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Bookbag Rollout at Scoil Íosagáin Boys’ Primary School with Children’s Books Ireland

Our Dublin studio were delighted to launch the 9th rollout of Bookbag this year at Scoil Íosagáin, Boys Primary School on Thursday, May 23rd.

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.

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 winning school was Scoil Íosagáin Boys’ Primary School in Crumlin, Dublin. With 76 students from second to sixth class, the school library was in need of some excellent new books to keep readers engaged. They expressed a need to have books from more Irish authors and illustrators and a better collection of titles to cater for the varied interests of their students.

With time in each school day for DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) and involvement in an Accelerated Reading programme, we could see that this school understands the value of reading and the importance of books and we knew that they would benefit immensely from this Bookbag initiative.

The day kicked off with the set up of an eye-catching display of all the brand new books which were gifted to the school's library! Following lots of excited cheers, the students were then welcomed to join in on a Monster Doodle activity which was led by our Emmy-Award winning Episodic Director Mårten Jönmark (Peter Rabbit, Octonauts). The students expertly dived into creating some absolutely monsterrific artwork, under the guidance and support from our team, the CBI gang and their teachers.

We had a fantastic time encouraging the students with their drawings during the epic Monster Doodle session. As usual, we were amazed by the creativity and imagination on display!

The Monster Doodle masterpiece showcased monsters of all shapes and sizes, each with its own name, fantastical super power and quirky backstory.

Following the Monster Doodle session, each student was gifted a Bookbag with bookmarks, an artists sketchpad, reading guides curated by Children's Books Ireland, and a book for them to keep and bring home.

The selected books were a mix, with each class receiving a different, age-appropriate title:

  • 2nd Class received Pablo and Splash by Sheena Dempsey
  • 3rd Class received Dinosaur Pie by Jen Wallace and illustrated by Alan O'Rourke
  • 4th Class received Milly McCarthy and the Sports Day Shambles by Leona Forde and illustrated by Karen Harte
  • 5th and 6th Class received The Shop of Impossible Ice-creams by Shane Hegarty

The bookgifting was then followed by some awesome interactive workshops - Illustrator Karen Harte delivered a drawing workshop using the familiar muse of Milly McCarthy! She showed students how to use their new artists sketchbooks with confidence during the session. Illustrator Alan O'Rourke, read from his début book Dinosaur Pie and delivered a helpful step-by-step class in how to draw the book's main protagonist - Rory the Cork dinosaur! Following this, Alan led the students in creating their own comic strips. The students will also receive visits from authors Alan Nolan and Shane Hegarty to deliver creative writing workshops.

'It was a pleasure to have the very talented team visit our boys and create some very special memories for them. The monster doodle activity and workshops inspired the boys to be creative and believe that they can achieve anything. As the saying goes … “ you have to see it to be it!!”
Thank you so much for a fun educational event that will benefit our push on literacy here in the school.'

—Aoife Wrynne, Principal of Scoil Íosagáin Boys’ Primary School

'The Bookbag workshop event was SO much fun! It was wonderful to chat to the kids about the books they received and hear all about the writers and illustrators they love. Everyone got involved in the drawalongs and activities and they were all so delighted to meet a real life illustrator. I hope I've inspired some of them to continue drawing and keep using their imaginations as much as possible.'

—Karen Harte, Illustrator

Scoil Íosagáin received 263 books in total: 72 for students to keep at home and 191 for their school library. The Children's Books Ireland team selected books across the Free To Be Me, Picture This and Reading Matters reading guides to have books that reflected a wide range of interests and genres for all students.

We had an incredible day and were thrilled to receive such wonderful feedback from everyone involved. We 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 students of Scoil Íosagáin!

We hope their new library collection will inspire them to dive into reading and art, and further develop their already jaw-dropping 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.

Anahita Tabarsi

Anahita is Brown Bag Films' Marketing Director, Digital & Social and drinks more than five coffees a day...

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