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Books for children who don't have them.

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Media Release


In a new initiative aimed at encouraging school aged children to read, Dr David Kemp, the Commonwealth Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, announced today that he had approved plans to pilot "Books in Homes in Australia".

Dr Kemp said that many children living in disadvantaged circumstances and in remote parts of Australia have poor access to books. Public library facilities are often inadequate and many families simply cannot afford to buy books for their children These children never know the thrill of choosing and owning a book of their own.

The Commonwealth will provide funding of around $700 000 under the National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy to pilot the provision of books to 10 000 students in primary school serving Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in disadvantaged circumstances in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Dr Kemp explained, "The pilot is about encouraging school aged children to read by allowing them to choose books which will be theirs to keep, to take home and share with the family. Children who are given the chance to develop confidence in reading will do better at school and have much greater opportunities available to them throughout their lives as a result."

"I am very pleased that our colleagues in Queensland and the Northern Territory have agreed to join the Commonwealth in this innovative approach to improving literacy. This project is a good example of practical reconciliation. It will assist some of the most disadvantaged children in Australia who, because of their circumstances, may not have the opportunity to enjoy reading and treasuring

books," Dr Kemp continued.

Dr Kemp said that the pilot also represents a new partnership between the Commonwealth and Scholastic Australia, publishers of children's books. The Commonwealth will provide the funds, the Queensland and Northern Territory Education Departments will assist with the distribution through their schools and Scholastic Australia will provide the books at a discount and meet the distribution costs.

The Books in Homes in Australia pilot project is based on the successful Books in Homes program founded in New Zealand by Maori author, Mr Alan Duff, who wrote the widely acclaimed book, Once Were Warriors. Books in Homes (NZ) has been in operation for several years, with Scholastic NZ distributing books to selected children through their schools. "I am very pleased that Alan is to be a consultant to the pilot project," said Dr Kemp.

For further information contact: Catherine Job (02) 6277 7460 or 0408 648 400

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