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On Monday 12 September 2021, we were thrilled to be at Parliament House in Canberra to announce the partnership between ALIA and Magabala Books and launch two Magabala published picture books ‘Open Your Heart to Country’ by Jasmine Seymour and ‘Thank you Rain!’ by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Johnny Warrkatija Malibirr.
Both ‘Open Your Heart to Country’ and ‘Thank you Rain!’ were commissioned by ALIA thanks to a grant from the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, an Australian Government initiative. The children’s books will be included on the Online Storytime book list for public libraries to share with their communities through reading, recording and posting online.
At the event at Parliament House, Magabala’s Board of Director, Edith Wright spoke on the importance of having First Nations stories widely accessible and available for all ages, especially younger readers.
Of the partnership Magabala Books Publisher Rachel Bin Salleh said, ‘This life changing investment in First Nations storytelling through an Australian Government RISE grant has real and lasting impacts. This will make a world of difference for our creators and their families. We are proud both books will be added to the ALIA Online Storytime project to encourage new pathways to First Nation stories.’
Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr expressed gratitude and shared more about Thank you Rain!, saying, ‘Thank you to the library mob for this money. I like this book, rain makes a real change, cause when the rain comes, boof!, in a flash the dry land becomes beautiful and everything will grow, maybe the animals, when they see rain, think it’s time to eat and grow themselves. People know what’s going to grow when the rain comes, food for us people and the animals. Because this is a children's book, when they are real small the book can remind them about what’s coming with the seasons. I drew these pictures for children, and I like how the rain comes to all the children around the world. Thank you Rain! and Thank you Library!
Jasmine Seymour expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership saying: ‘Budyari marri! I am so excited to have received help from ALIA to publish my book ‘Open Your Heart To Country’. The partnership between Magabala and ALIA is such an incredible opportunity for me and wonderful recognition for the important work that Magabala does promoting diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. The stories of First Nation Peoples are important for all Australians to hear. Thank you ALIA for helping us get our stories into the world.’
Thank you to ALIA for this partnership, support by the Australian Government’s RISE Fund.
Cathie Warburton, Edie Wright, ALIA Program Officer Dr Phoebe Weston Evans and Jasmine Seymour