We launched our 7th rollout of Bookbag at St. Brigid’s Infant School in Finglas West on Wednesday, 27th of April. Marking our much anticipated and emotional return to in-person rollouts following the previous virtual event in 2020 and last year's postponement due to Covid-19 restrictions, the day was filled with plenty of excitement and certainly did not disappoint!
Bookbag is a children’s book-gifting initiative established by Niamh Sharkey, during her term as Laureate na nÓg (2012–2014). The project is delivered in partnership with Children’s Books Ireland 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. Bookbag ensures that every child in the school has access to at least one book in their home.
This year, the chosen school was the wonderful St. Brigid’s Infant School in Finglas West. Teachers in the school long dreamed of developing an up-to-date 'Social and Emotional library'. They already had a small but beautiful library space, and just required some support to fill it with beautiful new books for their large number of eager-to-read students.
On April 27, 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 each class visiting their school library, now revamped to include a gorgeous display of over 130 new books. To fulfil the school's dreams, the collection focuses on social and emotional wellbeing with a wide variety of books selected by the Children's Books Ireland team from their Mind Yourself: The Mental Health and Wellbeing Guide.
Following on from the library reveal and after the students enjoyed some time browsing their new collection, every single student was presented with their prized Bookbag, containing their very own book to take home and keep, plus a selection of Mind Yourself materials including a reading guide, bookmark and stickers.
In the afternoon, 1st class students gathered in the school hall to participate in a live Monster Doodle with four of our Dublin studio creatives - Mårten Jönmark, Danny Shiels, Jenni Clifford and Eoghan Lynch.
Episodic Director Mårten Jönmark launched the event with a live drawing demonstration, before the students began working on their giant group masterpiece with support and encouragement from our team. At the same time, students in the junior and senior infants classes were also treated to a pre-recorded Monster Doodle drawalong with Mårten so they could join in the fun too.
Our team thoroughly enjoyed the experience of guiding the students with their drawings during the epic Monster Doodle session and were truly blown away by the talent on display!
On the following Friday, each class was treated to a visit from an author or illustrator behind one of the new books in their library. Leading Irish artists Mary Murphy, Sadhbh Devlin, Margaret Anne Suggs, Tarsila Krüse and Juliette Saumande delivered fun, creative workshops with the mental health and wellbeing themes in mind.
“We would like to thank Children's Books Ireland, Brown Bag films and staff, and the authors and illustrators for two fantastic days at our school. Our Social and Emotional library is a huge asset to our school and will be put to good use for many years as we strive for wellbeing and connection through books. The bookbags are so lovely and very well chosen for each age group. It was a huge privilege for the children to have the experience of live visits by the professionals. As well as enjoying the day, they also experienced role models of careers in the arts.”
—Principal Margaret O'Reilly, St. Brigid's Infant School in Finglas West
We were delighted 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 St. Brigid’s Infant School!
We hope their new library collection will encourage them to explore reading and art, and empower them at this pivotal time in their learning journey.
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 Brown Bag Films and Children’s Books Ireland 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.
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.