• The authors and illustrators at the Katherine launch in December. (@IndigenousLF) (Twitter)Source: Twitter
The series is aimed at lifting literacy rates in remote communities.
5 Sep 2018 - 11:03 AM  UPDATED 5 Sep 2018 - 11:05 AM

A series of nine books written in Kriol for Indigenous children will help fight poor literacy standards in remote Australian communities.

As part of Indigenous Literacy Day a group of students from Katherine in the Northern Territory have been flown to the Sydney Opera House for Wednesday's launch of the series, written and illustrated by Binjari women in their first language Kriol.

Karen Williams, Executive Director of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, says Indigenous children often start school with three languages but little knowledge of English.

"The kids are really talented ... but English is the fourth or fifth language. And many of these kids don't have books in their home," Ms Williams told AAP.

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"The whole experience of going to school is very challenging, and it's very difficult for them to catch up."

By the time they reach year five, only 35 per cent of Indigenous children in very remote parts of the Northern Territory meet the minimum standards for reading in writing compared to 90 per cent of non-Indigenous students living in major cities, according to NAPLAN 2017.

The ILF has worked on closing the literacy gap by raising money to buy and distribute books to communities, from children to elders.

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"If children don't see other members in community reading, they won't value it," Ms Williams said.

Nearly half (40 per cent) of the books sent out have been written by Indigenous authors and illustrators, to provide topics children can relate to, she said.

On Wednesday, eight students from Katherine's St Joseph's Catholic College will listen to a reading of three new books in Kriol at the Sydney Opera House.

The series includes three board books, three picture books and three chapter books, including Moli det bigibigi (Molly the Pig) about a Weetbix-devouring pig.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation has also called on Australians to join their new fundraising campaign, Fill a Bookshelf, in the hope 30,000 new books will be sent to remote Indigenous communities.


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