Retired Children’s Librarian and passional literacy advocate, Bettina Nissen continues to bring the magic and wonder of reading to children across the region. 

Launching Paint The Town REaD at Under 8’s week earlier this year, Bettina and her group of Paint the Town REaD Champions have been visiting kindergartens, playgroups, prep classrooms, community events and festivals across the region spreading the message of the importance of developing early literacy skills. With them, they carry three eggs which grow larger and thrive when they are read and sung to. “We all grow and thrive by listening to stories and sharing stories. Because these stories tell us who we are and where we come from, the eggs are just the same. Whenever we sing and tell a story, we thrive and grow, Bettina explained.   

With each story and song, the eggs grow and thrive as they get closer and closer to being ready to hatch. The eggs, which have been lovingly created by volunteers at the Calliope CWA, are anticipated to hatch at some point in Term 1, 2020. The magic part is that no-one knows what is inside the eggs; however, Bettina has worked closely alongside local Indigenous groups to ensure they will be appropriate Paint the Town REaD mascots. 

Paint the Town REaD was initially developed by a retired school principal in Parkes, New South Wales and has since been rolled out across 70 towns throughout Australia. Bettina said the program was designed to help ensure children had the opportunity to develop early literacy skills, so they are ready to learn to read and write when they reach school. 

“Paint the Town REaD helps to build awareness about how important it is to build those basic skills before children get to school,” Bettina explained.  Bettina has engaged a range of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds who spread the message across generations and cultures.  The program complements the amazing services already offered at the Gladstone Region’s Libraries through their children’s’ programs and First 5 Forever activities. “Everyone is working with the same vision, ensuring children reach school ready to learn,” Bettina added. 

Bettina said the program is unfunded and is run solely by volunteers. “We don’t need a lot of funding. The program needs lots of enthusiasm and passion and volunteers who can help in any way they can.” 

For more information visit the Town REaD – Gladstone, Calliope and Boyne Island