Children’s Books Ireland recently launched its annual Christmas Appeal. Artwork: Paddy Donnelly

Give the gift of reading

“Everyone has a story to tell, and one of the greatest gifts we can give a child is to help them discover theirs.”

That’s according to Children’s Books Ireland who recently launched its annual Christmas appeal asking the public in Cork to help them share the gift of reading with children across Ireland in 2023.

Children’s Books Ireland is a national charity that champions every child’s right to develop a love of reading, through events, recommended reading guides and extensive book-gifting programmes, which just this year have seen 116,000 books put directly in the hands of young readers, including in Cork. This year’s appeal focuses on the need for children to see stories like theirs in the books on their shelves.

As part of this campaign, Children’s Books Ireland has highlighted a range of Irish writers and illustrators in their gift guides for children, including Cork authors and illustrators:

• Roisin Hahessy and Murieann Ni Chiobhain, authors of ‘Eoinin ag dul a Chodladh’ • Murieann Ni Chiobhain, author of ‘Murphy’s Law’ • Kerry O’Callaghan, illustrator of ‘The A-Z of Minding Me’ • Eamonn O’Neill, illustrator of ‘Not a Cat in Sight’ • David King, author of ‘Sir Adam: the Brave and the Moody Monsters’.

Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, said: “We know that books like these have the power to ignite a child’s imagination, helping them escape from their worries to a place of comfort and security. But they also have the power to help children express themselves and their own stories.

“Recent research from BookTrust UK highlighted the importance of representation and diversity in children’s books, not just for children from ethnic minority backgrounds, but for all. Reading allows children to discover experiences different to their own, developing their empathy and understanding as well as a sense of solidarity and connection with others.”

She explained that through reading, children begin to shape how they see themselves and the world around them, and that every child has the right to feel seen and represented positively in the books they read.

She continued: “That principle is at the heart of everything we do at Children’s Books Ireland. We are a small charity, but we have big ambitions about what we can achieve. Every day we see the huge impact that just one book can have for a child.”

Ms Ryan added: “Many children will have experienced hardship this year, and some are celebrating their first Christmas in Ireland after fleeing war.

“A book may seem like a small gift in that context, but we know that reading can provide a sense of solace, stability and security which may not have been easy to come by this past year.”

Children’s Books Ireland’s Christmas Appeal welcomes both once-off and monthly donations; online, by post or by phone.