MEMBERS of the Hunter's Tamil community have created books that have been accepted into the collection of Australia's oldest library.
The Balar Malar Tamil Educational Association school operates under the Hunter Community Languages (HCL) umbrella and has 35 students attending its Saturday classes at Cardiff North Public School.
The school's Dinesh Manivannan said students and parents spent 18 months creating 13 books to be used as learning resources, using $5000 from the NSW Department of Education, $2000 from Lake Macquarie City Council and $500 from local sponsors.
"In the books we have mentioned Newcastle suburbs - Swansea, Newcastle Harbour, Cockle Creek - Australian fruits, Australian flowers and about animals in Australia," he said.
He said 25 copies of each book were printed in India , but there were plans for future print runs in Australia.
State Library of NSW multicultural consultant public libraries Oriana Acevedo said she was thrilled when the institution was offered two sets.
"Bilingual material in an Australian context - and good quality material for Tamil or Indian language - is very hard to find," she said.
"Having children contribute is also quite different and unusual.
"The material they wanted didn't exist - so their 'can do' attitude is a very good thing."
She said one set would be kept permanently in the library, as part of "the history of printing in NSW".
"I told the children when they visited 'You can tell anyone now you're a published author, you've contributed to these books.
"You will come here one day and request a book and show your grandchildren, if you want."
Ms Acevedo said the second set was available for loan. She said Cardiff Library would soon have a set and she had been in touch with five Sydney libraries with Tamil collections interested in purchasing their own sets.
She said there were many advantages to learning a second language.
"Preservation of your own native language, speaking it at home, supports and enhances the learning of English."
HCL education officer Kara Matheson said students helped create the storylines and illustrations for the original books, which feature English and Tamil script and span a range of skill levels.
"These provide a way to more fully engage with culture and develop literacy," she said.
"They're always looking for ways to make language seem relevant and alive for children."