A Great Australian Example

About Developing the Honey Ant Readers

Indigenous people in Central Australia are often talented linguists. Many speak two, three, four or more languages.

Despite this, so many Indigenous children achieve below the National benchmarks in literacy tests. This prompted our research into their reading needs and led to my working collaboratively with members of the Indigenous community: elders, adults, children and teachers.

The venture was a co-operative and collaborative one. Consultation, observation and recordings of stories and general conversational language formed the backbone to creating books specifically for Indigenous learners. The adults telling their stories wanted them to be used in the Honey Ant Readers series to help their children to learn to read.

These were to be books they could relate to, feel drawn to, read with ease and enjoy. All the HAR, stories and illustrations, are approved by elders before being printed.

2 Responses

  1. Wow! The Honey Ant Readers program is truly a ‘great Australian example’ in every sense! What an exciting project and one that is dearly needed in schools and communities around the country-and indeed it could be applied to Indigenous and minority language groups world-wide. It’s wonderful that someone is FINALLY taking a community based, ‘bottom up’ approach that is respectful ,appropriate and having results-a refreshing alternative to current top down, imposed programs that are only serving to widen the gap of disadvantage! Thanks for putting this up and keep up the great work Margaret James! It made my day!

  2. Thank you for this entry. It’s been a great project to be involved in, as we feel so strongly about respecting Indigenous languages, including Aborignal English which is a dialect of Standard English, but quite definitely a language in its own right with all that that entails – the meanings of words, the vocabulary, the pronunciation and the grammar..all unique to AE. By respecting the language and the culture of the learners, and by offering them early reading books that they can relate to so well, we are encouraging them into print literacy, which is very exciting!

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