If you’re a Riverbend regular or have browsed through our pamphlets at the counter, you may know about The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF).
Begun by Riverbend Books’ owner Suzy Wilson in 2004, ILF started as the Riverbend Reader’s Challenge, a reading competition to raise funds for disadvantaged Indigenous Australians living in remote communities who were missing out on vital literacy resources. It became a nationwide challenge in 2006 as The Australian Readers' Challenge, growing and evolving firstly into The Indigenous Literacy Project and then, in 2011, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
ILF is an initiative and charity of The Australian Book Industry drawing on its diverse range of expertise, skills and resources. It works with the support of the Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Booksellers Association and the Australian Society of Authors.
In 2007, ILF launched Indigenous Literacy Day, which is held the first Wednesday in September, with the aim of raising $100,000. That year, with the support of publishers, booksellers, schools, authors and libraries around Australia, over $250,000 was raised – with the majority of the fundraising coming from publishers and booksellers.
Thérèse Rein became patron of the Foundation in 2008. With the support of over 300 schools and nearly 300 booksellers and publishers, $300,000 was raised in 2008. The ILF is aided by its ambassadors, including eminent Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors and leading musicians, who work tirelessly to raise awareness of Indigenous literacy.
In 2009, the ILF began The Great Book Swap as a grassroots way for schools and businesses to raise money for indigenous literacy, as well as an enjoyable way for book-lovers to swap and converse about their favourite books. Riverbend Books and Avid Reader bookstore worked together to produce two Great Book Swap events which, with the amazing support of the local communities that spring up around independent bookstores, raised over $5000 for the ILP.
In 2010 Great Book Swaps have been held all over the country, in schools, radio stations, writers’ festivals and bookshops. Many other events have also helped to raise funds: a huge auction of the art of Children’s Illustrators with Josh Pyke, Old Man River and Shaun Tan performing, was a huge hit in Sydney, while Songs for Stories brought together a host of great musicians to entertain Melbournites. A Celebrity Bookswap was held in Brisbane through the Don Dunstan Foundation with ILP Ambassador Katie Noonan. ILF has also received the support of the National Library of Australia.
2010 saw over $609,000 raised for ILF, going over and above the target of $400,000! Keep an eye out for more Indigenous Literacy events and news by becoming a fan on Facebook, by visiting ILF website www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au, or holding your own Great Book Swap!