Learning to Read is a Cultural Process

“Children who learn to read successfully do so because, for them, learning to read is a cultural and not primarily an instructed process. Furthermore, this cultural process has long roots at home – roots which have grown strong and firm before the child has walked into school.”              James Gee, 2004

On the 6th September each year libraries, schools, booksellers and publishers throw their support behind the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s Indigenous Literacy Day, https://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/indigenous-literacy-day-2017 a National day celebrating Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy.

Storytelling in Aboriginal culture involves multi-literacies, many languages, movement, dramatic and visual art forms to bring knowledge and stories to life and to ensure they are passed on through generations.

As part of this year’s ILD Celebrations Communities for Children’s Library Has Legs partnership program with the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, the Balee Koolin Bubup Bush Playgroup hosted their annual Learning with Community incursion at Cranbourne Library to celebrate the oral storytelling tradition.

Fourteen koori kids, together with their extended kinship community gathered together with Uncle Ron Murray, a Wamba Wamba man (from the Swan Hill area) to listen to the stories that had been passed on orally to him from a young age. Uncle Ron’s session provided an invaluable cultural transmission opportunity for our koori kids so that they may continue to grow up strong with the knowledge of their unique 65,000 year old cultural heritage and one day pass on these stories to their own children in the future.

Families enjoyed a delicious community lunch and children were encouraged to draw their own pictures from the stories they had heard as a memento from the day.

We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land the Cranbourne library is based, the Boon Wurrung peoples and pay our respects to their Elders past and present. Particularly Boon Wurrung Elder Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir for her ongoing cultural guidance and support of the Balee Koolin Bubup Playgroup.

Sarah Bingle