A group of Griffith University education students is spreading the literacy message by donating books to Indigenous communities in remote areas.
As part of their Indigenous Studies course, the third-year students decided to turn their learning into community-based action by organising their own “Share-a-book Project”.
They are asking for donations of good quality second-hand or new children’s and early teens books to distribute to children in remote communities.
Lecturer Dr Jayne Keogh said the initiative reinforced the importance of improving literacy in these areas.
“Naplan data has show that by Year 7 the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students is roughly five years – in both writing and language skills, and remote communities are three to eight years behind national state and territory assessments,’’ Dr Keogh said.
It was this gap that led to the project’s evolution.
Group spokesperson Christine Reid said they wanted to help reduce the literacy disparity between Indigenous children in remote communities and non-Indigenous children in more urban areas.
“Many people in these communities don’t have a lot of money to spend on books, and so if children are able to take the books home to keep, they can also share them with friends and family,’’ she said.
“We hope to make a real impact on these children’s lives so they can develop a love of reading and be immersed in the written word.”
What started as a classroom project through word of mouth, has grown to university-wide and beyond with a Facebook page and blog.
“Word of mouth has been so powerful,’’ Christine said.
“One of our team members, Renee, received a large donation of books from a local childcare centre last week, who had heard about the project from someone else.
“Another team member, Stacey, has organised donation boxes at various businesses around the Gold Coast.”
Christine also has her children helping, with their school friends also contributing.
“We have about 300 books so far but are hoping to have about two to three thousand by the end of October.
“If people don’t have books to give but still want to contribute, they can make a gold coin donation and we will purchase books on their behalf.
“We are also encouraging people to make their gift personal by filling out a book label we can provide to them. These will be placed inside the books to let the reader know who gave it, and to show that someone outside of their community cares enough to share the joy of reading.”
The students plan to take the books to the remote communities themselves at the end of the semester.