Children’s Books Ireland offers free books to babies in Limerick

Children’s Books Ireland unveils details of the Bookseed baby book-gifting programme 2021 with a beautiful selection of free books being made available for collection from participating Limerick City and County Library branches from 19 June, 2021.

Juliette Rose (age 21 months) from Castletroy and Lana Gaughan (age 3) from Castletroy pictured at the re-launch of the Bookseed baby book-gifting project in Limerick. | Pic. Brian Arthur

The Bookseed programme is available to families in fourteen areas of Limerick City and County and aims to get parents and guardians reading to their babies from birth. The organisers of the initiative – Children’s Books Ireland, Limerick Libraries and the HSE – are particularly trying to reach families who may have missed out during Covid-19 closures.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said, ‘We are so pleased to be working with Limerick Libraries and the HSE in Limerick again after a long Covid-enforced break, and we really appreciate their continued support on this project. Limerick babies can once again collect their free books from selected health centres and libraries and we can’t wait to share the magic of these wonderful books by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Chris Haughton and Mary Murphy with them. International evidence shows that that early years book-gifting programmes support families by encouraging them to read with their children from an earlier age with all the benefits that brings. In our soon-to-be-published evaluation of this programme, feedback from Limerick parents and guardians mirrors this body of evidence.’

Families can collect a book bag with THREE free books, along with a Bookseed reading guide from Limerick City and County Library branches in Abbeyfeale, Adare, Dooradoyle, Kilmallock, Newcastle West and Watch House Cross. Parents and guardians of children aged 1–2 who may have already received their first Bookseed books at their developmental checks with their public health nurse can also collect the final book, Goodnight Like This by Mary Murphy, from these Limerick library branches.

Free Bookseed events for Limerick families will also take place on Zoom with over the summer. The first of these is with author-illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick on 17 June, with more to follow.  Families can find and register for these events here.

In Spring 2019, public health nurses began to distribute books to babies attending their three-month developmental checks at health centres in Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West, Barrack View, Croom, Rathkeale and Southill. The €75,000 project, which has been extended to include over 2,000 babies in health centres across the city and county, provides parents and guardians with tips on reading to infants and information on how to join their local library. The project has now been adapted to allow the collection of all three books both from health centres and libraries to ensure that these books can get into the hands of babies as soon as possible.

Bookseed is all about families enjoying books together, starting children on a lifelong journey with reading. Children who have been read to and who read for pleasure are more likely to do well at school, to have a wider vocabulary and to have higher levels of mental wellbeing. Parents, guardians or carers are encouraged and supported to share books with their child from a very early stage and to foster in them a lifelong love of reading. Limerick families can look out for more fun events with children’s book artists with Limerick Libraries over the summer.

Bookseed is funded by the JP McManus Benevolent Fund and Rethink Ireland to support babies in Limerick. West Limerick Resources, together with the West Limerick Primary Health Care Project for Travellers, will help to distribute Bookseed bags to families in the Travelling Community.

For more information on the Bookseed project, click here.