Pupils unveil handmade books at Trinity to mark International Children’s Book Day

 Chloe Cromwell and Lee Grace at the opening of the Trinity College Dublin exhibition. Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

Chloe Cromwell and Lee Grace at the opening of the Trinity College Dublin exhibition. Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix


An exhibition of 70 handmade books designed and illustrated by Dublin children and inspired by works from the Trinity College Library opened today, Wednesday, April 2nd, in the Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin.

The exhibition opening, which coincides with International Children’s Book Day and the birthday of Hans Christian Anderson, marks the culmination of a three-month project called Bookmarks, a story writing, illustration and bookbinding programme that featured workshops with authors and artists. The programme, which is organised by Trinity Access Programmes, aims to inspire children to become the next generation of authors, illustrators and publishers.

This year the Bookmarks programme involved 70 5th and 6th class children from City Quay National School, Dublin 2, St Enda’s Primary School, Whitefriar St, Dublin 8, and Marist National School, Crumlin. The schools are all linked to Trinity through TAP, which offers support to students from under-represented backgrounds to progress to further education.

Over the course of the programme the children attended a series of workshops on story writing and illustration by children’s author Maura Byrne and illustrator Hannah Maguire. All 70 children wrote, illustrated and bound their own unique book focusing on the theme of “all creatures great and small”. A selection will become part to Trinity’s permanent collection.

Other workshops, delivered by staff and students from Trinity’s School of English and the Department of Early Printed Books, helped children to develop their story-lines and to appreciate vintage books. Also as part of the initiative, children were introduced to the Pollard collection of more than 10,000 historic children’s books, bequeathed to Trinity by librarian Mary Paul Pollard. They also had access to a blog written by PhD student, poet and children’s author Catherine Ann Cullen (tarryathome.wordpress.com), which gave them background history about selected books and authors in the Pollard collection, information about its eccentric collector, and photographs of the children’s own work in progress.

Each child was presented with a certificate of achievement by noted author and illustrator Oisín McGann at an awards ceremony to mark the opening of the exhibition, which will be on public display in Trinity’s Long Room from April 3rd to April 22nd.

Speaking at the launch Kathleen O’Toole-Brennan of Trinity Access Programmes said: “TAP is very proud of the Bookmarks initiative and the unique opportunity it provides for children to acquire new skills and to be exposed to the world of children’s literature in a very hands-on way. This year the quality of books produced by the children focusing on the theme of ‘all creatures great and small’ is excellent and we are especially delighted to be unveiling these beautiful works of art and literature today on International Children’s Book Day. Our outreach programmes attract over 4,000 students annually, and with continued involvement, these same students and their peers will successfully make the transition to both second and third level.”

McGann added: “The Bookmarks initiative, as part of the Trinity Access Programmes, is an excellent example of enabling children to produce their own creative work and helps break down the perceived barriers that can prevent children from going on to produce such work throughout their lives. Once you truly believe in your ability to create, you will hold onto that belief for the rest of your life.”