This December, Children’s Books Ireland is gifting a bedtime story to children all over Ireland as they face into a difficult Christmas. With the support of the Arts Council and KPMG, 6,000 Irish books will be gifted to children and young people in centres of direct provision, hospitals and homeless services nationwide.
There are currently over 2,100 children in centres of direct provision and over 2,500 in homeless accommodation or accessing homeless services. With the help of charity partners – including Barnardos, Focus Ireland, Children In Hospital Ireland, and St Vincent De Paul – books will be gifted to children and families across the country so that they can share a bedtime story this Christmas.
A recent survey conducted by Scottish Book Trust highlights the importance of access to books and the value of reading during difficult times. The survey revealed 92% of respondents agreed that reading is important to them in times of stress or anxiety and 98% agreed that reading supports their wellbeing. Respondents also mentioned reading to escape as a child when they were in difficult situations.
CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, Elaina Ryan, said:
‘All over Ireland there are children who do not own a book, who may not have a culture of reading at home or who need cheering up when things are really tough. We know that books can make things a little bit better and brighter for them, and if one book leads to another, and another, and another, books can make things significantly better: reading for pleasure is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. What that tells us is that we can make a difference, if we can just bring the joy of reading to children who need it most.’
All 6,000 books are by Irish authors, illustrators or publishers – giving a much-needed boost to a sector that has suffered greatly this year. The majority are featured in Children’s Books Ireland’s Books Make Things Better reading guide, which launched on Culture Night 2020 in partnership with the Arts Council. The guide highlights Irish children’s books published in 2020 and is designed to help adults find the best Irish children’s books for the young readers in their lives. Copies will be available free of charge from participating bookshops nationwide when they reopen in December and, for those needing help with their online book shopping, the guide is available to download here. Parents, guardians, grandparents, aunties and uncles are encouraged to use the Books Make Things Better reading guide to find the perfect Irish children’s book, and to buy Irish and buy local this Christmas.
Sarah Bannan, Head of Literature at the Arts Council, said:
‘The Arts Council recognises that writers and illustrators are the heart of children’s literature. We know, too, that the magic of books is made real when they are opened and read and shared. While this has been a difficult year for so many, books remain a place where we can find solace, or joy, or new perspectives. Writers, illustrators and publishers deserve our collective support so that we can continue to discover the joy of books and reading. We can think of no greater pleasure to offer you this winter than this brilliant guide, and the books within it.’
This year Children’s Books Ireland, with the support of its partners, has donated over 16,000 books to children and young people in family hubs, schools, hospitals and homeless services across the country. We are championing every child’s right to experience the joy of reading, regardless of their circumstances, and with your support we can provide more children and young people with access to books. Donate €12 today to #GiftABook and help us bring the joy of reading into more young lives in 2021.
Seamus Hand, Managing Partner of KPMG said:
‘Every child should have the opportunity to read, discover and enjoy books and to experience all the magic and joy they can bring. At KPMG, we are really proud of what we do to promote children’s literacy and education so we’re delighted to support this great initiative gifting the wonder of books to children in need all over Ireland this winter.’