Books reinforce that language matters

Article image - Books reinforce that language matters Two of the illustrators that took part in the program, Daniella Carlton and Natasha Waterloo.

The community of Binjari in the Northern Territory is sharing Kriol with the next generation as part of a Roper Gulf Regional Council Community Development Program.

With many traditional dialects languishing across Australia, this year’s NAIDOC Week theme ‘Our Languages Matter’ is playing out in the community of Binjari.

For the past two years, female participants in the Community Development Program (CDP) have been training to use the Kriol spelling system with Australian National University linguist Denise Angelo.

Their determined efforts have paid off with the announcement that nine of the children’s books they have written will be distributed through the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF).

In June, the ILF supported artist and illustrator Julie Haysom to visit the community, about 15 kilometres west of Katherine, and work with the women to create three board books, three picture books and three chapter books.

The six aspiring authors had additional creative support from fellow participants Karen Manbulloo, Halrisha Hodgson, Daniella Carlton, Natasha Waterloo, Tasiana Douglas, Sylvia Birdum, Rozelle Frith, Sarah Lewis and Marisa Smiler-Cairns, who provided paintings and sketches to illustrate the books.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Berto said the project had allowed the CDP participants to develop self-confidence through literacy, adding that he was thrilled to see the final drafts of the books.

“The women speak Kriol mostly as a first language, but like the majority of Kriol speakers, they did not learn to read and write the language at school,” he said.

“This project has provided an introduction to the way Kriol is written, and the ladies’ confidence with written Kriol has increased as the books took shape.

“I’m extremely proud of what they have achieved, because it is helping to build capacity for their community, and that’s exactly what the Community Development Program is designed to do.”