Bookbag is a children’s book gifting initiative established by picturebook maker and creator of the Henry Hugglemonster series, Niamh Sharkey, during her term as Laureate na nÓg (2012–2014) and is delivered in partnership with Brown Bag Films and Children’s Books Ireland. 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, the Bookbag project builds a buzz around reading and encourages a whole-school reading culture, which should be sustainable beyond the duration of the project. Bookbag 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; the type of book that we hope will draw in a child who does not already think of themselves as a reader.
This year, the winning school is St Catherine’s Infant School, a DEIS Band 1 school in Cabra. This small school of 127 students teaches children from junior infants to first class, as well as an ASD class. They told us of their need for brilliant new books to excite their pupils and large format picturebooks in the classroom. We liked that their enthusiasm was not just for the new books they would receive, but also for the buzz about reading that a Bookbag handover day would generate in the school, and in the wider school community. This is a school already working hard to build a culture of reading in the school, and we wanted to support and encourage that.
As part of Bookbag:
- – Every child in the school receives a Bookbag containing a free book to take home and keep
- – A whole-school launch event is held, where students of all ages and their parents/grandparents/carers engage in a large-scale Monster Doodle, exploring creativity through illustration with animators from Brown Bag Films
- – Every class in the school gets a visit from an author or illustrator
- – Materials (such as the Children’s Books Ireland Recommended Reads) are provided for teachers to guide their future book choices
- – The school receives an annual membership to Children’s Books Ireland
- – The Children’s Books Ireland team works with the chosen school to assess their specific needs, and any remaining budget is used to address these needs and build a sustainable reading culture within the school
We’re looking forward to rolling out our 2020 Bookbag with St. Catherine’s Infant School in the new year!
Stay posted for more updates coming soon!
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.