First 5 Forever

First 5 Forever is a family literacy program delivered by public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) with the primary aim of providing strong early literacy foundations for all Queensland children aged 0-5 years. First 5 Forever connects families to the information, resources and support they need to build the best foundation for their child’s future language and literacy development.


How is it delivered?

First 5 Forever began as a four-year $20m initiative delivered through public libraries and IKCs in partnership with local government. In 2018 the Queensland Government announced ongoing annual funding of $5m to support the delivery of First 5 Forever and continue the valued role that libraries and IKCs play in supporting early literacy development through free programs and services.

First 5 Forever funding is distributed to local councils to enable flexible local implementation of the program within the parameters of the First 5 Forever Service Level Agreement (SLA) in consultation with State Library of Queensland. Public libraries are ideally placed to work with their communities to bring about long-term positive change and address Queensland’s performance in children’s literacy as they offer a range of services to support literacy development in 320 locations across Queensland. 

Why the first 5 years?

In the first years of life a human brain develops at its fastest. Family life and early experiences are important for healthy brain growth. Research shows that simple things like talking, reading, singing and playing with children from birth have positive impacts that last a lifetime and this has flow on benefits for the whole community.

Why Libraries?

Libraries form a large existing network across Queensland that connects into every community. Libraries are the major provider of free activities and resources for families and provide a range of services which aim to support children’s literacy development, foster an interest in reading and develop a love of learning.

The need 

The Australian Early Development Census data has indicated that a significant number of Queensland children start school weak in the language and cognitive domain. Public libraries have been working with community partners to directly reach and impact on early literacy outcomes for children aged 0-5 years and their families.

Working together 

First 5 Forever is bringing about long term positive change by addressing Queensland’s underperformance in children's literacy and is harnessing the collective impact and reach of public libraries and multiple cross-sector agencies.

Reaching families

First 5 Forever seeks to give all Queensland children a strong foundation in early literacy by encouraging families to read together, share rhymes, sing songs, tell stories and play every day, at any time. The goal is to connect with the widest range of families though outreach and community partnerships. 

First 5 Forever facts at a glance

  • 2 million Queenslanders are a member of their local public library.
  • 1,933,800 attendances have been recorded at early literacy sessions in libraries and in the community to date
  • 2017 saw an 88% increase in attendances from 2015.
  • 978 community partners engaged with libraries to deliver First 5 Forever in 2017 indicating a strong investment in early literacy at a local level
  • 2,024,078 impressions recorded on the First 5 Forever Facebook page.

State Library of Queensland looks forward to partnering with Local Government to deliver First 5 Forever in Queensland communities through libraries and IKCs to build strong literacy foundations for all Queenslanders. 

For more information about how First 5 Forever is delivered across Queensland you can download all reports and evaluations here. 

Stay up to date with First 5 Forever 

Ask staff at your local public library about First 5 Forever events and activities in your local area, and check out What's On for activities hosted onsite at State Library. Like us on facebook for the latest from First 5 Forever.

Mother and child reading together.

Visit the First 5 Forever website for important information and tips.

Child reaching for a book.

More information for public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres about the First 5 Forever program.