About The Indigenous Literacy Foundation
Reading opens doors to a world of opportunities and learning. Books are the keys that unlock those doors.
The ability to read books enriches the lives of many children across Australia. It helps in the development of literacy skills essential for their future. Unfortunately, in very remote Indigenous communities, access to this opportunity is rare and literacy levels are significantly lower than anywhere else in the country.
We believe all children should enjoy the benefits of reading. It is the purpose behind our Book Supply program, where we provide thousands of children with a carefully curated selection of culturally appropriate books.
To date we have gifted more than 350,000 new books to over 280 remote Indigenous communities where books are scarce. This is community-led program, as we respond directly to the feedback from schools and families telling us which books they want, that will be relevant and engaging for them and their children.
The program also enables members of the community to tell and publish their own stories, many in first language, through sessions run by Australian authors and illustrators. The portrayal of Indigenous people and knowledge in these stories is essential for the preservation of their culture, which is vital for children to connect to as they grow up in Australia.
The donations we receive from the public go towards running these programs, and purchasing new books from publishers, 40% of which are written by Indigenous authors and illustrators. These books are then distributed in individually curated packs to schools, families and organisations across remote communities.
What does the Indigenous literacy gap mean?
Only 36% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 96% for non-Indigenous students in major cities, according to the 2018 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).
The situation is improving but there is still a long way to go and the challenges are immense.
Apart from the historical, health, social, and educational disadvantage issues, many remote communities don’t have many, if any, books. Most of the remote communities that we work with report there are fewer than five books in family homes.
Our approach to raising literacy levels starts at a community level with Book Supply. Appropriate quality books are gifted to organisations operating in remote communities.
Our Book Buzz program in a WA community shows how giving children under five the right books in their own language, develops early literacy skills.
Through our Community Literacy Projects, we have been able to work with and publish books in many Aboriginal languages: traditional languages, vibrant languages, sleeping languages and new languages, from Walmajarri in the Kimberley region, to Arabana in South Australia, to Kriol in the Katherine region. Learn more here.
How can I support Indigenous Literacy?
1. Sign up and create a fundraising profile
2. Ask friends and family to donate a book to your shelf
3. Fill your virtual bookshelf
4. Change the lives of children living in remote Australia!