More than 450,000 children in more than 11,000 locations across Australia have participated in the biggest storytime session of the year.
Across the country, children’s bookThe Brothers Quibble was read to children in schools, public libraries, kindergartens and childcare centres at 11am.
The book – about two siblings learning to get along – was chosen for this year’s National Simultaneous storytime event and had been translated into 17 different languages.
For the first time, the chosen book was translated into an Indigenous language – Woiwurrung.
The language was spoken by the Wurundjeri People from the Kulin Nation of central Victoria.
Mandy Nicholson, from the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, read to children at Preston Library today.
She said the event was important to remind the community of the area’s Indigenous heritage.
“Unfortunately in Victoria, out of the 38 different languages, there’s not fluent speakers of any of our different languages,” she said. “So we’re really at the forefront of creating and re-learning our language here in Melbourne and other parts here in Victoria as well…we’re really trying to reawaken our language.”
The National Simultaneous storytime event was in its 15th year.
It aim was to encourage more children to read.
Sue McKerracher, from the Australian Library and Information Association, said early exposure to books and stories could help with early literacy and self-esteem later in life.
“I think what a lot of us don’t realise is that actually we need to be sharing books, rhymes, stories, with children from the age of nought onwards,” she said.
“A lot of brain development happens from nought to three. And really you’re giving your child the best chance in life if you can start reading to them really at an early age.”
Ms Nicholson said indigenous language books could help boost low indigenous literacy rates.
She said telling local stories could help too.
“The storybooks that are in libraries and schools, they’re not local stories; not local creation stories, so I think once children – Indigenous and non-Indigenous children – are reading books that are local to the area, then they can really relate to the local area more and be more close to the local cultural history of the area.” she said.
The Brothers Quibble is available as an audio book in 16 different languages including Greek, Hindi and Arabic.
Translating children’s books was not easy and local references, informal language and rhymes could be challenging.
But Arabic translator Heba Kassoua said it was worth it to share Australian stories and give children a sense of belonging.
“It’s nice to see that there are some shared stories as well across the cultures because kids in the Arab world would be like, ‘Oh you know what…you know it’s exactly what happened with me and my little brother’, or, ‘You know, it’s the same all around the world,’ and it’s quite important in that sense.” she said.
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