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The Best Irish Children’s Books

Though nothing about the last few months has felt normal, there’s one thing that can’t be taken away – the joy of reading. It’s a wonderful thing to instil in young people, so why not introduce your kids to some fantastic Irish authors? Following the An Post Irish Book Awards in November 2020, we’ve put together an overview of the two ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ shortlists. The Junior category is perfect for tiny tots right up to the age of 8, while Senior books are aimed at the 8 – 12 age group.  

The Junior Shortlist

It’s never too early to introduce your little one to reading, and the six gorgeous books in the Junior category are perfect for story-time. Familiarise your child with animals (past and present) in category winner Darragh McCullough’s The Great Irish Farm Book, and The Dead Zoo by Peter Donnelly, both full of furry friends. Visual artist Oliver Jeffers explores the boundless love a parent feels for their child in What We’ll Build, while fans of the iconic Guess How Much I Love You will enjoy the follow-up from the late Sam McBratney. Join Little Hare as he makes friends with Tipps, in Will You Be My Friend? In The Haunted Lake meanwhile, Jacob is lured underwater by the ghosts of a flooded village. Will he remember the girl he fell in love with on dry land, or stay there forever? Finally, a book for the times we’re in! While We Can’t Hug is a beautiful reminder that we can still show love and affection while staying socially distant. Kids will learn to blow kisses, dance and write letters to those they can’t visit. 

The Senior Shortlist

There’s plenty to entertain and inspire older children too. Category winner Break the Mould by activist Sinéad Burke urges us to embrace our differences – they’re what make us unique, after all. The Boldness of Betty is perfect for budding young fans of Irish history. Set during the social unrest of 1913, it tells the story of Betty Rafferty, a young woman swept up in the Lockout. Sports fans will love The Story of Croke Park by iconic GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, while Girls Play Too showcases the incredible sporting achievements of Irish women like Sonia O’Sullivan and Katie Taylor. Comedian (and space enthusiast) Dara Ó Briain’s Is There Anybody Out There? is jam-packed full of fun facts about the solar system, while Catherine Doyle’s Miracle on Ebenezer St sees little George’s life transformed, when he visits Christmas past, present and future. 

Looking for more children's book recommendations? Visit our ReadersWanted hub! As always, let us know what you’re reading on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #ReadersWanted. 

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