Read and download the Children's Books Ireland strategic plan.
What we know in the Irish context:
The Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal study informs the work we have to do at each age and stage of a child’s life: at nine months old, 19.5% of infants are never read to. At three years old, 20% of children are read to infrequently – three or fewer days a week. Reading frequency at three years of age proved to be highly predictive of reading habits two years later, and this predictive pattern extends throughout childhood: reading for pleasure at the age of seventeen is strongly associated with patterns at nine and thirteen years of age.
All of this tells us how important it is to encourage reading to and with children right from the start of life, not just when they start school. At nine years old, only 6% of children report never reading for pleasure. At thirteen, however, this figure rises to 19%, and within another four years, there is a significant decline: over half of seventeen-year olds never read for pleasure. In this older age group, our role is to help maintain that enthusiasm for reading as children transition to secondary school and as they exit the school system and move into adult life. More than half of twenty-year olds in Ireland reported in Ireland reported that secondary school had been of no help in fostering an appreciation of reading for pleasure. Children’s Books Ireland’s target audience is from newborn to eighteen years old, and we must find the right ways to share our enthusiasm and expertise with children, young people and the adults who guide their reading at various times in their lives.
Why do we do what we do?
Reading has the power to change lives. A robust body of evidence paints a vivid picture of what reading can do for a child or young person: reading for pleasure improves literacy, numeracy and builds vocabulary in young children. Two key experiences in children’s lives which can support their development as readers are having a favourite book at the age of three and being a member of the library. Reading has been shown to build empathy, and improves mental wellbeing: children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing than children who don’t. Reading is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background. According to the OECD, finding ways to engage students in reading may be one of the most effective ways to leverage social change.
What all this tells us is that Children’s Books Ireland can make a difference, and that by working to ensure that every child has a chance to develop a love of reading, we can improve the lives of children and young people all over the island of Ireland.
We want young readers to feel the joy and excitement of finding a book that speaks to them – whether it reflects their own reality or allows them to travel through time and space to see the world through someone else’s eyes. We want to celebrate reading for the love of it in all its forms, from verse novels to non-fiction, fantasy to poetry and picturebooks in Irish and English.
Strategic aims and objectives/our goals and how we will achieve them
We will champion the right of every child and young person in Ireland to experience the joy of reading high quality books. We will support young readers to find the right book for them and create an atmosphere of excitement around sharing and discussing books.
How will we achieve our goal?
a. We will influence Government policy and advocate for key initiatives which support children and young people’s right to read
b. We will give the gift of excellent books to children and young people who may not otherwise become readers
c. Our work will include children and young people all over the island of Ireland, embracing both our national languages
We believe in the unique value of Irish children’s literature, made by illustrators, authors, poets, translators, publishers and storytellers. We will create opportunities for these artists so that they can have fulfilling careers, and so that young readers in Ireland can experience the richness and diversity of contemporary Irish society and culture expressed in literature.
We will provide the tools for families, teachers, librarians and booksellers to connect young readers with books they will love. We will guide these adults to nurture children and young people’s reading and connect them with high-quality books from birth throughout their childhoods and into their teenage years.
How will we achieve our goal?
a. We will encourage a positive culture around reading for enjoyment in schools
b. We will champion children and young people’s reading in the media
c. We will guide families to encourage a love of reading in their children
d. We will implement a strong communications strategy so that our programmes, resources and publications reach the broadest audiences possible
In order to work towards our vision and support future generations of young readers, Children’s Books Ireland will ensure that our ways of working set us up for success and longevity.
How will we achieve our goal?
a. We will measure the impact of our work and communicate it clearly to stakeholders
b. We will identify opportunities to enable children and young people to participate meaningfully in our planning and decision-making
c. We will adhere to good governance practices, working openly and honestly
d. We will develop clear fundraising strategies to ensure that we have the resources and capacity needed to achieve our mission
e. We will participate in an international community to share best practice and exchange learning
The people who make up Children’s Books Ireland care deeply about the work we do. We are an energetic, creative and flexible team, and we take pride in maintaining an extremely high standard across all our work.
Children’s Books Ireland is at the heart of the children’s book community. We nurture an ecosystem that is vital to children’s reading, and work in partnership with like-minded people and organisations towards our shared vision of making every child a reader for life.
We value kindness and inclusion within our team and when working with our partners. We are open, friendly and accessible in all our interactions and activities.