Children’s Books Ireland Recommended Reads on Ireland AM

CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, Elaina Ryan, on great children’s books to read at home and activities


MÍP le Máire Zepf agus Paddy Donnelly (4+)

MÍP is blasted off to Mars to capture images of alien life there, but try as she might, there are no aliens to be found… or are there? When an storm happens and MÍP loses contact with earth, the scientists who made her are devastated. But with a little help, MÍP manages to reactivate. Based on real events, (mostly!), the story of brave MÍP, the hardest-working robot in the solar system, is a tale that will inspire earthlings of all ages. A brilliant picturebook that is a first rate example of image and text working brilliantly to tell two conflicting stories.

In the Garden by Noëlle Smit (age 5+)

For families who have become avid gardeners while we’re all staying at home, this beautiful book is a perfect walk through the seasons, looking at what changes in the garden. Each spread represents a month in the year, with vivid colours popping off the page. There’s something very hopeful about seeing the natural cycle of growth, harvest and new beginnings.

ACTIVITY: It might inspire folks to get out and grow their own, in which case the free chapters of GIY’s Grow It Allmanac may provide welcome guidance for what to sow and things to do in the garden each month: free to download at

Coronavirusa book for children, by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (age 5+)

This is a FREE digital information book for primary school age children to help explain the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. It answers lots of questions in a child-friendly way, and aims to both inform and reassure. Published by Nosy Crow and illustrated by Axel Scheffler who families will know as co-creator of the Gruffalo and many other books with Julia Donaldson, the text had expert input from Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and also two headteachers and a child psychologist. Free to download at

The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children in Lockdown, edited by Katherine Rundell (age 7+) Completely free for all children and families, this collection of short stories, poems, essays and pictures has contributions from more than 110 children’s writers and illustrators, including Lauren Child, Michael Morpurgo, Liz Pichon, Axel Scheffler, Francesca Simon, Jacqueline Wilson – and Katherine Rundell herself.

The Book of Hopes aims to comfort, inspire and encourage children during lockdown through delight, new ideas, ridiculous jokes and heroic tales. There are true accounts of cats and hares and plastic-devouring caterpillars; there are doodles and flowers; revolting poems and beautiful poems; and there are stories of space travel and new shoes and dragons.

Barney Goose: A Wild Atlantic Way Adventure by Carol Ann Treacy (age 7+)

We might not be able to travel at the moment but we can live vicariously through Barney Goose as he travels the Wild Atlantic Way from West Cork all the way to Donegal. See the sights and meet new friends in each new location.

Irish Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends by Kieran Fanning (age 8+)

A complete collection of much loved Irish fairy tales, myths and legends, bound into a beautiful new edition. Enjoy the rich mythical history of Ireland from the arrival of the Tuatha De Danann on the island and their great battles with the Fomorians right up to the modern day fairytales of Irish storytelling. Including the Ulster Cycle, and the Fenian Cycle, the book features heroes such as Cuchulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and many traditional favourites such as The Children of Lir.


KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards

This year’s awards ceremony will take place digitally on our YouTube channel – you can tune in live on the 19th of May at 12pm to hear the winners of the KPMG Children’s Book of the Year Awards announced by Rick O Shea. New video pieces from many of our shortlisted artists are available on our website now, with new videos released twice a week leading up to the awards announcement. These are a mix of readings and activities for all ages.

During these challenging times, KPMG, as sponsor of the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards, is calling on teachers, parents, guardians, relatives, friends and librarians to nominate their KPMG Reading Hero. All over the island of Ireland extraordinary young people whose participation and interest in books and reading outside of the awards is remarkable. 4. The KPMG Reading Hero will receive a €200 / £180 book voucher and their school will receive €1000/£900 book token and a set of the books shortlisted for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards. There will be five runner up prizes of €100 /£90 book tokens for each nominated runner up.

In the lead up to the awards, a weekly competition based on a creative writing or illustration activity and judged by a number of our shortlisted artists, will keep young readers feeling creative, with a €100 weekly prize. Week 5 (4 – 8 May): In less than 250 words, explain if you could meet any author who would it be and why. For more information see

ImagineNation playbook

The ImagineNation playbook, a creative activity book published by Children’s Books Ireland and An Post, is free to download and features activities and creative writing prompts from some of Ireland’s best authors and illustrators. Two new pages as Gaeilge have just been released. Featuring artists including Oliver Jeffers, Niall Breslin, Mary Murphy, Sadhbh Devlin, Don Conroy, Niamh Sharkey and many more.

The Any-Book Book Club

This free-to-download booklet features boredom-busting activities that you can do with any book you have lying around at home. Including book dominoes and book feasts, these are brilliant suggestions here for creative ways to tell stories and use books in new and unusual ways. (No printer required!)