Announcing the Irish Children’s Book Challenge!
by Ruth Ennis
One of the first things that was said to me when I became involved in the Irish children’s books world was to join social media and connect with fellow enthusiasts—authors, illustrators, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, librarians, and many more.
It was great advice, and helped me meet people who taught me so much about books for young readers. One of my favourite ways to discover new books and meet like-minded people was through social media book challenges. These challenges vary in design, but ultimately work towards the goal of highlighting quality books of a specific theme and supporting those who create them.
I am so delighted to announce The Irish Children’s Book Challenge, in association with the Discover Irish Children’s Books campaign. Every day for the month of October there will be a prompt to share and recommend a book on social media. The rules of the challenge are:
All books must be suitable for readers age 0-18 years
All books must be made by an Irish or Ireland-based author or illustrator
Anyone can join the challenge! It is open to anyone who has a love of Irish children’s and young adult literature and wants to help celebrate the diverse range of excellent books we have here. The prompts range from “share a graphic novel” to “share a book about time” to “share a book you wish you read as a child.”
Discover Irish Children’s Books Campaign
This challenge is made as part of the Discover Irish Children’s Books campaign. Launched in August 2023, the aim of the campaign is to highlight and celebrate Irish children’s books. Founder of the campaign and champion of Irish children’s books, Sarah Webb has increasingly realised that the Irish children’s top-ten bestseller list rarely features any Irish books.
In creating the Discover Irish Children’s Books campaign, Sarah and a team of children’s books experts hope to fix this situation by bringing Irish children’s books and their authors and illustrators to the attention of young readers and their grown-ups.
When asked about the success of the campaign since its launch, Sarah Webb said that everyone was delighted with the response to the Discover Irish Children’s Books campaign so far.
“It’s got people thinking about Irish children’s books and about how we all need to work together to support and highlight them. The local press has been really supportive and we’ve also had some national press, with pieces in The Irish Independent and The Irish Times. We are looking forward to the Reading Challenge in October, a young adult books social media takeover in November, and the Discover Irish Children’s Books for Christmas push in December.”
Social Media Challenges
There have been a few social media book challenges in recent years that have acted as inspiration to this challenge. Sarah Webb’s own Book Elves recommend books in the lead up to the annual Late Late Toy Show and ahead of the winter holidays, to encourage people to buy a book as a gift for the young person in their life.
Dubray bookseller Karina Clifford hosts the Read Irish Women Challenge every year in April to highlight books by Irish women. Ross Rogers hosts the LBGTQ Month challenge each year as part of Pride Month in June, which is also interwoven by interviews with authors (both Irish and internationally). Online book challenges are a fun and accessible way to support the work of storytellers by introducing them to a wider audience.
If you would like to take part in the Irish Children’s Books Challenge this October, here are some tips to help you get started.
Plan in advance. I always find it is helpful to know what books I’m going to share, so I write a list of books to answer each prompt ahead of time. This helps to avoid crossover or running out of books. This is by no means a requirement, just a suggestion!
You don’t need to have read every book on the list – if you know about a book that fits the prompt then feel free to share it!
Not sure about what books to include? Children’s Books Ireland have a fantastic range of reviews of books by Irish authors and illustrators. You can check out these reviews on the Children’s Books Ireland website here.
Talk with your local librarians and booksellers, they will have suggestions for books that will fit the criteria. It is also a great opportunity to take some of these lovely books home with you!
If you have read the book, share what you liked about it! You can also tag the author, illustrator, and publisher in the post; it’s always nice to hear kind words about what they created.
If you are a bookseller or librarian, you could make a display of books that fit the prompt each day. Be sure to share photos, we love to see them!
I look forward to seeing the celebration and discovery of Irish children’s and young adult books through this online challenge. Good luck!