ALIA Blog Article

ALIA Blog: Reconciliation Week, Magabala-ALIA partnership

Friday 3 June: When ALIA’s Online Storytime program received the news that we would receive a RISE Fund grant last year, we knew that one of the first things on our wish list was to partner with Magabala Books to support the creation of some Indigenous-created picture books that would be part of the program’s booklist.

Magabala Books is Australia’s leading Indigenous publisher. It is based in Broome, WA and is Indigenous owned and led. They publish a small number of titles each year, across a range of genres, including children’s picture books. Magabala’s history goes back to 1984, it’s a fascinating story that you can read here.

We were over the moon when Magabala agreed to partner with us on the creation of two picture books. On 1 June 2022, the first work to be published as part of the partnership was Open Your Heart to Country, written and illustrated by Jasmine Seymour. It is a story told in Dharug and in English, with both languages floating in gentle waves over beautiful scenes that lead you into Country and connection with the land, animals and language.

The text is soft and evocative, drawing young readers in, while also carrying a deeper message for older readers too.

Jasmine is a Dharug woman descended from Maria Lock, who was the daughter of Yarramundi, the Boorooberongal elder who met Governor Phillip on the banks of the Hawkesbury River in 1791. Jasmine has written a number of picture books including Cooee Mittigar, Baby Business and Family. She is also a primary school teacher in the Hawkesbury area.

The second, much anticipated picture book created through this collaboration with Magabala will come out later this year.

The Online Storytime team was conscious of the small number of picture books created by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authors and illustrators on the Online Storytime booklist, and of the critical importance of representation of diverse voices, faces and narratives in literature. Having this brilliant opportunity to support the creation of original picture books through this partnership, thanks to the RISE Fund, has helped address that lack of representation.

Five other books from Magabala’s existing list of children’s picture books are featured on the Online Storytime booklist. This means participating public libraries can make recordings of them for their Online Storytime sessions, and share them online with their communities, far and wide. The Magabala titles have been very popular among public libraries and their communities, especially as many libraries have been creating special Online Storytime recordings for Reconciliation Week.

Watch this space for the second Magabala-ALIA picture book later this year!