"Literature by Indigenous authors is important because it reflects the way we see ourselves, our truths in history, our lives and contributions to society today. Our literature not only showcases where we fit into the national literary landscape, but where we sit on the Australian identity radar
It’s essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children see themselves in the books they read and can relate to the experiences of the characters they engage with on the page.
Many, if not most Indigenous people in remote communities speak more than two or three local languages, which demonstrates their knowledge and intelligence. But the reality is they are surrounded in their daily lives by communications in English. Warning information, signs and labels that keep people safe. Information on food packaging that allow for healthy choices. Street signs to get to places. These are basic daily needs in terms of being literate in English.
Just as important, is the capacity and desire for young Indigenous kids to read books that bring them joy. Books that tell stories they can relate to in both English and their own languages. Books that entertain, engage and also educate. Books that improve literacy so that they too can live a full life, because I know first-hand that reading opens doors to all of life’s wonderful opportunities.
Kids who can read English can search the internet and see what’s happening around the world. They can have conversations with other young people outside their communities. They can be social on a different level. This is not to diminish what they have which is rich and significant. Literacy just provides more opportunities, which many of us take for granted every day – including having access to books in our homes, in school libraries, and in public libraries."