Songs and nursery rhymes become hardback books to promote First Nations languages

In the wake of the enthusiasm generated last year by The song Barramundi the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is releasing a new series of hardback books for babies and toddlers in remote communities.

ILF Ambassador Jessica Mauboy recorded the song in Tiwi and Mangarrayi languages ​​in September 2020 to mark Indigenous Literacy Day (ILD). The song is to be published in several Indigenous languages ​​of the Northern Territory.

ILF’s regional program coordinator for the Tiwi Islands, Tictac Moore, said work on the hardback books was “on track” when she joined the team three months ago, which gave her a boost. allowed to come easily and continue the project by organizing the illustrations. .

At Pularumpi School on the west coast of Melville Island, the whole school got involved in supporting the project, for both elementary and preschool children.

“The teachers had all the children try to draw animals for the book,” Moore said.

“Some kids really went to town with it! she continued. “They were very enthusiastic. And the illustrations are beautiful.

Katherine’s regional program coordinator, Josie Lardy, explained how she started working with several communities who said they would like to release versions of The song Barramundi in their own languages.

Josie learned the Marra version of the song from Guluman daycare Assistant Teachers, who had already translated it when she went out to work with them.

“Once the community members got the chance to have their song language in a book, they thought it was a good idea,” she explained. “They say it’s good to see the jargon written down and have it recorded. Many languages ​​are lost and in some places only a few Elders can speak it.

COVID-19 restrictions on travel to remote communities have meant much of the release process has been undertaken from a great distance. ILF Lifetime Ambassador Alison Lester would normally visit these communities, but instead the Sydney-based team worked with Alison to create a digital tutorial on illustration of hardback books so communities could produce their own paintings and drawings.

Josie sent the digital link to Families as first teachers (FaFT) who she works with before any illustration workshop so she can build on Alison’s tutorial when she visited them in person.

“In some communities, FaFT parents did the illustrations, mostly pencil drawings, cutouts and using sponges. But in Jilkminggan, a large group of schoolchildren did them after watching the digital tutorial, ”she explained.

Each community translated and illustrated its versions of The song Barramundi in their own way, and the hardback books in Tiwi, Alawa, Marra and Mangarrayi are now in final stages of production.

After the pages were laid out in Sydney, digital files were sent to communities to make sure members were happy with the design and so they could make changes.

FaFT leaders, assistant teachers and school staff in every remote community “have done an amazing job putting together the translations of the songs, recording the audio files, and creating these fantastic books for future generations to read and love.” said an ILF spokesperson.

By October, these beautiful hardback books will be ready to donate to the communities that produced them, and each book will have a QR code to scan so an audio version of the song can be listened to.

“In Pularumpi, everyone wants to do more books,” Ms. Moore said.

“Children have been singing these songs for years, like The Kookaburra song and Bingo. Simple [who did the Tiwi version of The Barramundi Song] has already translated other songs, the next job will be Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. “

For more information on the work of the ILF, please see here.

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