Apunipima Cape York Health Council Maternal and Child Health Midwife Lisa Smith has distributed hundreds of children’s books to the Cape and Gulf in the last few months.
The books (the Healthy Living Series) - What We Eat, What We Smell, Safe Play and Feeling Good – by Jennifer Cooper–Trent, are specifically aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids. The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting Aboriginal literacy funded the printing and distribution of the series.
‘A mutual friend introduced Jennifer and I. I thought I might be able to help distribute the books through the Cape,’ Lisa explains.
‘I started ringing around to see who wanted books. There was a lot of interest and I provided sets to every child in Aurukun, Coen and Pormpuraaw schools and Pormpuraaw Child Care Centre. I then got a heap in for the other communities we work in and asked the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) if they would like some. They took 200 sets to Doomadgee and another 100 sets to the Wellbeing Centres in Hopevale, Aurukun, Coen and Mossman Gorge.
‘We have just received another 1000 sets, 300 of those we sent straight to the RFDS for their Wellbeing Centres… we’ll continue to give them out to communities who want them and then start putting them in the Baby Baskets.’
Lisa said the books were suitable for a range of age groups.
‘You can start reading while the baby’s in utero. Toddlers enjoy looking at the pictures. They’re written for a reading age of four or five but if older kids have lower literacy levels these books are great too. When I last gave them out I got the kids to read them to me. Older kids who struggled with reading really enjoyed them.
‘The books contain positive healthy messages which are really good for kids and the response from children to the books has been lovely. We encourage older brother and sisters to read to their siblings and parents to read to their children. There’s a big need for books on the Cape and parents, children and teachers alike are always excited to get books.’