Sunday, August 25, 2013

Indigenous Literacy Day

Wednesday, 4 September is Indigenous Literacy Day,  a day on which people everywhere are invited to support indigenous literacy initiatives and celebrate indigenous Australian culture.

At Reading for Australia we recognise how lucky children who excel at reading are:  both because they can escape into other dimensions through books but also because they often come from communities which are able to  accommodate and fuel their reading interests.

Sadly, many indigenous communities are not similarly resourced and, as a result, lots of indigenous kids do not get to experience the joy and opportunity of books.

As a community with a definite commitment to literacy, the Kids' Lit Quiz Australia supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation's work in extending the power of the book to all children by raising literacy levels and so improving the lives and opportunities of indigenous Australians living in remote and isolated regions.

One of the primary aims of Indigenous Literacy Day is to raise funds to buy books and literacy resources for children in these communities. 
  • Events and fundraisers are held across Australia.
  • Participating publishers donate 5% (or more) of their takings from their invoices on ILD.
  • Participating booksellers donate 5% (or more) of their takings from sales on ILD.
  • Participating schools host a Great Book Swap Challenge and other fundraising activities.
  • Participating businesses, clubs and organisations host a Great Book Swap Challenge or other fundraising activities. 

The Great Book Swap

Many schools throughout Australia are participating in The Great Book Swap.

You can read more about this at the link and see the list of participating schools.  Here's what Canberra Grammar School, home of the 2013 Australian national Kids' Lit Quiz team, is doing:
  • Bring all book donations to the Library (this starts now!)
  • The books can be ones you have loved but no longer want
  • From Monday 2 September to Friday 6 September - bring in a gold coin to swap for a book
  • One gold coin per book
  • Parents are welcome to join in too.
It is a great community event with a good cause.

Some Recommended Books

In May, one of Reading for Australia's guest authors, Meredith Costain, wrote about her trip to the Warralong community in the Pilbara region of north-west Australia.  You can read Meredith's piece here.

For interested readers, Meredith listed a number of recommended books by indigenous authors and illustrators or with indigenous characters or themes together with a few links to even more books.  I've listed these again here in case you are interested in reading more about indigenous Australians and cultures.

Graphic Novels

Shake a Leg by Boori Monty Pryor, illustrated by Jan Ormerod (Allen & Unwin)


The Binna Binna Man by Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor (Allen & Unwin)
The Barrumbi Kids by Leonie Norrington (Scholastic)
The Burnt Stick by Anthony Hill, illustrated by Mark Sofilas (Penguin)
Crow Country by Kate Constable (Allen & Unwin)
Find Me a River by Bronwyn Blake (Lothian)
Gracey by James Moloney (UQP)
Dougy by James Moloney (UQP)
Meet Poppy by Gabrielle Wang (Penguin)
My Australian Story: Who Am I? The Diary of Mary Talence, Sydney 1937 by Anita Heiss (Scholastic)
My Girragundji by Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor (Allen & Unwin)
My Place by Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press)
Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French (HarperCollins)
Yirra and her Deadly Dog Demon by Anita Heiss and the kids of La Perouse Public School (ABC Books)

Picture Books

Two Mates by Melanie Prewett / illustrated by Maggie Prewett (Magabala Books)
Once There Was a Boy by Dub Leffler (Magabala Books)
Papunya School Book of Country and History by staff and students of Papunya School with Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle (Allen and Unwin)
My Island Home by Neil Murray, illustrated by children from Papunya & Galiwinku and Peter Hudson (One Day Hill)
Tjarany Roughtail by Gracie Greene (Magabala)

You can find more great books by following these links:

The Yarning Strong series:

Happy reading!


  1. I love the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Book Swap idea. In South Africa, I started a literacy quiz linked to the Kids Lit Quiz, whereby well resourced schools contribute a portion of their KLQ entry fee to buying books for under resourced schools, and each KLQ school identifies a needy school that they will twin with. Twenty four books from international and local authors, picture books, graphic novels and classics and contemporary books, are distributed to needy schools and I run a quiz based on these books as an incentive for these kids to read for fun and to earn book prizes in the process. Publishers also donate books to this cause.

    I also have an author come and hand out the prizes at Phendulani, and speak about their children's books, so that these kids can also have the opportunities of being inspired to write. Many of the authors themselves come from humble backgrounds.

    Marj Brown, coordinator of Kids Lit Quiz and Phendulani, SA.

  2. This is the 4th year we have done the Book Swap at Canberra Grammar School with the event improving each year. Our "bookswappers" are as young as 3. The students at our school love books and are so lucky to have access to so many fabulous books. As one of my boys said a few years ago "Having no books is like having no air to breathe." The Book Swap, which is so much fun, is an opportunity to share that love of books.

    Mrs H

    1. I love the quote. It reminds me of one of Nick's favourite quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird,

      "Until I feared I would lose it, I did not love to read. One does not love to breathe."

      (Scout's disastrous first day at school)

  3. Thank you both for your comments.

    The Phendulani Quiz is a terrific way of community building through books. I expect that all participating schools enjoy the experience and benefit from the quizzes on so many different levels - of which the opportunity to explore new books together is just one. The best books are always ones we can share.

    I know the Australian team really enjoyed their visit to the Phendulani School they visited in Durban in July. The folklore exchange sounded hilarious. There's an account of this visit on the team blog. The address is:

    Anyone wishing to learn more about the Phendulani Quiz should have a look at the "Literacy Support" tab under the Reading for Australian header.