Walker Books and The Shepherd Centre join forces to improve literacy in children with hearing loss

15 Aug 2019

Local children’s book publisher teams up with local children’s charity to announce partnership during Book Week

 Wednesday 14th August 2019: World-leading early intervention specialists, The Shepherd Centre for deaf children, will launch a partnership with Newtown-based children’s book publisher Walker Books Australia, on Tuesday 20th August at 9.30am (at The Shepherd Centre’s head office in Newtown) as part of Book Week.

The two inner-west organisations have teamed up with a mutual objective of improving literacy rates of children with hearing loss.

‘Focussing on listening, speech and language is so crucial in the early years to develop a solid communicative base as well as the foundations needed for literacy,’ said Aleisha Davis, General Manager of Clinical Programs at The Shepherd Centre.

‘Reading can be a challenge for children with hearing loss as so much of early literacy involves listening to what letters sound like, identifying different sounds in words and being able to segment and blend different sounds.’

Leading children’s book publisher Walker Books Australia realised the potential to help children with hearing loss with literacy and is kindly supporting The Shepherd Centre by providing the children with a generous supply of new and exciting reading materials to inspire the children’s interest in reading.

‘Walker Books is passionate about the Australian children’s book industry and getting quality books in the hands of young readers everywhere,’ said Angela van den Belt, President, General Manager and Commercial Director of Walker Books Australia and New Zealand.

‘We are so thrilled to be able to offer support to such an important cause,’ continued Angela. ‘Reading has such incredible benefits for all children and we would hate to think that some children may be left behind. Reading teaches children about the world around them, develops a child’s imagination and improves vocabulary and language skills which is a perfect fit for the work of The Shepherd Centre.’

To launch the partnership, children and staff at The Shepherd Centre will be dressing up as characters from their favourite books. A Street Library, kindly donated by Street Library Australia and painted by Pascale Beard a relative of Shepherd Centre graduate Lewis Beard, will be filled with children’s books and unveiled at The Shepherd Centre’s head office in Newtown.

Each year 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss, the most common disability diagnosed at birth. By the time a child is ready to start school, 1 in 300 school aged children has a diagnosed hearing loss.  This means up to 4,000 young children are living with hearing loss at any point in the years between birth and school.

Early identification and intervention means a child is on track to develop speech, listening, language, literacy and social skills, and they can realise their full potential.

It costs almost $16,000 per year per child to provide these essential services. The Shepherd Centre relies on government support and fundraising to help the more than 500 families who turn to them each year and close the gap in access to these critical services. For more information, visit www.shepherdcentre.org.au or call 1800 020 030.


Media opportunities:

  • Photos of children with hearing loss and Shepherd Centre staff dressed up in Book Week costume in celebration of the launch
  • Families and staff of The Shepherd Centre are available for interview
  • Representatives from Walker Books Australia also available for interview

Where:                The Shepherd Centre, 146 Burren Street, Newtown

When:                  9.30am Tuesday 20th August 2019


Media enquiries:

Jo Wallace

Senior Marketing and Communications Manager                                                              

The Shepherd Centre                                    

M: 0407 201 394

E: [email protected]                                     


About The Shepherd Centre:

The Shepherd Centre is a NSW-based not-for-profit organisation specialising in early intervention to help children who are deaf and hearing-impaired develop spoken language skills. Since its foundation, The Shepherd Centre has opened up a world of sound for more than 2,000 children who are deaf or hearing impaired. The organisation is recognised as a world leader in the field of Listening and Spoken Language early intervention, providing families with assistance to develop their child’s speech, so they can reach their full potential. The Shepherd Centre relies heavily upon fundraising and donations to support the more than 500 Australian families who turn to them for help each year. The services cost nearly $20,000 per year per child and the funds donated help give deaf and hearing-impaired children access to critical services.

More information: www.shepherdcentre.org.au.


About Walker Books Australia:

Walker Books Australia is a part of the Walker Books Group, one of the world’s leading independent publishers of books and content for children. This vibrant international group includes Walker Books UK, London; and Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts. Renowned for its truly original publishing and outstanding quality, the Walker Books Group is home to books for readers of all ages. Award-winning authors and illustrators for the group include Cassandra Clare, Kate DiCamillo, Patrick Ness, Anna Branford, Jeannie Baker, Sally Sutton, Bob Graham, Meg McKinlay, M.T Anderson, Sally Murphy and Jon Klassen, and major brands for the group are Maisy, Guess How Much I Love You, Tilly and Friends, the widely acclaimed Judy Moody and the bestselling Where’s Wally.

Further information can be found at www.walkerbooks.com.au.

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