Bookbag is a children’s book gifting initiative that aims to to get books into the hands of children through disadvantaged primary schools in Ireland, and to inspire a love of reading in young people.
Aimed at DEIS schools in areas of disadvantage, where free books are most needed, the Bookbag project gifts each child in chosen schools with a book to take home and keep, as well as encouraging a sustainable reading culture within the school.
We do this through giving a book to every child in the school, in a bag containing a poster, bookmark, stickers and a letter from Niamh Sharkey, champion of reading and former Laureate na nÓg.
These Bookbags are for each child to take home and keep, and the books are chosen carefully with the aim of capturing the imaginations of avid and reluctant readers alike. Bookbag also ensures that every class in the school is visited by a writer or illustrator.
These experiences can be a powerful way to encourage a love of reading and bring stories to life.
Bookbag assesses the particular needs of each school we work with and, within the constraints of our budget, we aim to address issues and build on strengths to develop a strong reading culture within the school.
Towers and Tales
Niamh is a founder and artistic director of Towers and Tales, The Children’s Book Festival, Lismore, Co. Waterford.
Towers and Tales is a celebration of children’s books, stories and illustration, designed to give young audiences unforgettable, creative and transformational experiences with books.
A particular feature of the festival is ‘Bookbag’ a book gifting initiative that donates books directly to a school of disadvantage in the local area. We hope to raise the profile for my shared mission with Children’s Books Ireland to establish a national universal book-gifting scheme like the UK’s Bookstart in Ireland.
One of Niamh’s most successful projects as the laureate was the creation of The Monster Doodle.
The Monster Doodle is a large scale drawing event where you roll out huge rolls of Fabriano paper over 10 metres long, Niamh does a step by step how to draw a monster workshop and the kids draw with artist quality oil pastels. It’s a fantastic way to encourage children of all ages; and adults, to get involved and excited about stories and illustration. Niamh has facilitated these workshops with thousands of children in Europe and at home in Ireland.