Bookbag Launched at St. Brigid’s Infant School in Finglas West

May 2022
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Children exploring their Bookbag library

Wednesday 27th of April saw the launch of Bookbag at St. Brigid’s Infant School in Finglas West.

Bookbag is a children’s book-gifting initiative established by Niamh Sharkey, during her term as Laureate na nÓg (2012–2014). The project is delivered in partnership with Brown Bag Films and Children’s Books Ireland and aimed at schools in areas of disadvantage, which may not have the necessary resources to fund author or illustrator visits or books for a school library. Bookbag ensures that every child in the school has access to at least one book in their home.

This year, the winning school was the wonderful St. Brigid’s Infant School in Finglas West. Teachers in the school long dreamed of developing an up-to-date 'Social and Emotional library'. They already had a small but beautiful library space, and just needed the support to fill it with wonderful new books for their large number of eager-to-read students.

- Mårten Jönmark, Danny Shiels, Jenni Clifford and Eoghan Lynch from Brownbag Films, at the launch of the Bookbag project at St. Brigid’s Infant School in Finglas West.

On Wednesday the 27th of April, the book-gifting team at Children's Books Ireland visited the school to present the students with their prize. The day began with each class visiting their school library, now revamped to include a beautiful display of over 130 new books. To fulfil the school's dreams, the collection focuses on social and emotional wellbeing with a wide variety of books from our Mind Yourself: The Mental Health and Wellbeing Guide. After the students had fun browsing their new collection, every single student was presented with their prized Bookbag, containing their very own book to take home and keep, plus a selection of Mind Yourself materials including a reading guide, bookmark and stickers.

In the afternoon, 1st class students gathered in the school hall to participate in a live Monster Doodle with 4 very special guests from Brownbag Films - Mårten Jönmark, Danny Shiels, Jenni Clifford and Eoghan Lynch, a huge treat for a school with many fans of tv shows Henry Hugglemonster, Doc McStuffins and Octonauts. Episodic Director Mårten Jönmark kicked off the event with a live drawing demonstration, before the students began working on their giant group masterpiece with the support of all the Brownbag visitors. At the same time, students in junior and senior infants were treated to a pre-recorded Monster Doodle drawalong with Mårten, and supplied with all the art materials they would need.

On the following Friday, each class was treated to a visit from an author or illustrator behind one of the new books in their library. Leading Irish artists Mary Murphy, Sadhbh Devlin, Margaret Anne Suggs, Tarsila Krüse and Juliette Saumande delivered fun, creative workshops with the mental health and wellbeing themes in mind.

Principal Margaret O'Reilly commented:

We would like to thank Children's Books Ireland, Brown Bag films and staff, and the authors and illustrators for two fantastic days at our school. Our Social and Emotional library is a huge asset to our school and will be put to good use for many years as we strive for wellbeing and connection through books. The bookbags are so lovely and very well chosen for each age group. It was a huge privilege for the children to have the experience of live visits by the professionals. As well as enjoying the day, they also experienced role models of careers in the arts.

Bookbag was the winner of the €5,000 DAA Arts Award at the 2014 Allianz Business to Arts Awards and was short listed both in 2015 and 2017 for the Best Small Sponsorship category.