The Arts

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After one day of reading together, this community is hooked on books.

Cowra’s Wiradjuri community recently came together at Erambie Mission to promote the benefits of reading. The aim of the day was to get everyone from kids to elders hooked on books because this clever community understands that the more time you spend reading, the more literate your community will become.

The ‘Read With Me’ program is based on the belief that even small improvements in literacy can improve school results and we all know that better results at school mean a greater choice of employment opportunities later in life. Employment has also been shown to have a direct impact on health and well-being – so reading can really have a positive effect on our kids’ futures.

The ‘Read With Me’ day was the first event in Erambie Advancement’s ‘Healthy, Black and Deadly’ community-development program. The program respects Wiradjuri values and ways of learning and the whole community was encouraged to take an active role in developing a reading culture among preschool and primary-school children.

Elders played a vital role on the day, encouraging family members to take responsibility for improving literacy within their community. The elders will be following up on the program and making sure there is an increase in the amount of time spent reading with young people. This community is aiming high – in fact, their ultimate aim is to have the best literacy levels in the world!

Celebrated Wiradjuri author Anita Heiss returned to her mother’s home as a guest for the day to conduct story workshops for her community. Other Wiradjuri authors were on hand to show young people where reading could take them. Erambie artist and author Isobel Coe was honoured on the day and read from her book A Bush Walk.

Wiradjuri teachers were also on hand to help parents understand how they can help their own children continue with their reading development. Beatrice Murray from Mulyan Public School created a Wiradjuri focused activity booklet for the children to complete on the day. “The children relate better to Koori voices,” she said. Parents discussed what they can expect their children to do at each stage of reading development and learnt strategies they can use to keep their children excited about learning.

By the end of the day, the community was happy to see older children reading to younger ones and the smiling faces and requests for another ‘Read With Me’ day indicated the event was a huge success.

More than 150 children attended the day and were very excited when they didn’t leave empty-handed. They all took home a pack promoting reading, which contained a T-shirt, library bag, bookmark, magnet, pamphlet and books all branded with the Aboriginal flag and the ‘Read With Me’ message.

The Read With Me day was a joint effort from Yalbillinga’s Parental and Community Engagement program (PaCE) and Erambie Advancement Corporation.

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