Funded by Brown Bag Films and delivered in partnership with Children's Books Ireland, Bookbag encourages a love of reading and a culture of books in Dublin-based primary schools by gifting a book to every student in the school, ensuring that every class in the school is visited by an author or illustrator, and creating a school-wide buzz around reading.

Bookbag was initiated by picturebook maker Niamh Sharkey during her term as Laureate na nÓg (2012 - 2014). At this time Niamh worked as executive producer on the award-winning animation Henry Hugglemonster with Brown Bag Films, based on her picturebook I'm a Happy Hugglewug, and Bookbag was a way for Brown Bag to help Niamh achieve her aim of getting books into the hands of children who need them. Bookbag is aimed at schools in areas of disadvantage in Dublin, which may not have the necessary resources to fund author or illustrator visits or books for a school library. The needs of each school we work with is first assessed and, within the constraints of our budget, we aim to address their particular issues and build on their strengths to develop a strong reading culture within the school.

By gifting a book to each child to take home and keep, the project ensures that every child in the school has access to at least one book in their home. The books gifted are chosen carefully: they are visually striking, entertaining, funny and engaging, with the aim of capturing the imaginations of avid and reluctant readers alike. These books are handed over at a fun-filled launch day, along with stickers, bookmarks, and reading resources designed by the Bookbag team. Past launches have also involved live workshops with leading authors and illustrators, as well as a large-scale Monster Doodle activity in which students can create artwork together. Following the launch, every class is visited by an author or illustrator. 

These experiences can be a powerful way to encourage a love of reading and bring stories to life. By building a buzz around reading, the project encourages a reading culture across the whole school and into the wider community, at home and beyond. It is hoped that this culture is sustainable beyond the duration of the project.

Niamh's goal to establish a nationwide, universal book gifting scheme is something that Children's Books Ireland strongly believes in and is still working towards, building on her progress.

Sign up to our schools email newsletter in the footer at the bottom of this page to be notified with applications open for all of our book gifting and schools projects.

  • A book for every child in the school to keep, presented in a specially designed giftbag
  • An author or illustrator visit for every class in the school
  • A fun-filled launch day, organised by Children's Books Ireland, involving activities such as an author/illustrator workshop or a Monster Doodle art activity with the Brown Bag Films team
  • Print materials designed by Children's Books Ireland, such as stickers, bookmarks, and reading guides
  • Bookbag is aimed is at primary schools in areas of disadvantage in Dublin
  • We are particularly interested in schools which may not have the necessary resources to fund books for a school library or author or illustrator visit, but are already working towards building a culture of reading in their school.

The callout for applications takes place each Autumn.

Please contact should you have any further queries in regards to this or any of our book gifting initiatives.

Applications must be made by a member of school staff. This ensures we get a complete and accurate picture of the school's needs, status, and demographic. Please feel free to encourage your child's school to apply.

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