Our Dublin studio were delighted to launch the 8th rollout of Bookbag this year at Gaelscoil Phádraig on Wednesday, March 29!
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). The project is delivered in partnership with Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) and 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.
Big day in Gaelscoil Phádraig Ballybrack yesterday, where we held a Bookbag extravaganza with @BrownBagFilms!
Set up during @sharkeytweets' time as @LaureatenanOg, Bookbag works every year to build a buzz around reading and creativity in Dublin schools.
— Children's Books Ireland (@KidsBooksIrel) March 30, 2023
The Bookbag project builds a buzz around reading and encourages a whole-school reading culture, that we hope remains long after the launch. Bookbag ensures that every child in the school has access to at least one book in their home. The books gifted are carefully curated by the amazing CBI team: 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 chosen school was the wonderful Gaelscoil Phádraig, a DEIS Band 2 school in Ballybrack. Catering to 147 students from junior infants to sixth class, the Irish language school told our Bookbag teams of their need for excellent new books to excite their pupils.
With no central library, the students had little to no experience of borrowing books and sharing stories with their classmates. They also expressed a need to have books that reflect the diverse range of students in the school that help them feel seen and represented in the stories they read. Our Bookbag team across Brown Bag Films and CBI were strongly moved by their application and wanted to support and encourage a school that we felt would benefit greatly from the addition of a new library.
On March 29, our Bookbag committee and the book-gifting team at Children's Books Ireland visited the school to present the students with their prize and participate in the handover day activities.
The day kicked off with the set up of eye-catching displays of their new library books at the school, which included a selection of fiction and non-fiction titles spanning across many genres, topics, and formats.
Our Dublin studio Bookbag committee and the CBI team then prepared the room for the Monster Doodle session which was led by our Emmy-Award winning Episodic Director Mårten Jönmark for the 2nd and 3rd class students, who proceeded to create some absolutely spectacular artwork, under the guidance and support from our team.
Our team thoroughly enjoyed the experience of encouraging the students with their drawings during the epic Monster Doodle session and were bowled over by the creativity and imagination showcased by the students! The Monster Doodle masterpiece featured monsters of all shapes and sizes, complete with names and brilliant backstories.
The students used the full scale of the page and this enabled them to be really creative and they got so enthusiastic about sharing their ideas. The monster doodles where left on display in the classroom, so the students could come back later to add more monsters to the spread, and so the 2nd and 3rd class students could showcase their monsters to the rest of the pupils in the school.
Following the Monster Doodle, each student was then gifted a Bookbag with bookmarks, a Picture This reading guide, and a book for them to keep and bring home. The selected books were a mix of books in the Irish language (as Gaeilge), and illustrated books.
The following day, the school was treated to a visit from Children’s book illustrators and authors Tarsila Krüse and Anna Heussaff, who delivered workshops with the children in their classrooms. Author Sadhbh Devlin will visit the pupils next month, after the Easter break. These artists was selected to work with the school due to their experience hosting activities as Gaeilge, ensuring the delivery of excellent workshops that support the ethos of the Gaelscoil.
The school received 345 books in total: 147 for students to keep at home and 198 for their school library. The CBI team selected books mainly from the Free To Be Me and Picture This reading guides, as teachers had flagged that it would be particularly useful to have books that reflected their diverse student population and the increasing interest in heavily illustrated books.
“Our pupils thoroughly enjoyed the Bookbag experience with Children’s Books Ireland and Brown Bag Films. We appreciated the huge amount of thought that went into the beautiful selection of books donated to our library. The students were so delighted with their Bookbags. The children’s imagination came alive during the Monster Doodle led by Brown Bag Films. The visits from the guest authors and illustrators were fantastic, they really topped off an overall wonderful experience.”
—Róise Uí Labhraidh, principal of Gaelscoil Phádraig
We had a truly epic day and were so thrilled to hear such heartwarming feedback from everyone involved and once again extend a HUGE thank you to the incredible team at Children's Books Ireland, our amazing Bookbag team and volunteers, and all the teachers and kids of Gaelscoil Phádraig!
We hope their new library collection will motivate them to dive into reading and art, and inspire them to build on their already jawdropping creative skills.
Bookbag was the winner of the €5,000 DAA Arts Award at the 2014 Allianz Business to Arts Awards and was shortlisted both in 2015 and 2017 for the Best Small Sponsorship category.