ESB Energy for Generations Fund supports Children’s Books Ireland to gift reading packs to summer camps for marginalised and disadvantaged children

Children’s Books Ireland is conscious of the profound impact of the pandemic and related school closures on children’s reading, as well as on their mental health and wellbeing, particularly for children from marginalised or disadvantaged communities or those living in difficult circumstances.

We are pleased to announce that the ESB Energy for Generations Fund is supporting Children’s Books Ireland to gift specially-designed reading packs to summer camps and activities for children aged 5–12 from marginalised or disadvantaged communities nationwide. Thanks to ESB’s generous support, we are providing €10,000 worth of books and resources to groups and organisations that service and support children who are socio-economically disadvantaged, homeless, asylum seekers, members of the Traveller and Roma communities, or experiencing domestic abuse or other difficult circumstances. The books and resources have been carefully selected from our Mind Yourself project, produced in partnership with Jigsaw and ISPCC Childline, to promote children’s mental health and wellbeing.

This July, a total of twenty-seven packs have been distributed nationwide to the following groups and organisations:

– Aisling Project, Ballymun (Dublin 9)

– COPE Galway (Galway)

– Direct Provision centres (Donegal, Meath)

– Every Child is Your Child (Direct Provision centres in Limerick, Galway, Cork, and Tipperary)

– Kilkenny Traveller Community Movement (Kilkenny)

– Saint Vincent De Paul (Dublin, Galway & Waterford)

– STAR Project, FDYS (Wexford)

– Tipperary Rural Travellers Project (Tipperary)

– Traveller Visibility Group (Cork)

– Wicklow Travellers Group (Wicklow)

Each specially-curated pack contains:

– Over thirty books, with multiple copies of carefully selected titles from our Mind Yourself reading guide

– Printed extracts from the Mind Yourself Resource Pack to accompany each title

– Links to digital resources, including the full Mind Yourself resource and activity pack and the accompanying creative workshop videos

– Art materials to enable children to participate in the suggested activities and workshops

– Posters, stickers, and bookmarks from the Mind Yourself campaign

– Copies of the Mind Yourself reading guide.

These books and resources will be shared and used during summer camp and activities, with facilitators leading the suggested reading aloud sessions, group discussions, collective activities, and creative workshops. Children will be encouraged to share the Mind Yourself print materials with family and friends, and we have ensured that there is a book for each individual child to own and keep afterwards. Findings from National Literacy Trust UK show that, compared to children who don’t have a book of their own, children who own books are:

– six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age

– nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading

– more than twice as likely to agree that reading is cool.

We hope that these reading packs will support youth facilitators to place reading at the heart of their summer camps and activities, and provide the children most in need with an opportunity to experience the joy and myriad benefits reading for pleasure. We also hope that the Mind Yourself resources and expert information will help staff to stay informed and enthused about excellent books for children, the many benefits of reading, and various methods for supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing, long after this summer is over.