About us

More than 20% of  Australian children arrive at school without the skills necessary to make the most of their early education. In some communities the figure is much higher. Research shows that no matter how good their subsequent teaching, these children can fall further and further behind. They may struggle with literacy, employment, health and happiness for the rest of their lives.

Paint the Town REaD works to overcome this by motivating communities across Australia to read, talk, sing and rhyme with their children so they’re ready to learn to read and write at school.

We partner with local agencies  to form Paint the Town REaD groups in their communities. Each group organises its own year-round events, as well as an annual Community Reading Day bringing the whole community together around our message: ‘Read, talk, sing and rhyme with your child from birth, so they will be ready for learning at school’.

We currently have 50+ (and growing!) locations across Australia.

Local Paint the Town REaD groups are all different, but they have the same central focus: of creating, facilitating and encouraging everyone in their local community to:

  1. hold an Annual Community Reading Day , and
  2. think smarter throughout the year about how to include early literacy in everything they do by promoting and encouraging local strategies and leading by example. Children’s pre-loved book swap boxes appear around the community, and Reading Tents at local festivals. Each community has it’s own mascot, that loves to be read to.

As the Paint the Town REaD groups are local entities, they reflect the strengths and interests of their community and are structured accordingly. They are usually driven by a collaborative group of champions, such as partnerships between local school principals, Councils and NGOs, Community Health staff, librarians, Early Childhood directors.

Want to help change your community for the better? Contact us and we’ll help you get  started.

History of Paint the Town REaD

1996 – Rhonda Brain, then Principal of Parkes Public School in NSW, sees increasing numbers of children coming to kindergarten with delayed language development. ‘Paint the Town REaD/Birth to Kindergarten’ launches in August, with book giveaways to newborns and guest presentations by noted educational experts including Dr. Loretta Giorcelli.

1997 – The first ever Community Reading Day is held in Parkes. The community comes together to support the message ‘Read, talk, rhyme and sing with your child, so they will be ready for learning at school.

2001 – NSW Governor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir gives vice-regal patronage to the Parkes program.

2005 – Paint the Town REaD’s Reading Relay sees a book passed, like the Olympic torch, from town to town across over 60 communities and 5500 kilometres in just two weeks, travelling by hot air balloon, motorbike, fire engine and even on horseback!

2006 – Paint the Town REaD spreads to rural Queensland.

2009 – Paint the Town REaD arrives in the Blue Mountains NSW.

2009-11 – Under an Early Literacy Working group, headed by Barbie Bates, NSW Dept of Community Services, the rural monocultural model is enriched to engage with multicultural urban Sydney. Paint the Town REaD launches across 6 Western Sydney Local Government Areas.

The first Bug Convention is held in Parkes in 2010 gathering representatives from all Paint the Town REaD regions. In 2011, the Second Early Literacy Conference is held in Penrith NSW.

2012 – In Australia’s National Year of Reading, Paint the Town REaD  celebrates literacy across the country by taking the message ‘Read, talk, rhyme and sing with your child’ to Parliament House in Canberra. The Third Early Literacy Conference is held there too.

2013 – Paint the Swan REaD launches in Perth WA. The Fourth Early Literacy Conference is held across Warren and Merrylands NSW.
Paint the Town REaD Ltd becomes a legal entity, with Rhonda Brain as the Creative Director and Barbie Bates as the Executive Director.

2014 Paint the Town REaD commences in urban Brisbane and Melbourne in partnership with United Way – Australia.
Paint the Town Read Ltd is registered as a Charity with ACNC.

2015 – The Fifth Early Literacy (now) National Conference is held in Wollongong NSW, and the model is presented at the ARACY Early Years Conference and the first National AEDC Conference.
PTTR’s REaD, Black and Yellow Aboriginal model is launched at Lake Macquarie NSW, and is soon picked up by new and older PTTR communities.

2016The first South Australian community launches – Paint the Parks and Gardens REaD. Her Excellency Lady Cosgrove, gives her patronage to PTTR Ltd, with a reception at Admiralty House Sydney.

2017The Sixth National Early Literacy Conference takes place in Katoomba NSW.
Paint the Town REaD now has a presence in over 50 communities across five states. There are 100s of organisations and 1000s of workers and community volunteers reading, talking and singing with children from birth – from Mayors to mechanics, from radio announcers to real estate staff,  in pubs and police stations, from grandparents to greengrocers, the list goes on. All supporting the development of children’s language and love of books from birth.