Musicians and authors team up to help launch series of groundbreaking new books this Indigenous Literacy Day

Tomorrow, September 5th, marks the 12th annual Indigenous Literacy Day, “a celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy” hosted by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF), with events kicking off in Sydney, Melbourne and nationwide.

This year, the ILF are launching a range of moving new books with big events in the major cities, alongside their groundbreaking new Fill a Bookshelf program, all with the hopes of raising over $300,000 to provide much needed books and literacy resources to Indigenous communities, and help close the Indigenous literacy gap in remote Australia.

The two major events of the day will be based at Melbourne’s Federation Square and the Sydney Opera House, whilst anyone at home will be able to join in with the nationwide online Fill a Bookshelf campaign. Starting off the day, ILF ambassador Alison Lester will be launching a series of nine children books at the stunning Sydney Opera House. The series, written and illustrated by Binjari women in their first language Kriol, will include three board books, three picture books and three chapter books – each targeting a different stage of readership – which will be available in bookshops nationally.

A group of six children aged 12-16 from the Katherine region, will join the Binjari women for a reading from the books. These books centre on their experiences and culture in the remote communities, and aim to provide ready and relevant texts for children in their first language. The Sydney event will continue with a performance by ILF ambassadors Josh Pyke and Justine Clarke of their best selling song “Words Make the World Go Round” and will conclude with a Great Book Swap held in the northern foyer, proceeds of which will go to funding further literacy programs.

Meanwhile, down at Federation Square, Melbourne, there will be the launch of Deadly Sisters of Worawa, a book written by thirteen young women from the Worawa Aboriginal College in Healsville in collaboration with author Dr. Anita Heiss and Shelley Ware. The book is a showcase of stories about themselves, their families and sacred places and what makes them proud to be deadly Indigenous women. The Melbourne festivities will feature a range of performances by these students, who will be joined by a variety of ILF ambassadors including authors Andy Griffiths and Anita Heiss, artist/storyteller Gregg Dreise, Shelley Ware (Marngrook Footy Show) and Aunty Joy Murphy.

Each of these incredible publications being launched are part of the ILF’s Community Literacy Program, and are made possible thanks to sponsorship and support from HarperCollins Publishing, 1010 Printing, the Epic Good Foundation and the Hawthorn Football Club Foundation. Copies of each of the books launched will also be gifted to remote communities across the country.

Since their conception, the ILF have worked tirelessly to improve the literacy rates in remote Australian communities. With the 2017 NAPLAN results indicating that only 35% of Indigenous students in Year Five meet the minimum reading and writing standards in the Northern Territory, compared to 90% of non-Indigenous students living in major cities, there is still so much work that needs to be done to help bridge the literacy gap. 

For those who can’t make it to one of these exciting events, the ILF is also urging all supporters to jump online and get involved in their new Fill a Bookshelf initiative. After signing up, participants will be given a virtual bookshelf which family and friends can donate to, helping the foundation to provide real books to those communities in desperate need.

For more information on tomorrow’s events and how you can get involved, as well as how to purchase these groundbreaking books online visit the ILF website HERE

Header Image: Indigenous Literacy Day at Sydney Opera House in 2017 with Yakanarra Community. Credit Prudence Upton Photography