Building their very own library

December 6, 2023 BY

Greta, Paddy, Jaden & Leah with Julian Mattay and (left) Cooper receives his books from Julian Mattay at the book giving ceremony.

This year alone more than 400 books have been gifted to children from the Mount Gambier Children’s Centre as part of the popular Books in Homes Program.

Made possible by the generosity of Julian Mattay, 2023 marked the ninth year of the program, with Mount Gambier Library children services officer Bek Coates saying around 120 children and families attended the finale event at the end of last month.

“Put simply, the program would not occur without the support of Julian Matta,” Bek said.

“Rotary Club of Mount Gambier ran the program in collaboration with the Mount Gambier Library from 2015 to 2018 and Julian then took over sponsoring the program, independently supporting the program for five years now.”

Since 2019, Julian Mattay has personally donated more than $16,000, providing 2504 books to 678 families to keep the program running locally.

“I am passionate about books and one of my first memories is reading when I was very young. It is so important for young ones to read and to encourage them to get off tablets and phones,” Mr Mattay said.

“I am happy to do this as it is great to see their smiles when they receive all their books.”

Bek said early literacy skills were crucial for childhood development and having access to quality picture books in the home encourages families to read with their child.

“With the Books in Homes program children are able to select the books that they would like to have, giving the child a sense of autonomy, pride and worth,” she said.

Mount Gambier Children’s Centre Director Kath Salmon agreed the children involved had developed a sense of autonomy, value and belonging by selecting their own books.

“The children really enjoyed being able to choose which books they would like to take home and would excitedly share with educators and their peers which books they enjoyed, often retelling the stories at kindy,” Ms Salmon said.

“The books in homes program is a fantastic initiative that allows children to share in the joy of reading with their families.

“It has also been a really positive attraction towards books in general. When asked to read a book; children are more often responding positively to this encouragement, now knowing they actually can.”

Books in Homes is a charitable foundation that provides books-of-choice to children living in remote, disadvantaged and low socio-economic circumstances, ensuring crucial early literacy engagement and the development of reading skills needed for lifelong achievement.