The Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Citywide Read is a yearly initiative that encourages children to read for pleasure. One title is chosen each year, and my debut The Book of Learning (Mercier Press) is the choice for 2016. The Citywide Read is run by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Council’s Libraries Service, in partnership with Mercier Press and this year it runs from January to March 2016. You can read more details about the events and campaign here: www.dublincityofliterature.ie
How the Citywide Read Campaign Works
The Citywide Reading campaign is all about reaching as many children as possible to encourage the enjoyment of reading. There are around 30 events across Dublin in the first three months of 2016; a mixture of school events in libraries and open events in Hodges Figgis bookshop (January), the National Library of Ireland (February 13th), Cabra Library (March 8th) and the Big Day Out (March 20th). The Dublin City Council Libraries stock plenty of books, so they’re available for children to borrow. Focusing on one book is a great way to open a dialogue and get children talking about books.
Who is it for?
Children! The next generation of philosophers, nurses, artists, scientists, teachers, engineers, surfers, musicians, farmers, firefighters – and hopefully writers! I make sure that the events are fun and interactive; we talk books and reading, what books and authors we love and why, and what reading means to us. We reveal a few secrets, explore ideas, share our passions and laugh plenty. There are quizzes, illustration demonstrations, and games thrown into the mix – it’s all about fun and looking at books and reading from a fresh perspective.
Books have always been my sanctuary and the gift of reading has affected my life in such a positive way, the chance to be part of an initiative that encourages reading for pleasure is an absolute honour. I often refer to books as magical doorways; when you open a cover, you don’t know who you’re going to meet, where you’re going to go, how you’ll feel or what you’ll discover about yourself or others. Every book offers a unique and personal journey for every reader – but not every child comes from a home that would value or encourage reading. I certainly didn’t, but I was lucky enough to have an inspirational primary school teacher that introduced the magical world to me. If I can help to pass on this love of reading, this chance to grow and learn, this access to infinite knowledge and adventure, then that means the world to me.
Tips to Encourage Children to Read
Whether you’re a parent, a carer, or a teacher, or even if you’re around young relatives on a regular basis, encouraging children to read is vitally important. Here are a few tips on how to encourage a child to read:
Allow children to choose books that they want to read. The books that grab their interest will make reading a pleasure, not a chore. There may be a discrepancy between what you think they should read and what they actually want to read, but stepping in and curtailing choices could actually put a child off reading for life.
Be a good role model: when was the last time your child saw you read? If a child sees you reading for pleasure as part of everyday life, it establishes a positive attitude towards reading and also gives reading visible value.
Make libraries and bookshops a habit: visit these wonderful resources to get fresh ideas on what to read and to show how much you value their existence. As well as helping children to learn how bookshops and libraries work, making visits part of your routine encourages reading as a regular part of everyday life.
Connect with authors: there are lots of literary festivals and events across Ireland that make it possible for young readers to meet their favourite authors and learn more about their books, reading and writing, and what it’s like to be an author. Some of my favourites include Mountains to Sea, Listowel Writers Week, and the library-based Children’s Book Festival in October. And I’d love to see you at one of the Citywide Read events – come and say hi!
How you can join in?
The library events are booked directly with schools, but there are also the following open events for you to enjoy:
Friday 12th February 10am Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre, Grand Canal Quay Free event with the author of The Book of Learning E.R. Murray. Schools interested in booking a class into this event should contact Ifty Finn at email@example.com
Saturday 13th February 2016 2pm. National Library of Ireland. Kildare St. Free admission. Booking Essential.
Book of Learning Mystery Trail
Join The Book of Learning author E. R. Murray for an hour of mystery and adventure, which will include readings from the book and illustration workshop, followed by a book trail around the National Library, one of the key settings in this magical book. Suitable for children 8-12 years. Booking essential at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 19 February 2-4pm. The City Gallery – Hugh Lane. Parnell Square.
Illustration workshop, inspired by The Book of Learning, with children’s author and illustrator Oisín McGann. This workshop will bring to life passages in the book set in Dublin and will introduce the relationship between text and image in illustration. Suitable for children 10+ Cost €5 Booking essential at 01-2225564. More details at www.hughlane.ie (select kids club)
Tuesday 8th March 2016. 3.30pm. Cabra Library, Navan Road. Dublin 7. Free admission. Booking advisable.
Did you ever wonder what’s involved in writing a novel? E.R. Murray, author of The Book of Learning will read from her book, discuss where ideas and characters come from followed by a Q+A session. Suitable for children 8+ Booking advisable at 8691414
Sunday 20th March. 11am-5pm St. Patrick’s Festival’s The Big Day Out. Merrion Square. Free admission.
Don’t miss our special event in the RSAI building in Merrion Square, which will bring the characters and story of The Book of Learning to life. Featuring magicians, creative writing workshops, live pet rats, author readings and lots more fun, this special adventure will be something to remember. Suitable for ages 6+ More details will be available nearer the time. www.stpatricksfestival.ie
(c) ER Murray