Children's book author Greg Dreise is the 2021 Premiers' Reading Challenge author.
Gregg is a proud Indigenous Kamilaroi and Euahlayi Murri and the author of picture books such as
My Culture and Me and
Awesome Emu. He has been a teacher for 20 years and has written 18 books.
'I always wanted to be a storyteller,' he said. 'Sometimes I can do that with my voice, a guitar, a didgeridoo and obviously with books.'
Sharing the wonder of reading through the Indigenous Literacy Foundation
'I will never forget in primary school we were doing a fairytale unit, which did not interest me at all. Then after the Easter holiday, my teacher read The Rainbow Serpent by Dick Roughsy. We told her that the story was different from the one in our country. The next day she read Tiddalik the Frog, which is from our country...that moment changed everything.'
Now, Gregg brings the wonder of reading to children through his writing and his work as an ambassador to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
'Our motto is 'Reading opens doors.' Modern life has made reading essential, so I enjoy trying to help Indigenous Australians to feel a part of the wonderful journey of reading,' Gregg said.
'Think of it as my personal extension of the magic created by hearing The Rainbow Serpent and Tiddalik the Frog as a young student.'
The importance of reading books by Indigenous authors
Gregg recommends finding and sharing relevant books so that Aboriginal students and children can see themselves in the stories they read.
'It is possible to go out of your way to encapsulate the minds of young sponges who love to feel a part of their curriculum,' he said.
Gregg said that it was really important for non-Indigenous people to read Indigenous books.
'Reading provides an essential opportunity to discover the rich history of our country that dates beyond 233 years.'
'It also allows people to 'grieve together - believe together - achieve together'.
'When we can walk together as one in this country, or future will take us to somewhere special.'