Playgroup children at Pularumpi School on Melville Island inspired by ILF Book Buzz
Children attending playgroup at Pularumpi School on Melville Island are really getting into the board and picture books delivered by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s ( ILF) Book Buzz initiative, a release from the Foundation noted.
The FaFT (Families as First Teachers) program has a dedicated room at the school, but Family Educator Sue Whittnall said that the children and families often meet for learning on Country, “down at the beach or near the barge landing”.
Ms Whittnall has been working with these children since 2018, though in her previous, long standing role as a teacher at the school where she taught many of their parents. Increasingly, they are engaging with the FaFT program, she said.
“Many are now dropping in of their own accord so we don’t need to go out so much to pick them up. And it’s been really good for these young Mums and Dads especially to see their kids enjoying the books.”
The program that Sue and Lucia, the Family Liaison Officer, a Tiwi Islander, deliver is “very hands on”. They encourage parents to point to the pictures in the books and talk to their little ones about what they see.
“The children are learning about the various parts of the books, how to handle them, and how to turn the pages.”
Since Ms Whittnall began working with the FaFT playgroup, she has noticed an increased engagement with books and reading in this remote island community. More and more, she said, the children are selecting books that interest them — and asking for more on particular themes, such as animals, fish, food or trucks.
“A lot of them will readily sit down with a book in the relaxation area. And they’re also looking after the books, packing them away when they are finished with them.”
Parents are benefitting too, reading more to their children, and feeling more empowered to teach their child to learn through stories. Some parents are also translating board and picture books so they can read to their children in Tiwi.
“They’re currently hoping to work on a translation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar [by Eric Carle],” Ms Whittnall explained.
“We’re very lucky to get this support from ILF. The Book Buzz resources are absolutely awesome, and the books are interactive and engaging. It’s clearly taken a lot of thought to put these resource kits together — and it’s really appreciated,” she added.