SYDNEY, March 8 - The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is aiming to sign up a record 30,000 school children for its annual Great Book Swap this year and raise $300,000 to buy new books for Indigenous children.
The charity's executive director Karen Williams says many Indigenous children struggle with reading when they start school because they simply haven't had access to books, a library or even things like street signs in the far flung communities where they grow up.
"Most of the homes in the remote communities we go to have no books," she said.
"There is no culture of literacy. Therefore you can't begin to learn to read if you don't have anything to learn from."
Williams described as "appalling" data in the latest annual Closing the Gap report which showed that the aim of halving the gap for indigenous children in reading and numeracy by this year was not on track.
While 88 per cent of Indigenous Year 3 students in major cities met or exceeded the national minimum standard for reading in 2017, only 46 per cent of students in very remote areas did so.
The ILF has run the Great Book Swap for the past eight years, with every student who takes part making a gold coin donation that goes towards buying culturally appropriate books for Indigenous children.
Businesses including Australia Post and some banks have also been encouraging workers to get involved in recent years.
The ILF also works with more than 250 organisations in local Indigenous communities to gauge ideas about which books that will encourage reading and the sharing of stories.
The Great Book Swap will be held on September 5 to mark Indigenous Literacy Day.
Actor and singer Justine Clarke will join singer-songwriter Josh Pyke to launch this year's Book Swap in Sydney on Thursday.