Our intern Keelin recently spoke to Jessica O’Gara, teacher, mother of five, and wife to Irish Rugby legend Ronan O’Gara about the importance of reading with her family. The O’Gara family live in France where Ronan works with the coaching team of Racing 92, a Paris-based rugby union club. We at CBI didn’t want them to get homesick, so we sent them a bumper package of Irish books for all ages – Irelandopedia by John and Fatti Burke, Imaginary Fred by former Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers, Rabbit and Bear by Julian Gough and Jim Field, Anna Liza and the Happy Practice by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Matt Robertson (shortlisted for the CBI Book of the Year Awards), The Day the Crayons Came Home by Oliver Jeffers and Drew Daywalt, and The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, by Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch. We also sent a few copies of the Reading Passport, which you can get your hands on at a CBI Book Clinic – check out our events page to find the next clinic near you! Jessica has told us that her older three kids have already gotten stuck into filling up their Reading Passports with their favourite books! Read below to see what Jessica has to say about reading with her family.
We moved from Cork to Paris in August 2013 so by now the older 3 children all read in French. I have discovered some lovely French books from other parents’ and teachers’ recommendations. It also helps my French as the children are better than I am, so this develops my vocabulary! I worry slightly that the older 3 are not exposed to as much English vocabulary or texts as they would be if they lived in Ireland but the upside is that they are now bilingual!
I find books a very useful way to remind the children of home and family and Ireland. We love Irelandopedia especially. Also the books The Dingle Dolphin and The Connemara Pony are lovely. Reading is important as a part of family life and there is always a story at bedtime. It’s a great way to have some ‘quiet’ time and to settle everyone down. We have built up a nice collection of books over the years so they are always useful during playtime also. Max who is nearly 3 has a few favorites which he loves to read over and over and over!
Our children vary in age from 8 and a half to 3 so our reading as a family usually ends up with Ronan reading with the twins while I’m with the younger 3. Sometimes I end up reading with the 6 and 4 year olds while handing Max a picture book to browse himself. We like to mainly read story books and a few educational books that are available here in France such as Mes Années Pourquoi and Kididocs. The younger children (age 4 and 2) are really only interested in books with lots of pictures. We love the Walker books and we have the full collection of Julia Donaldson books. The older children like Horrid Henry and Dirty Bertie and all of the Roald Dahl books. (Molly has read Matilda in French).
We’re sure CBI readers will agree that the O’Gara children are very lucky to be bilingual – this has been proven to have profound effects on cognitive abilities, related to language and other skills such as attention, perception, problem solving, mental flexibility, and task switching. We hope they enjoy the selection of books, and continue to read together as a family far into the future.