Children’s Books Ireland Celebrates 20 Years

* Inaugural Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries *

* New Patronage by Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch and three former Laureates *

Throughout 2017 Children’s Books Ireland is celebrating twenty years of making books a part of every child’s life. Since 1997 the national non-profit children’s books organisation has celebrated children’s books and the joy of reading for pleasure through projects such as the CBI Book of the Year Awards, Inis magazine, the Inis Reading Guide and the annual reading campaign (formerly Children’s Book Festival). New initiatives to celebrate the anniversary include the inaugural Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries and the announcement of Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch and his three predecessors as Patrons of CBI.

CBI’s vision is to make books central to every child’s life. With this in mind, Director Elaina Ryan points to recent Arts Council/ESRI research which highlights the reading habits of children in Ireland: ‘We know that lots of children are reading: over half of three-year-olds and two-thirds of five-year-olds are read to every day. Keeping reading in the mix as they grow older is the challenge: at the age of 9, only 6% of children said they never read, while at the age of 13, that figure increases to 21%. One of CBI’s roles is to make sure parents, teachers and librarians have the tools they need to choose or recommend great books for children of all ages, from birth through the teenage years, and that young people make time to read despite their increasingly busy lives.’

Named in memory of CBI’s former patron and champion of children’s books, the Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries will be awarded annually to four schools. Each library of books will be worth €1,500. Applications will open in September; for more information sign up to the CBI newsletter at As CBI hits its 21st year, they are delighted to announce four new Patrons – current Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch and his three predecessors: Siobhán Parkinson (2010–12), Niamh Sharkey (2012–14) and Eoin Colfer (2014–16). These high-profile children’s authors and illustrators were honoured as Laureate for their significant contributions to children’s literature. “In the past two decades Children’s Books Ireland has become synonymous with a love for reading and books,” said Eoin Colfer. “For readers, writers and publishers alike the passionate individuals of CBI are our champions and our heroes.”

Children’s Books Ireland initiatives:

Book Clinics

The CBI Book clinics pop-up at festivals, in arts centres, museums and shopping centres throughout the year, featuring Book Doctors in lab coats who write ‘book prescriptions’ for great reads for children. After an informal chat with their ‘patients’, the Book Doctors recommend excellent books, comics or graphic novels, often using the Inis Reading Guide as a tool, which is given to each family to take home along with a Reading Passport, filled with activities, space for reviewing and doodling and a challenges list for each child to complete. In the waiting room, young patients can get creative through drawing and colouring on ‘doodle starters’, where young people add detail to an existing scene.

CBI Book of the Year Awards

The CBI Book of the Year Awards celebrates excellence in Irish children’s literature. As well as CBI’s panel of adult judges, the Shadowing Scheme gives young readers the resources to read and discuss the shortlisted books in their class or book club, and choose the winner of the Children’s Choice award, following the same scoring process as the judges. Categories include the CBI Book of the Year Award, Honour Award for Fiction, Honour Award for Illustration, Eilís Dillon Award (for a first book), Judges’ Special Award and Children’s Choice Award. The shortlisted books are announced at the Belfast Children’s Festival in March, with the winners announced at the International Literature Festival Dublin in May.

CBI Conference

The CBI conference takes place each September and celebrates the best in Irish and international children’s books. A weekend of talks, panel discussions and interviews with some of the most exciting creators of books for young people, this event is a great way to discover new books and meet like-minded book-lovers. As part of the conference, CBI presents an award in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the world of children’s books.

Inis magazine and the Inis Reading Guide

Inis magazine is unique in being dedicated solely to coverage of children’s books. Packed with book reviews and features on all aspects of children’s books, it is published three times a year and sent direct to CBI members. The Inis Reading Guide is published every October and contains hundreds of reviews of the year’s best books for children of all ages, from young babies to older teenagers.

Reading Campaign

During October, CBI produces posters, stickers and bookmarks featuring a specially commissioned artwork by an Irish illustrator. Libraries host author and illustrator events throughout the month and CBI runs regular book competitions on social media. An annual competition with The O’Brien Press asks children to design a new book cover for a chosen book; the winner has their cover published and their edition sold all over Ireland.

Laureate na nÓg

Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of Children’s Books Ireland, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Department of children and Youth Affairs and Poetry Ireland. The designation honours a writer or illustrator who has made a significant contribution to children’s books in Ireland, and aims to raise the profile of children’s literature in Ireland and internationally. Writer, translator and publisher Siobhán Parkinson was the inaugural Laureate from 2010–2012, followed by illustrator Niamh Sharkey from 2012–2014, writer Eoin Colfer from 2014-2016 and current Laureate, illustrator PJ Lynch 2016–2018.

Children’s Books Ireland is core funded by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon with additional regular support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Culture Ireland.