Indigenous Literacy Foundation Lifetime Ambassador Andy Griffiths makes a splash at the 2024 Great Book Swap launch

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

First Nations primary students from five Sydney schools had the opportunity to learn about and meet a dugong (Marntuwunyini = “marn-too-woon-yin-ee” in Tiwi language) when the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) launched its 2024 Great Book Swap on Tuesday 12 March at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, with acclaimed children’s author and ILF Lifetime Ambassador Andy Griffiths.

The Great Book Swap is a really fun way to swap one of your pre -loved books for another book that (who knows?!) you might end up loving even more. And, even better, for the price of a gold coin you’ll be raising funds to ensure that kids in remote Communities have the chance to fall in love with books and reading as well,” Mr Griffiths says.

Community-led solution to boost reading outcomes

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is a national charity working with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities across Australia. They are Community-led, responding to requests from remote Communities for culturally relevant books, including early learning board books, resources, and programs to support Communities to create and publish their stories in languages of their choice.

Marntuwunyini (dugong in Tiwi, Northern Territory), is one of the four new Indigenous Language houses that schools will be allocated when they register for the 2024 Great Book Swap.

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Each animal is featured in one of the ILF bilingual published books; stories that have been written and illustrated by remote Communities. They are designed to engage students in a region of Australia, a First Nations language, and an animal from that region.

  • Marntuwunyini (dugong in Tiwi, Northern Territory) is fromTiwi Seasons with Marius by Tiwi College with Shelley Ware and David Lawrence
  • Yari (humpback whale in Yawuru, Western Australia) from Country Tells Us When by educators Tsheena Cooper, Mary Dunn, Dalisa Pigram-Ross and Sheree Ford
  • Girrganyi (brown falcon in Bunuba, Western Australia) from Winthali:Fire by Joe Ross and Stacey Bush
  • Bigibigi (pig in Kriol, Northern Territory) from Moli det bigibigi: Molly the pig and recently released sequel Moli bin git stak: Molly gets stuck by Karen Manbulloo

Improving equitable access to a foundational skill

Ian Wood is Regional Director ANZ at Merlin Entertainments and says “we are incredibly proud to support and collaborate with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, a charity that provides books and literacy programs to remote Communities”.

“There is value in being able to read,” Mr Wood says.

“Literacy is a foundation skill and helps children navigate the world around them.”

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He described Tuesday’s Great Book Swap 2024 event as “a fun and interactive way to celebrate reading and shared experiences alongside the highly inspirational and acclaimed children’s author and ILF Lifetime Ambassador Andy Griffiths”.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 12 Indigenous Literacy Foundation – Great Book Swap Launch on March 12, 2024 in Sydney, Australia.

Registering your school or business supports Indigenous literacy across Australia

Schools and Early Learning Centres who host a Great Book Swap and submit their funds by 1 November 2024, will automatically win a virtual visit from ILF Lifetime Ambassador Andy Griffiths and those that host a swap and submit their funds by 30 June 2024, will also automatically go in the draw to win the Early Bird prize; a book pack consisting of ten ILF titles.

Corporates, organisations and social groups are also encouraged to host a Great Book Swap. Hosting a swap is a fantastic way to celebrate reading locally, learn more about Indigenous Languages and culture, while raising funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. This year, the ILF aims to raise $180,000 to gift 18,000 culturally relevant books to remote Indigenous Communities across Australia.

To continue to promote multi-literacy and multilingualism, ILF’s musical fundraiser, Busking for Change enters its second year. The fundraiser developed by ILF Ambassador Josh Pyke, engages primary students in a joyful activity incorporating song, music, movement, and language. Simply put, schools learn a song and raise funds for the ILF. Busking for Change is a term three activity, culminating with a final school performance on Indigenous Literacy Day in early September.

Creating culturally relevant shared experiences

In 2023, a total of 545 Book swaps happened across Australia – 414 schools and 131 organisations, raising over $170,000.

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This year, the ILF hopes to encourage more school and organisations to participate with an aim to raise $180,000 to gift 18,000 culturally relevant books to remote Indigenous Communities across Australia.

“Great Book Swap is not only a great opportunity to raise money for ILF, but to also connect with each other. Seeing people’s face light up when they start sharing how much they love a book, character or author, and why someone else may like it is so heartwarming,” says ILF Head of Programs Zoe Cassim.

“It becomes a shared experience, and that deep connection we so often miss out on.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]