Kildare librarian wins Annual Children's Books Ireland Award

September 2022
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Kildare branch librarian, Carmel Hester, the 2022 recipient of the Annual Children’s Books Ireland Award for her outstanding contribution to children’s books.

Kildare librarian picks up national award for outstanding contribution to children’s books

Kildare branch librarian, Carmel Hester, is the 2022 recipient of the Annual Children’s Books Ireland Award for her outstanding contribution to children’s books. The announcement, made at the Children’s Books Ireland International Conference this weekend, recognised Carmel’s passion for fostering a love of reading in children from an early age. 

CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, Elaina Ryan said: 

We’re thrilled to make this award in person and delighted to recognise Carmel for her outstanding contribution to children’s books, through innovative and engaging ways of encouraging children to fall in love with reading.

Her nomination showed us just how passionately she believes in the power of words and storytelling to make a real difference to the lives of children. The fact that many of the parents who bring their children to hear her storytelling were themselves brought to her sessions as children is testament to the extra magic she undoubtedly adds to the experience.”

Kildare branch librarian, Carmel Hester, the 2022 recipient of the Annual Children’s Books Ireland Award for her outstanding contribution to children’s books. Pictured with her family at the Light House Cinema, Dublin.

In her drive to make reading as accessible as possible to all children, Carmel, who joined Kildare Library Service in 1992, has driven initiatives such as ‘Lámh signs storytime’ with children from St Anne’s Special School on the Curragh.  She also goes ‘on tour’ twice a month, bringing storytime to two local crèches and ensures that the Kildare Libraries ‘Early Learning Fun’ (ELF) book collection for pre-school children is regularly shared and rotated among local creches.

Carmel was nominated for the award by colleague Amye Quigley, who said:

Carmel goes to extraordinary lengths to encourage a love of reading in children. Wearing multi-coloured flowing robes and a matching wig, she welcomes the children to her storytelling sessions with fairy dust, soft teddies and animal friends, and a dazzling selection of books.

"Carmel has always believed that if we start reading with the children from the day they are born, they will always have a bond with books, and a love of words. She loves the ‘My First Library Card’ which she promotes to young parents as a means of encouraging early reading. Although the pandemic put a temporary halt to in-person storytime, Carmel continued to deliver storytime online. She talks to children as equals, and they love her. She is a wonderful storyteller and she deserves recognition for everything she does."

Carmel’s philosophy on reading and developing a love for books in children is simple. She says: 

“It is important to read to children out loud and keep them engaged. The only rule should be that there is ‘continuity’, meaning a regular storytime at least once a week in a safe and comfortable environment where children of all nationalities can join together and make reading fun.”