Deliver the joy of reading with an Irish children’s book this Christmas

A Children’s Books Ireland festive reading guide, introduced by CEO Elaina Ryan

 

For me, Christmas has always been about stories. The magic of Dickens, the troublesome Grinch – crawling to the sofa after dinner with a mince pie and a new book is a sacred tradition in our house.

Once again the story of this Christmas is, if not unprecedented, at least a little uncertain. One thing we do know is that putting a great book under the tree is the perfect way to spread some positivity, creating a wave of support from Irish booksellers to publishers, authors and illustrators, and bringing an exciting new story to a young reader who will treasure it for years to come.

Our new reading guide, Deliver the Joy of Reading, encourages you to do just that. Deliver the Joy of Reading is packed with over 140 new reviews to help you find the perfect children’s book, with a megaphone symbol guiding you to our 40 “new voices” – emerging and established authors and illustrators who made their children’s debut in 2021. You can browse through just a few of these below, or bring us with you when you’re present-buying by downloading the guide for free at childrensbooksireland.ie.

Happy shopping from all of us at Children’s Books Ireland, and a very merry Christmas.

Elaina Ryan
CEO, Children’s Books Ireland

Big Dance by Aoife Greenham
Child’s Play, £6.99
Pippa is wowed and worried in equal measure as she learns of the special moves her family and friends are preparing for the Big Dance. What if she doesn’t have any of her own? Before she knows it, Pippa is having a sulk, and it will take everyone’s understanding, patience and love to make her see that the dance can only be ‘big’ if she takes part in it. This charming debut’s reflections on the individual and the collective is complemented by a riot of colours and shapes. (Age 2-4)

Evie’s Christmas Wishes by Siobhán Parkinson, illustrated by Sharon Bergin
Little Island Books, €16.99
Born on Christmas Eve, Evie has a special relationship with Christmas, and like most children her age, she has wishes – many wishes! School plays, pantomimes, baking, decorating, carol singers – this small book captures the magnificence of the festive season perfectly. The illustrations by debut artist Sharon Bergin are fantastic – the magic of snow, twinkly lights, surprises, visitors and maybe, just maybe, wishes coming true is irresistible. (Age 4-6)

A Field Guide to Leaflings: Guardians of the Trees by Owen Churcher, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey
Templar Books, £12.99
This interactive picturebook by the well-known Niamh Sharkey and newcomer Owen Churcher contains a wealth of tree knowledge. Our guides, the leaflings, invite us into their world where we learn about the familiar oak and holly, and the perhaps lesser-known and fascinating kapok or Huangshan pine. The illustrations, flaps to lift and text will keep busy readers entertained over many rereadings. This is a celebration of the majesty and beauty of trees and all who love and protect them. (Age 4-8)

Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Irish Words for Nature by Manchán Magan, illustrated by Steve Doogan
Gill Books, €17.99
The only hint of colour in this book comes on the cover, which might seem odd for a nature book, but nothing could be further from the truth. The black-on-white linocuts alongside the bronze graphic-design elements and rich, visually descriptive text carry such vibrancy that the result is stunning in its dynamism. A glossary with helpful phonetic pronunciations brings this absolute gem of a book to a fitting end. A love letter to our national language. (Nonfiction, Age 5-7, 8-12)

Ceol na Sióg by Gráinne Holland maisithe ag Mr Ando
An tSnáthaid Mhór, £20
Nuair a bhíonn focail, íomhánna agus ceol ag obair as lámha a chéile, bíonn draíocht ann. Sa leabhar seo, a bhfuil dlúthdhiosca ag gabháil leis, tá dhá amhrán déag le Gráinne Holland. Tá léaráidí le Mr Ando (Andrew Whitson) ag gabháil le gach amhrán agus tá siad á gcanadh go binn ag Seán Óg Graham ar an dlúthdhiosca, le tionlacan ó Niamh Dunne agus Brian Finnegan. Éiríonn go han-mhaith leis an gcomhshaothar seo, nó léirítear mistéir agus draíocht tharraingteach an dúlra leis an gceol agus an leabhar, agus déantar iad a cheiliúradh. (Aois 6-10)

The Little Squirrel Who Worried by Katie O’Donoghue
Gill Books, €12.99
This book has all the feel of a classic, with full-colour vignettes scattered throughout its chapters. Grounded in both the art and science of psychotherapy, the story of Little Squirrel, who worries about venturing outside to stock up for winter, serves as a timely and recognisable story to young and old. We have all lived through extraordinary times, and this book gently teaches coping techniques, the value of friendship and asking for help and the importance of knowing we are not alone. It would also work as a read-aloud for younger audiences. (Age 7-9)

Rescuing Titanic: A true story of quiet bravery in the North Atlantic by Flora Delargy
Wide Eyed Editions, £14.99
In this remarkable debut, writer-illustrator Delargy tells the story of a group of ordinary people who became heroes in a time of crisis, celebrating the best of humanity while sensitively acknowledging the heartbreak and suffering of that fateful night. The action jumps between the impossibly large and luxurious Titanic and the modest, unremarkable Carpathia. The text flows seamlessly; the illustrations, a mix of bold two-page spreads and small, highly detailed panels, are breath-taking. Sweeping scenes of panicked crowds and small quiet moments are captured with equal skill. (Non-fiction, Age 8+)

Breaking News: How to Tell What’s Real from What’s Rubbish by Nick Sheridan, illustrated by David O’Connell
Simon & Schuster, £9.99
In this informative and hilarious children’s debut, journalist Nick Sheridan gives readers a whistle-stop tour of the world of news, both real and fake. A brief history of the papers takes us from the Romans to the present day, while tips and practice-runs train budding ‘newshounds’ to ‘sniff out the true from the poo’. Breaking News empowers readers to cut through the noise, including advice for the times when it all gets too loud. A must-read for all young news consumers. (Non-fiction, Age 9-11)

The Great Irish Politics Book by David McCullough, illustrated by Graham Corcoran
Gill Books, €22.99
In the introduction, politics is explained as both the big decisions made by government and the ‘small’ decisions we make every day. All decisions have a cause and effect. The historical context of Ireland’s journey to a republic and a democracy takes us from clans, via the monarchy, to today’s political system, which is explained in detail. Taxes, elections, the constitution, referendums, rights and issues, media and Ireland’s place on the global stage are all covered. This book does a brilliant job of breaking down politics for younger readers. (Nonfiction, Age 9-15)

What Love Looks Like by Jarlath Gregory
The O’Brien Press, €9.99
Meet Ben, 17, gay and looking for love. Refreshingly honest, yet sometimes naïve, Ben has everything mapped out – teacher training awaits, family life is good. His best friends, Chelsea and Soda, bring advice and life tips on the joys and perils of love with their own compelling stories in contemporary Dublin’s LGBTQ+ community. Navigating bullying, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment and the North/South view of ‘coming out’ in Ireland, Gregory gives a realistic and optimistic picture of life for Irish teenagers exploring their sexuality. (Age Young Adult)
Deliver the Joy of Reading is available for free from 39 bookshops across the island of Ireland and will be distributed through Libraries NI. The guide can also be downloaded at childrensbooksireland.ie. #DeliverTheJoy

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