New books to reinvigorate Indigenous language

ABC Broken Hill, article by Margaret Paul.

It’s hoped new books being launched today will help Aboriginal children from far-west New South Wales learn their traditional language.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is in Menindee today, and Wilcannia tomorrow, launching two Paakantyi picture books for young children.

The books, Lenny and the Big Red Malka and No Tharlta on the Bus, have been written and illustrated by Faith Baisden, with input from the head of the Paatantyi Language Circle, Murray Butcher.

Debra Dank from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation said it’s a fun way of teaching young children their own language.

“It’s used in a way where it’s really easy for the kids to make sense of what that Paakantyi word actually means,” she said.

“So there are a lot of contextual clues around what’s happening in the story, through the illustrations for the kids to connect the dots and to learn really in quite a natural way what their own language word is.”

She said the books are also a good way to help families develop pride in their language and culture.

“One of the really really important points in all this process is the self-affirmation that it brings to Indigenous families, to see their own language in print, in a legitimate book,” she said.