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Turning the page on local languages

Friday, 29th April, 2011

CELEBRATING LOCAL LANGUAGE: Author Faith Baisden (left) with Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) Program Manager Debra Dank and ILF Executive Director Karen Williams with the book “My Mara Love to Clap”, which will be launched in Wilcannia today. CELEBRATING LOCAL LANGUAGE: Author Faith Baisden (left) with Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) Program Manager Debra Dank and ILF Executive Director Karen Williams with the book “My Mara Love to Clap”, which will be launched in Wilcannia today.

A book which celebrates and encourages children to learn the local Paakantyi language of Wilcannia will be launched in the township today.

The move was welcomed by Menindee based Aboriginal elder Dr Beryl Carmichael whose local language is Wangibauwn.

"It's very important the children and all the people living in this nation know the languages, heritage and culture of this area," Dr Carmichael said.

Written by Indigenous Language Consultant Faith Baisden, "My Mara Love to Clap" is a fun children's book that introduces the Paakantyi words alongside English text.

Children learn new words that describe parts of the body in a song format, and are encouraged to clap, stomp and dance along.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) will launch the book and Ms Baisden will be leading workshops and giving copies of books to school children.

"My Mara Love To Clap" was written by Ms Baisden after an ILF visit to Wilcannia last year, saying she was inspired by the warmth of the community and by the children's eagerness to learn. 

Ms Baisden - the Founding Director of Binabar Books, which publish books that can be adapted to include vocabulary from any Indigenous language - worked with Wilcannia Paakantyi Language and Culture Officer Murray Butcher to develop the new book.

"My Mara Love To Clap celebrates the local language of Wilcannia and encourages the children to read and develop their literacy skills in both Paakantyi and English," Ms Baisden said.


The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is an initiative of the Australian Book Industry. It aims to raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of indigenous children living in remote and isolated regions around Australia.

Last year, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation worked with over 200 communities across Australia and during the past two years has sent over 60,000 culturally appropriate books and literacy resources to remote communities.

ILF Program Manager Debra Dank said the new book featuring Wilcannia's Indigenous language will build on the work being done in the area.

"The response with every visit has been enormously positive," Ms Dank said.

For information about the ILF, including the annual fundraising day, visit www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au

"My Mara Love To Clap" is aimed at children up to lower primary age and copies can be ordered from www.binabar.com.

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