Basil Kickett and students from Narrogin Primary combine for a book to be read across nation

Campbell WilliamsonNarrogin Observer
Basil Kickett holding the book.
Camera IconBasil Kickett holding the book.

A local Indigenous elder has penned his story of growing up around Narrogin in a book illustrated by students from Narrogin Primary School — and it’s going to be read around Australia.

Written by Basil Kickett and illustrated by students from kindergarten to Year 6, When Pop Was a Boy is a story that sheds light on Kickett’s experiences growing up in Narrogin and around the Wheatbelt.

The project started for NAIDOC Week at Narrogin Primary School last year but has since moved to the national stage.

When Pop Was a Boy has been uploaded to YouTube and made into an eBook, and is set to be launched at a whole-school event on Wednesday.

On the same day, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation will also launch the book in an online forum where an audience of more than 500,000 people gathered last year.

Mr Kickett, known as Pop Basil, works as an Aboriginal and Islander education officer at Narrogin Primary School.

When Pop Was a Boy front cover.
Camera IconWhen Pop Was a Boy front cover.

He said making the bilingual book, written in English and Noongar, with the students was a terrific experience.

“The illustrations (the students) did were perfect, beautiful illustrations. Some of the kids drew kangaroos and boomerangs and spears,” he said.

“I think it’s good for the non-Indigenous and the Indigenous kids to learn and see how we lived, how people my age lived back in the late 1950s and 60s.

“I’m telling the story about transport, how we got around on horse and cart, the types of games we played, and how Noongars lived too. The benefit of the book is that they come to know that we had a language to communicate with each other and it was a good language but people didn’t know about it.”

A QR code for the book.
Camera IconA QR code for the book.

Andrea Cowcher, a KindiLink educator at the school who helped organise the book, said it would be sent to more than 60 schools in the Wheatbelt. “I’m very excited that we can share Pop’s story and share his culture and his experiences growing up in a small community,” Ms Cowcher said.

“We got some funding ... so we’ve had some copies printed and each school in the Wheatbelt are going to have a copy of them.

“I think it’s just really important that we share local stories and language and the history of our local area, that it’s told and acknowledged and seen and heard.”

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