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 Government Agencies to form Paint the Town REaD groups in their communities. Each group organises its own year-round events, as well as an annual Reading Day bringing the whole community together around our message: ‘Read, talk, sing and rhyme with your child from birth’.

We currently have 37 (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 others in their local community to:

  1. hold an Annual Reading Day at the local shops, 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. E.g. an organisation may historically have run a children’s activity at a local festival. They now make sure that children’s activity is literacy focused, through activities such as storybook making.

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.

In Western Sydney, Local Government Areas (LGA) each have an LGA wide steering group and with various sub groups as the opportunity arises. There is also a quarterly meeting of Western Sydney co-ordinators where ideas are formulated and shared.

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

History of Paint the Town REaD

Paint the Town REaD was first developed in the rural Australian town of Parkes in the 1990s, under the charismatic and irrepressible leadership of Rhonda Brain.


1996 – Rhonda Brain, then Principal of Parkes Public School, 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 Reading Day in Parkes. The community comes together to support the message ‘Read, talk, rhyme and sing with your child.’

2000 – The first Paint the Town REaD mascot, the Reading Bug, is born. She tours her local area promoting literacy and even creating her own fun dance for school socials and community events. Since the Reading Bug, more than 20 reading mascots have appeared across Australia!

2001 – Governor Professor Marie Bashir gives vice-regal patronage to the project.

2004 – The Reading Bug in Parkes lays an egg! Children visit the ‘Buglet’ and read to it just as their parents read to them when they were young!

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 Queensland.

2008 – Paint the Town REaD arrives in the Blue Mountains NSW.

2009-11 – Paint the Town REaD launches in Local Government Areas across Sydney and the first Bug Convention is held in Parkes in 2010 gathering representatives from all Paint the Town REaD regions. In 2011, the now Annual 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 Annual Early Literacy Conference is held there too.

2013 – Paint the Swan REaD launches in Perth WA and Hawkesbury and Peak Hill in NSW. The Fourth Annual Early Literacy Conference is held across Warren and Merrylands NSW.
Paint the Town REaD Ltd becomes a legal entity.