#LetsKeepReading: Children’s Books Ireland Calls for the Maintenance of the €20m School Library Book Fund

August 2022
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Anya Czyran (10) from Holywell ETNS Swords, discovering her new school library gifted by Children's Books Ireland.

Children’s Books Ireland has launched its pre-budget submission for 2023.

We're calling on the Department of Education to maintain the €20m investment that was made in Budget 2022 towards rebuilding schools’ library stock after over a decade without funding to buy books.

We’re also also asking that, in Budget 2023, the Department of Education:

  • Commit to a timeline on the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Education, Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science in its Report on Leaving Certificate Reform, in particular: All Primary and Post Primary Schools should have a School Library, School Librarian and full access to the School Digital Library Service.
  • Expand the number of JCSP libraries in secondary schools from the existing 30 as per the 2005 DEIS plan.

What's the problem?

Despite the funding granted to schools last year, Children’s Books Ireland still received almost 650 applications for our school library donation programmes this year. The once-off investment needs to be maintained to make up for the long period in which school libraries were under-resourced and to ensure that children have ongoing access to the books they need.

As Ireland faces a cost of living crisis, many families will struggle with basic back to school costs for their children. Barnardos Back to School Survey 2022 revealed that two thirds of primary school parents and three quarters of secondary parents were concerned about back to school costs. Many will be forced to prioritise the purchase of uniforms, school books and shoes, making access to books at school all the more important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Reading has the power to change children’s lives. A vast body of evidence shows that reading for fun in childhood improves literacy and numeracy skills, empathy, and mental wellbeing. Reading is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.

Ensuring effective access to and participation in cultural activities for all is an essential dimension of promoting an inclusive society, according to a European Commission publication from the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. In short, making sure that every child can find a book they love at school levels the playing field for those who may not have books at home.


How can I help?

1. Your voice matters.

Email your TD and local representatives using the email template below, letting them know that you support the maintenance of the €20 million School Library Book Grant in Budget 2023. 

Dear Senator/Deputy/Minister,

I am writing in support of Children's Books Ireland's Let’s Keep Reading campaign.

In 2022, for the first time in over a decade, the Education budget included funding for schools to buy new reading materials for their libraries.

It was an excellent starting point to help schools begin to restock their bookshelves, and refresh their offering for the young readers in their care. However, a once-off investment is not enough to make up for the ten years in which school libraries were neglected.

Books should not be a luxury item: they are essential for the development and wellbeing of the children and young people in this country. Reading has the power to change lives, with access to books at school all the more important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I am asking you, as my voice in Leinster House, to articulate your support for sustainable funding for books in schools and the maintenance of the €20 million School Library Book Grant in Budget 2023. In this way, we can ensure that every child has access to the lifelong benefits of books and reading.

Yours sincerely,

YOUR NAME

2. Spread the word!

Share our campaign on social media using the hashtag #LetsKeepReading. Don't forget to tag us!

You can find us on:

Facebook : @childrensbooksireland

Twitter: @kidsbooksirel

Instagram: @kidsbooksirel

LinkedIn: @Children'sBooksIreland