Teens encouraged to read

By Geraldine Fitzgerald

When children discover the joy of reading, they get the keys to a whole world of discovery.

Reading is infinitely more fun than mindless scrolling and once kids develop a taste of books, their appetite can become voracious.

It all starts with one book. Cork County Council Library and Arts Service has announced the inaugural One County, One Book 2021 read for teens and young adults.

The initiative is designed to promote literacy as part of its community outreach programmes to young people, as well as our excellent homegrown literature.

Cork born author and journalist Caroline O’Donghue has penned the chosen book, ‘All Our Hidden Gifts’, which will be prominently placed in all library branches. Having written two adult novels and being shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards’ Newcomer of the Year and the Kate O’Brien Award, ‘All Our Hidden Gifts’ is Caroline’s first novel for young adults.

It’s a supernatural mystery that plays out against the backdrop of contemporary Ireland while exploring the theme of acceptance.

Protagonist Maeve’s tarot card readings make her the talk of her school until a classmate draws an unfamiliar card and then disappears. It’s a tale that will enthral fiction fans.

The One County, One Book initiative will encourage young people over age 15 to read the book and participate in programmed events from September to November 2021.

The programme includes virtual author visits to five Cork secondary schools, where the book will be read by transition year students, as well as art and music competitions.

In November, students will also have the opportunity to discuss the literature with the author, while exploring related issues such as acceptance and inclusion.

Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Gillian Coughlan welcomed the initiative: “I’m proud to see Cork County Council’s Library and Arts Service continue to be accessible and welcoming to people of all ages and to do so by spotlighting an incredibly talented Cork author.

“This exciting programme sets out the ambitions of the service and has been especially committed to working with schools throughout the county to encourage our younger readers. I invite young adults and teens across the county to celebrate their creativity and enter the various art and music competitions as set out in the programme.”

Author, Caroline O’Donoghue said: "I couldn't be more delighted by this. I spent my childhood in and out of libraries. I spent hours either messing around on the computers or discovering the authors that shaped my understanding of both reading and my perception of Ireland. “Whether it was Marita Conlon McKenna or Cora Harrison, I feel so lucky to have grown up in an era of publishing where Irish kids were given such a strong sense of their own national identity, as well as the various injustices that are baked into our history as Irish people.

“It was that thoughtful dedication to children's reading – shaped by not just the libraries but the entire Irish book industry – that formed the DNA of ‘All Our Hidden Gifts’.

“It is such a privilege to be able to pick up that torch and pass it on with the One County, One Book initiative.”

Deputy Chief Executive of Cork County Council, James Fogarty noted: “Our libraries play a vital role in our communities, providing social and academic supports and fostering a culture of creativity and appreciation countywide. “Cork County is a literary haven, with a strong tradition of local creativity and through the One County, One Book programme, Cork County Council is welcoming the next generation of readers and writers into this enduring and valuable countywide community.”

Cork County Librarian, Emer O’Brien said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to promote ‘All Our Hidden Gifts’ by Caroline O’Donoghue as a read for teens and young adults in Cork county.

“We want to promote reading amongst teens and young adults and welcome the fact that this book may help them to positively explore the issues of acceptance and diversity, as well as inspiring them to connect with reading as a leisure activity at a time of their lives when they have lots of pressures and stresses.”

Copies of the book will be available in Cork County Council Library and Arts Service branch and mobile libraries.