The current numbers tell a scary story about literacy for a lot of indigenous kids. Only 63% achieved the national minimum literacy standard in 2009, with geographic location meaning that numbers drop as low as 26% of classes in remote areas of the country. Alex is attempting to change the culture of reading in his remote community by ensuring that children have the opportunity to have books in their own homes.
- In a small, unused office room, Alex and and his team set up a community library.
- Using un-utilised resources (like the hundreds of books sitting in a resource cupboard) the shelves were stacked.
- He then created a reward system. Alex began with a small monetary token for reading 20 books, and gradually decreased in order to focus on encouraging the kids to choose a ‘book to keep’. This system was later coupled with homework tasks that focused on the books they’d read.
- He then found some great alternative books providers. The local library and op shops lent their support (and their paperbacks).
- Knowing how important it is for kids to see their parents reading, Alex added magazines to the library in order to include parents with lower literacy levels.
- Alex had to consider solutions to some logistical issues (he invested in some $1 op shop book bags for transport to and from school, and book boxes for storage at home).
“We feel like the program is working as we are seeing steady increases in reading levels and in some cases have seen double the improvement expected. Nothing that we have done is extraordinary, but lots of little actions have taken place that hopefully make a difference.”
Like the Idea?
If you would like to create your own literacy library, Alex is totally on board. He even mentioned that he’s thought of some really cheap ways that you can fill your shelves. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with Alex and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer him on in the comments below as well.