Children’s Books Ireland urges Department of Education not to neglect the importance of reading for pleasure

September 2022
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In our #LetsKeepReading campaign, Children’s Books Ireland called on the Department of Education to maintain the €20 million capital allocation to schools for the purchase of books in order to encourage a love of reading for pleasure.  

Through this Budget, is clear that the Department is committed to measures that will lessen the financial burden on families across Ireland. We welcome the funding for free schoolbooks for primary school children from 2023 and we appreciate the pressures of the cost of living and energy crises on this year’s allocation.

However, Children’s Books Ireland strongly believes that funding for books to encourage reading for pleasure must be an essential feature of future Budgets both for primary and post-primary level. As is clear from the 640 applications we received this year for our school book-gifting projects, the one-off school library investment in Budget 2022 was not enough to make up for more than a decade without any funding.

At a very basic level, it is hugely challenging for teachers to deliver on the learning outcomes of the Primary Language Curriculum and the Junior and Senior Cycle English Curricula without reading materials being made available to their students. Funding for school libraries is vital to ensure students have access to a regularly updated selection of new books, relevant to their interests and appropriate to their reading levels.

More importantly, to reduce childhood reading to learning outcomes and literacy is to lose sight of its fundamental importance in the development of our children and young people. Reading for pleasure; reading books that inspire, delight and incite creativity, is well-documented as one of the most powerful determining factors in an individual’s life achievement.

That alone should be evidence enough to ensure that books to read for pleasure are funded on a sustainable basis, not to mention their positive impact on mental wellbeing, and the need to widen access to culture and the arts. For a relatively modest investment, the benefits of childhood reading are almost immeasurable.

We need the Department to have the vision to embed reading for pleasure in the upcoming successor to Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life. so that all children can benefit equally from having access to excellent books. School libraries are key in levelling the playing field between those who already own books or visit their local library, and those who don’t.

At Children’s Books Ireland, our vision is for every child to be a reader. We hope to continue working with the Department of Education over the year ahead to build on the achievements made in 2022 and to continue providing reading materials to children throughout the country.