Back to listing

Binjari Buk


Date: 16 December 2017

A fantastic Kriol literacy enterprise in the community of Binjari in the Northern Territory has reached a celebratory milestone with the launch of the suite of 9 Binjari Buk (Binjari book) for children.

With the support of CoEDL PhD student, Denise Angelo, all the books have been written in Kriol by Aboriginal women from the Binjari community. They also produced all the illustrations, assisted also by the artistic know-how of Julie Haysom. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation sponsored the 2017 writing and illustrating workshops that led to the Binjari Buk. Along with Harper Collins and 1010 Printing, the ILF also supported the design, editing, publishing and launching of this suite of books. Local organisations, particularly Roper Gulf Regional Shire and the Binjari Aboriginal Corporation, have been involved all along too.

Denise, who is also an experienced teacher, is working on a grammatical description of northern Australian Kriol. The book project arose from Kriol literacy workshops requested by the community during the time Denise was conducting fieldwork.

The Binjari book launch was held in Katherine and was a very happy event. One of the authors, Karen Manbulloo, read from her book Moli det bigibigi (Molly the pig). The audience loved the lively account of how Molly could stand up to the local dogs after growing very big eating Weet Bix! 

The Binjari Buk authors and other Binjari community members have also been reading the books to students at local Katherine schools. “They have been wowing the students and teachers,” said Denise. 

“Teacher feedback  is overwhelmingly positive. They notice how Kriol-speaking students are particularly engaged by the stories.”

Board books
Ola namba en kala (Numbers and colours) by Bernadine Booth
Olkainawan kalawan loli (Lollies of different colours) by Milly Raymond
Yakai! Beibigel! (Oh no! Baby girl!) by Maureen Hodgson 

Picture books
Moli det bigibigi (Molly the pig) by Karen Manbulloo
Tudei en longtaim (Now and then) by Stella Raymond
Fishing – lenimbat ola biginini (Fishing – teaching children) by Marilyn Frith

Chapter books
Roki det kenggurru (Rocky the kangaroo) by Maureen Hodgson
Hanting gada biliken (Hunting with billycans) by Maureen Hodgson
Hanting gada trekta en treila (Hunting with a tractor and trailer) by Maureen Hodgson

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is distributing copies of the books to schools, childcare and health services throughout the Kriol speaking areas of Australia. Kriol is the largest contemporary Aboriginal language spoken in Australia, and is spoken over an area stretching from the Kimberleys in Western Australia through to parts of the Gulf area of Queensland.

Already there are flow-on effects for the community due to the success of the project. Even though it’s the end of the school year, 15 teachers came together with Denise for an afternoon of professional development focused on supporting Kriol speaking students in the classroom. These teachers will participate in an on-going drop-in learning group next year. Roper Gulf Shire Council, community members and schools are discussing how to get more Kriol speakers in Katherine town school classrooms. And ILF has undertaken to support another Kriol book project next year at Jiilkminggan community.

Picture at top: Reading at MacFarlane School in Katherine (left to right: Tina Raye of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Justina Blacksmith, Maureen Hodgson, Stella Raymond and CoEDL’s Denise Angelo on the floor with the kids!)

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University