Bree from Mission Australia shares her Street Library story with us. She is spreading her the love of reading around the mid-north coast of Australia.

Taree on the Mid North Coast of NSW is a community passionate about early learning and ensuring their children have the best start for school. This means supporting their children to develop a love of reading.

Recently, the town’s Communities for Children program, led by Child Care Services Taree & Districts Inc launched ‘Paint the Town REaD’ – a whole of community reading initiative designed to support early literacy.

According to Paint the Town REaD, more than 20% of Australian children arrive at school without the skills necessary to make the most of their early education. In some communities, this figure is much higher. Research shows that no matter how good the teaching to follow, these children can fall further and further behind, struggling with literacy, employment and more.

The Paint the Town REaD initiative is about encouraging communities to make reading events and reading activities integral to community life.

The launch of this initiative saw 15 community groups and service providers come together to host a fun day for around 200 children under 5. During this event a mysterious egg which had been touring local early childhood centres, growing as it was read to by children was hatched, or delivered by the local midwife. What hatched from the egg was ‘Gracie’ a shark, who is now the towns reading mascot.

As a part of the launch, Mission Australia purchased and installed a Street Library in Taree Community Garden, but not before local artist, Chloe Hargreaves from Elusive Art, volunteered her time and skill to give it a vibrant and playful exterior. The group was so delighted with the Street Library and the result, they went on the purchase another ten libraries to be installed around the community.

Following a call out to the local community for books, the community came forward donating 100’s of books to get the library started. The community garden volunteers now care for and restock the library, with a particular focus on children’s books.

Communities for Children Program Manager, Bree Katsamangos said “The Street Libraries are such a wonderful resource for us to anchor this initiative around. We really want all community members to take ownership of the campaign and get our children reading, this is such a simple and practical way for everyone to contribute. It’s also a way we can ensure that all children have access to books, which is critical to early learning”.

Taree is now getting their additional Street Libraries painted and located – they may even buy are few more!