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4th March 2013

 

Aboriginal Literacy Foundation to give away 80,000 new books

 

The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation (ALF) today officially launched its series of early-reader books at an event at Minimbah Pre & Primary School in Armidale, NSW.

 

80,000 books have been produced by the ALF thanks to generous funding received from Gandel Philanthropy. The book series will be provided free of charge to disadvantaged Indigenous children throughout Australia in coming months.

 

The program aims to address the lack of literacy resources written specifically for the Aboriginal culture and environment. The books were written and illustrated to reflect Aboriginal characters, interests and the remote Australian landscape.

 

The four books in the Healthy Living books series each carry a health and wellbeing message which will help to educate children – and their families – about essential life lessons such as healthy eating, safe play, feeling good and self-esteem.

 

ALF CEO Dr Anthony Cree says the need in Indigenous communities for books such as these is long overdue.

 

"Children want to read books with characters and stories that they can relate to and that interest them. They are far less likely to enjoy reading about a plot with foreign themes and characters that are nothing like themselves," he said.

 

"These books have been written especially for Aboriginal children. We have needed a product like this for far too long, and I am delighted that from today we can start to provide this."

 

The project will see 20,000 Indigenous children throughout Australia given the four-book series to take home and keep. The recipients will largely come from remote Indigenous communities and will be chosen based on their economic and educational disadvantage.

 

"For a large majority of the children who receive these books they will be the very first books they have ever owned themselves," Dr Cree said.

 

The book series was funded through the Gandel Philanthropy Community Assist Grants Program. Gandel Philanthropy's CEO Vedran Drakulic said the project was a good fit with the organisation's goal of supporting early childhood education within disadvantaged communities around Australia.

 

"The trustees were very pleased to be able to support ALF to produce these books. What they were impressed with was that the books were not only a great educational resource but they also provided children with important health information and advice," Mr Drakulic said.

 

Author and literacy expert Jennifer Cooper-Trent, who has also written the renowned phonic reading program, Fantastic Phonics authored the four book titles.

 

Mrs Cooper-Trent said the Fantastic Phonics reading program has been used in many disadvantaged communities with incredible results.

 

"The Fantastic Phonics reading program has been used in many schools in Indigenous communities as well as in Rwanda, Liberia and Bangladesh. A three year research study by USAID found that many students demonstrated an improvement of phonic fluency by 250% - the equivalent of three years schooling- within one year of using the program," she said.

 

"I am delighted to have the chance to use the foundation of this program for these books. I think it will make a huge difference towards improving literacy results for our young Indigenous population."

 

The ALF hopes that the books will not only advance progression towards closing the literacy gap, but also improve upon the startling health disadvantages that plague remote Indigenous communities.

 

"A wide range of health problems are prevalent in remote communities, many of which exist through a lack of basic health education. Whilst we improve the literacy standards of these young children we hope that we can also instil some simple but essential healthy living messages," Dr Cree said.

 

These educational messages are also expected to have a positive impact on families and the wider community. As children often read with their parents, the books will indirectly educate entire families on health, nutrition and safe play.

 

The ALF will begin the distribution of the 80,000 books this month, with the aim to reach 20,000 children during the next six months. Over 20 communities in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Far North Queensland, Central Australia, and the Northern Tablelands region of NSW have been chosen for the first distribution round, with many more communities to follow.

 

The ALF expects that the delivery of the Healthy Living book series will improve phonic fluency amongst over 70% of the children, an essential skill for literacy progression. By improving literacy at this early stage of development, children are much more likely to progress to higher levels of education.

 


For further information and interviews contact:
Lachlan Macindoe (03) 9650 1006 or lachlanmacindoe@aboriginalliteracyfoundation.org

 

The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation is a non-profit, independent charitable organisation committed to reducing illiteracy amongst Aboriginal children. The Foundation offers programs and projects to Indigenous children living in remote areas, aimed at providing students with the vital learning foundations they need to succeed later in life.


For more information about the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation visit:
www.aboriginalliteracyfoundation.org


Gandel Philanthropy is one of Australia's largest independent family philanthropic funds. Gandel Philanthropy seeks to support people, projects and organisations committed to building a strong, resilient, vibrant and inclusive society in Australia and Israel. Gandel Philanthropy's vision is to create a positive and lasting difference in people's lives, which is achieved through funding programs in areas of arts and culture, education, health and medical research, Jewish identity and leadership, youth at risk and Indigenous programs.

 

The ALF Healthy Living books series was written by Jennifer Cooper Trent. Ms. Cooper-Trent is a children's books author who has written over 60 books including the Fantastic Phonics reading program. Fantastic Phonics is used in 250 Indigenous schools in Australia, 2300 Liberian schools and in 2700 Rwandan schools. The program is given to aid agencies and charities free of charge.

 

The four books include original cover art by Bibi Barba, an acclaimed Indigenous artist, with a strong sense of story-telling which represents the dreamtime and Indigenous art.

 

The books are illustrated by Anthony Mitchell.

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