Children’s Books Ireland gifts books to families in the Travelling Community for World Book Day

assorted title book lot
Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

WORLD Book Day is an annual celebration of books and reading observed in over 100 countries around the globe. To mark the occasion this year, Children’s Books Ireland is making a special gift of 1,100 books to children and young people in the Travelling Community.

A variety of high-quality picturebooks and early readers will be gifted to families through outreach services around the country, including the Tipperary Rural Travellers Project, West Limerick Resources, the Donegal Travellers Project, Pavee Point and Involve Youth Services.

The selection includes ‘Why the Moon Travels – a collection of stories rooted in the oral tradition of the Irish Traveller Community’ – by Mincéir author Oein DeBhairduin and illustrated by Leanne McDonagh, a young Traveller woman.

CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, Elaina Ryan, said:

“Mincéir communities all over Ireland were so enthusiastic when they received books from Children’s Books Ireland at Christmas. On World Book Day we are delighted, with the support of over 130 donors to the Gift A Book campaign, to share more brilliant books with Traveller families around Ireland, particularly Oein DeBhairduin and Leanne McDonagh’s Why The Moon Travels. There is huge power in a child seeing themselves and their culture in a book, and knowing that these opportunities are open to them, too.”

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

A body of research indicates that reading is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents/guardians’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.

Pavee Point reports that 7 out of 10 Traveller children live in families where the mother has either no formal education or primary education only, and that many Traveller children experience discrimination, isolation and marginalisation at school. Research has also shown that each additional book in the home confers significantly larger benefits for families that have few books than families who already have many.

Nuala Martin of Tipperary Rural Travellers Project said:

“We are a Traveller Project in Co. Tipperary that run a Family Learning programme for Traveller children from age 4 to 12 and we received a selection of new books from Children’s Books Ireland at Christmas time. The excitement the children had at being gifted these colourful, modern, fresh books out of the blue was incredible. The books brought smiles to all of their faces, with many children owning for the first time in their lives a brand new book, a book that they could write their name on and tuck under their pillow at night. We are so thrilled to be gifted further books for these children on World Book Day – they will treasure them.”

Funding for this book-gifting initiative was raised through Children’s Books Ireland’s ‘Gift A Book’ Christmas appeal, which asked that donations of €12 be made to gift a book to a child who may not otherwise have access to books of their own. The initiative is supported by The O’Brien Press and Walker Books who have each donated 100 copies of their World Book Day titles. In light of feedback from Traveller resource centres on the need and desire for new books, Children’s Books Ireland have dedicated this fund to enable more children and young people in the Travelling Community to discover and develop a love of reading.