The Book Café on Bass Strait – An Indigenous Literacy initiative

On Cape Barren Island there is a tiny primary school that sets up a Book Café every week where parents are encouraged to come and have a cup of tea and read to their children. There are only eight children enrolled in the Cape Barren Island School from Kindy to Grade eight, as well as six pre-school students enrolled in the Launching into Learning Program.

This event came about after one of the mums at the school heard about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s (ILF) Book Supply Program. So far the ILF has provided over 250,000 new books to more than 250 remote indigenous communities. What’s more, the books donated are culturally relevant, with 40% having been created by indigenous authors and illustrators. The Cape Barren Island School has been receiving books since 2016. The Tasmanian Writers Centre is delighted that an island with such a strong indigenous literary community, being home to writers such as Jim Everett and Nathan Maynard, is continuing to support and foster indigenous heritage and literary connections.

One of the really beautiful things the ILF does is help develop a genuine sense of love and enjoyment in reading. The books are delivered by barge, much to the children’s delight. It’s like Christmas every month!

Among the children’s favourite books are The Magic Show Book by DK, and Our Dingo, Ernie by Molly & Aliya Ridley-Davison and Dub Leffler.

Books are also donated to the school library, which makes it much easier for them to be shared with the wider indigenous community. Teacher Charlotte White says, “The beauty is that the books are brand spanking new, which is very special for these kids who’ve had lots of hand-me-downs in their lives.”

For more information about this wonderful program and other events, go to: