If you’ve been along to your local park recently, you may have noticed a collection of colourful seats popping up. Over the last few months Sunshine Coast Libraries has been rolling out the Story Seats project across the region, installing 10 seats in 10 parks as a visible way of promoting literacy to families.
Funded by the Queensland State Government initiative First 5 Forever, the Story Seats are purpose-built seats that contain images from popular Australian children’s picture book titles.
Now complete, families are invited to explore the magic of storytelling and engage in active play, singing and reading at the purpose-built seats. Reinforcing the message, ‘the first five years last a lifetime’, the seats provide a fun and engaging experience for everyone who comes across them.
“Story Seats were created to engage and promote literacy to families across the region in popular, high-usage parks,” explains Karen Gawen, Young People’s Services Supervisor from Sunshine Coast Council.
“By bringing books into outdoor recreational areas, parents and caregivers are reminded that they can read to children anywhere, anytime.”
The seats were created to hold a number of adults and children, to surround them with words and images and to ensure a cosy, comfortable area to talk, read, sing and play together.
The front cover and two internal pages of each story are strategically situated on the seats to encourage literacy and visual literacy.
In total, eight publishing houses, ten authors and three illustrators have taken part in the project.
First 5 Forever is a universal family literacy program aimed at supporting stronger language and literacy environments for young children from 0–5 years and their families. First 5 Forever directly supports parents and primary caregivers to be confident as their child’s first and most important teacher, and provides parents with increased access to resources they need through public libraries.
First 5 Forever initiative was implemented in 2015 due to alarming statistics in regard to childhood literacy:
The Children who loved books, Peter Carnavas; New Frontier Publishing
Russell Park, Montville
Grug, Ted Prior. Simon & Schuster Muller Park, Bli Bli
Home in the Rain, Bob Graham; Walker Books Maroochy Lion’s Park, Maroochydore
Mad Magpie, Gregg Dreise; Magabala Books Power Memorial Park, Mudjimba
The Big Fish, Pamela Allen; Penguin/Random House Shelly Beach Park, Shelly Beach
Bertha and Bear, Christine Sharp; University of Queensland Press Kenilworth Town Park, Kenilworth
Where is the Green Sheep?, Mem Fox/Judy Horacek; Penguin/Random House Grahame Stewart Park, Currumundi
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, Janeen Brian/Ann James; Penguin/Random House Pioneer Park, Landsborough
Jump and Shout!, Mike Dumbleton/Peter Carnavas; Little Book Press Brightwater Community Lake Park, Brightwater
Josephine Wants to Dance, Jackie French/Bruce Whatley; Allen & Unwin Nelson Park, Alexandra Headland
Story Seat maps can be found at any Sunshine Coast Library or by visiting library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au. So, grab a map, head off on an adventure to find all 10 story seats! On your adventures, take a picture with the seats and share on social media using the hashtag #storyseat.