If I asked you what the literacy rate in Australia is, you might respond by saying that most Australians can read well. The fact is that 46% of Australian’s do not have good enough literacy skills to do what many take for granted, such as reading a bus timetable, understanding instructions on a medicine bottle or reading the paper. This is so appalling. Australia is the so-called ‘Lucky Country’ and yet we have that many people who are disempowered because of their lack of literacy skills.
You might think, So what? Imagine a life where you are disadvantaged by not being able to read. This affects chances of employment as well as so many other things. Being able to read is directly related to a sense of good self-esteem. A community of readers is empowered and resilient.
Busybird Publishing is all about books – just in case you hadn’t noticed. Our mission is to find a way to make books special in people’s lives no matter what their situation is. We believe that the sharing of books is very important to the community because the sharing of stories is a basic human need.
Part of our mission, apart from helping people publish their stories, is to find ways to get books into people’s hands. It’s not a new idea. It’s not revolutionary. In fact it is so basic. But if it were happening everywhere, there would not be these horrendous statistics.
In order to start making this mission a reality, we are starting at the ground roots level. We plan to build a mini library (in the shape of a birdhouse, of course) that will live out the front of the Busybird studio and house free books. This will act as a meeting point for a book exchange. So if you want a book, you need to put a book in. It is hoped that this idea will grow in our community, then branch out in to others and then on to regional area where getting books is harder.
To this end, we have applied for a community grant with Leader Newspaper. It will still happen without a grant but it will take longer. We’d love to hear of other ideas of how we can make changes in the community in terms of literacy, so pop in to our studio or email us if you have any.
Look out for voting at http://www.leaderlocalgrants.com.au to help us get this project off the ground.
Blaise van Hecke