“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader – Margaret Fuller”.

 

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Ireland Christmas Book Flood

Iceland is in the top five of Countries in the World for literacy and according to the World Economic Forum. At Christmas time people go to each other’s houses and give their family and friends physical books to read and the kids are allowed a bit of a dispensation on the evening that they can stay up late, having their hot chocolate in front of the fire reading their favourite book. What a lovely idea ?

“This is a fabulous tradition that improves communication amongst friends and family and promoting literacy and could improve our overall nations literacy and all it would mean is an awareness campaign coming up to Christmas time to get the culture and spirit of the campaign going”

Book lovers will want to adopt this lovely holiday tradition, which melds literary and holiday pleasures into a single event. Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. This custom is so deeply ingrained in the culture that it is the reason for the Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood. Perhaps a visit to your local bookshop this Christmas and gifting a book to family and friends might be an alternative to reducing screen time and to go visit family and friends and adopt the Icelandic approach.

First 5 – Government of Ireland Strategy 2019- 2028

 I was honoured to be invited by the Irish Government to attend the launch of the “ First 5 ” early years strategy in recognition of my work in promoting reading among children as a real alternative to Screen Time. The Minister for Children Katherine Zappone TD informed me she has further big plans for 2019 and was a pleasure to meet her and her colleagues Jim Daly TD, Mary Mitchell O Connor TD and An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the launch. I was delighted to see some initiatives like a “Book Bags” which I have suggested in my literacy research proposals being piloted and tested.


Thanks to my friends for their excellent work on our panel discussion in Waterstones Cork. It was great to be part of a successful Irish Book Week.


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Bookworm

This photo was taken at the Winding Stair bookshop, Ormond Quay, Dublin for the launch of Irish Book Week. It was featured as one of the images of the day on www.irishtimes.com

Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Bookselling Ireland and Publishing Ireland have joined forces to give us the inaugural Irish Book Week, a nationwide celebration of Irish books and bookshops, which takes place form October 27th to November 3rd.

Book Week will see events taking place throughout the country, celebrating Irish books and the central role bookshops play in Irish society and culture.  “Ireland has such a rich literary heritage and we are delighted to place that centre stage with Irish Book Week”, said Chair of Bookselling Ireland, John Keane.  “A visit to your local bookshop always brings something different, and we are encouraging people to check in and see what is going on in their local community”.

Ivan O’ Brien, president of Publishing Ireland, proclaimed at the press launch, “Irish people love to read and talk about books, and share them with family and friends.  Irish Book Week reinforces the message that books and bookshops are the best place to find a story that will engross, educate and entertain”. 

I am honoured along with famous author Donal Ryan to be a book ambassador for Irish Book Week 2018. Some fun shots of the launch in Dublin can be seen above and the interview on Classic Hits 4FM can be heard below.

If you would like to get involved please let us know we will have lots of fun things happening so contact your local bookshop to see what events are happening in your area. We would love to see all people from all ages be part of this exciting week. I will be attending events in various locations which I will update you on shortly or you can check out my blog on www.writing.ie for more information. The feedback has been really positive on this.

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 Great to meet Norah Casey and her team at the Woman’s Way children’s awards 2018. What a super event with a lovely Harry Potter theme. I was honoured to receive an outstanding achievement award for my project research into getting kids and teens back reading books. Great to meet so many inspirational kids from all over Ireland that are doing so much great work in various areas of social entrepreneurship. Thanks for the warm welcome and treats! A really fun afternoon.

Great to meet Norah Casey and her team at the Woman’s Way children’s awards 2018. What a super event with a lovely Harry Potter theme. I was honoured to receive an outstanding achievement award for my project research into getting kids and teens back reading books. Great to meet so many inspirational kids from all over Ireland that are doing so much great work in various areas of social entrepreneurship. Thanks for the warm welcome and treats! A really fun afternoon.

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Irish Book Week

Words by Water - Kinsale Literary Festival click on : https://www.kinsale.ie/event/teenage-book-club-discussion/

My friends and I did a really enjoyable discussion and book review as part of this festival.

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Welcome to my website, which accompanies my project
"A Statistical Investigation into the decline of reading among Ireland's Youth and how we can prevent this from impacting future generations"

My passion for reading and my
in built curiosity have led me to explore...

 

• Why are fewer children/adolescents in Ireland not reading for pleasure these days?
• Are societal/environmental/technological factors causing this trend?
• What can be done to improve this/encourage young people to read more?
• What are the ‘life’ benefits to young people in reading more?
• Can we educate children/adolescents about the benefits of reading?

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Ultimately, I want to share my love of reading with the nation! As a result of my research in this area I have come across some very interesting research on Irish literacy which I have shared with government recently which will hopefully assist in future policy.

 

My Research Summary

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  • Many studies are also showing the decline of reading as children reach adolescence.

  • Irish primary schools are continuing to succeed in reading literacy, but not many literacy students are showing an improvement in second level education.

  • There are endless benefits of reading! (I list some below)

  • Many studies have been done around the area of reading literacy, but not many surveys targeting the opinions/views of children/adolescents have been conducted.

  • There have been numerous studies done, but not enough programmes or initiatives introduced based on these studies.

  • I have found so many things that can be improved by reading!

Click below to watch my interview with RTÉ news2day:

 

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About Sarah

Hello,

My Name is Sarah Fitzgerald. This is a picture of me with my little brother Cillian Fitzgerald (age 10, Summercove NS).

I am 14 years old and I’ll be doing my junior cert this year at Kinsale Community School.

I am the founder of this website to share my love of reading with others but more importantly to outline through research and articles the benefits and importance of reading.  My aim for this website is to encourage more reading among Ireland’s youth as I am very passionate about the benefits and life skills that are learned from reading.

The BT Young Scientist was the first step of my project and I will be using this web site to continue my work and I already have a lot of support to help me move forward with my ideas.

I really enjoyed meeting new people, sharing ideas and the entrepreneurial buzz at the event and meeting junior entrepreneurs and fellow bookworms.

I was honoured to be recently appointed as children’s books ambassador for Irish Book Week celebrating all things books and bookshops. It takes place nationwide form October 27 to November 3.

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Trip to Eason of O’Connell Street

What a treat to be invited into the iconic Easons of O Connell Street Dublin where you could spend hours browsing their range of lovely books and their Green Room Wall of Fame which has some incredible signatures on it. What a great idea thanks to John Keane, Chair Booksellers Association Ireland, General Manager, Eason

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The Late Late Toy Show

I have been an avid reader since I was 4 and this passion for reading and writing led me to appear on the Late Late Toy Show 2017. I reviewed Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls which was an inspiring book about famous and inspirational women both today and in history. A super read and I am very happy to hear from people how my review of the book encouraged them to purchase the book for friends and family.
This is my reaction when I was told I was getting a trip to Walker Books in London.
Ryan Tubridy was great fun and also is an avid book reader as well as a great TV presenter.

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Trip to London

Thanks to Walker Books and The RTE Late Late Toy Show, my dreams came true to share my passion for books with leading publishers Walker Books of London.

Here's a picture of me at the Walker Books office.

They are such a lovely creative team to meet and it was so interesting to find out about all their super books they have published. It included a trip to the original Waterstones - what a treat!

I started writing when I was 5 and I wrote a series of kids short story books and sold them at the Christmas Market to raise funds for the Ronald Mc Donald house at Crumlin Hospital. The work done at this house is phenomenal and it gives families with sick children an opportunity to have a somewhat normal time in the house with great food, lots of support, and they can bring the siblings of their sick children to stay at the house also.  I have been told that the kids at the house did enjoy my book which was lovely to hear. I raised €2,500 and would like to continue supporting charity and helping others and making a difference.


16 benefits of reading:


Giving a child the ability to read is a gift for life. All research consistently points to the correlation between (business) success and reading. Most successful CEOs are avid readers, such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. I would expect with the onslaught of social media that reading will become even more important as a skill, due to the neurological effects of both social media (distraction) and reading (ability to focus and think).
— Ron Immink
 
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NEWS

I was delighted to attend the Shawbrook Dance Summer School with some excellent tutors in the world of dance.  I attended with my friends from Lucy French School of Dance.  I was delighted to receive a scholarship to return to Shawbrook Dance in 2019 .  

 Our crew from the Lucy French School of Dance who attended Shawbrook

Our crew from the Lucy French School of Dance who attended Shawbrook

 With my excellent tutors from France who I learned a lot from

With my excellent tutors from France who I learned a lot from

 With the friendly Longford Rose Loren Katie Logan.

With the friendly Longford Rose Loren Katie Logan.


My Trip To The Oireachtas - By Cillian Fitzgerald

So I woke up at 6.00am and got ready, got in the car and headed to the Oireachtas. We stopped in Kildare Village on the way for brekkie.  When we arrived I was so tired because of the 4 hour journey but it was a big day so I decided to put my tiredness to the side and politics hat on.  We headed in to the Oireachtas buildings.  We were greeted by a friendly group of political leaders.

We took a few photos in the buildings in the background and headed in.  We went to a meeting room and my sister displayed her project to the first committee. We met with Senator Denis O Donovan, Jim Power, Margaret Murphy O Mahoney, Senator Gerard Craughwell, Minister Regina Doherty, Minister Jim Daly, Senator Tim Lombard, Darragh Collery and more. They were all very interested in Sarah’s work and research.

My sister displayed her project and we attended the leaders questions which was really interesting.  On our way out we met the one and only Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach.  It was a pleasure to meet him.  Just as I thought it couldn’t get any better, we met Simon Coveney, Tánaiste.  He was such a nice guy.  I hope to meet him again. We had lunch in the Oireachtas . The best day so far ever !

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When I am not reading books I also really enjoy dancing. We are lucky to have the excellent Lucy French school of dance locally and this is a picture of our annual show. Books & Ballet make a great combination.

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Thanks to the Irish Independent and Creative Ireland for showcasing my project in conjunction with the successful Cruinniú Na Nóg, a great initiative by the Dept. of Culture & Heritage in the Gaelteacht.

 

I have recently been asked to do some book reviews and be a guest writer for writing.ie called “Inkstains” which concerns younger writers.  Here is a link to it and writing.ie is an online writing magazine.  I am delighted to be asked to be a guest reviewer and see attached a link to this site.  I do a regular review of good books I enjoy.

 
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I was so delighted to receive this illustration from famous authors Colin and Jacqui Hawkins who wrote the book in my video clip, "Fairytale News”.

Their daughter Sally Hawkins, I really enjoyed in Paddington Bear and only recently Sally's movie The Shape Of Water was announced as Best Picture at the Oscars. Such a lovely creative family. Thanks for their support.


 Fianna Fail Leader Micheál Martin TD exploring the educational research findings on Irish Literacy at the RDS

Fianna Fail Leader Micheál Martin TD exploring the educational research findings on Irish Literacy at the RDS

 Sarah having a laugh with Deirdre McDermott Creative Director Walker Books and her brilliant team in London.

Sarah having a laugh with Deirdre McDermott Creative Director Walker Books and her brilliant team in London.

 Sean Mahon MD of The Southern Star Newspaper kindly invited me as a guest to their media hub and to meet their friendly team in West Cork and learn about the world of media.

Sean Mahon MD of The Southern Star Newspaper kindly invited me as a guest to their media hub and to meet their friendly team in West Cork and learn about the world of media.

 Sarah with popular RTE Presenter Ryan Tubridy also a bookworm on the RTE Late Late set in Dublin.

Sarah with popular RTE Presenter Ryan Tubridy also a bookworm on the RTE Late Late set in Dublin.

 Thanks to Children’s Books Ireland for inviting me to  Trinity College Dublin  with Dr.Susan Cahill & Dr. Norah Patten for Story Spinners and Bold Girls, Irish Women and Children’s Books. What an amazing experience to meet so many great authors like Judi Curtin and learn more about books. They were so friendly to me. Bold Girls initiative celebrates female Irish authors and illustrators who have made an exceptional contribution to the canon of Irish Children’s literature. Great idea..

Thanks to Children’s Books Ireland for inviting me to Trinity College Dublin with Dr.Susan Cahill & Dr. Norah Patten for Story Spinners and Bold Girls, Irish Women and Children’s Books. What an amazing experience to meet so many great authors like Judi Curtin and learn more about books. They were so friendly to me. Bold Girls initiative celebrates female Irish authors and illustrators who have made an exceptional contribution to the canon of Irish Children’s literature. Great idea..

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 Book Ambassador! Sarah enjoying her talk at Clonmel Library promoting book reading. Research has shown that libraries and librarians are so important to kids education and grades and proven to improve the overall grades of a school by having a library and a librarian in one.

Book Ambassador! Sarah enjoying her talk at Clonmel Library promoting book reading. Research has shown that libraries and librarians are so important to kids education and grades and proven to improve the overall grades of a school by having a library and a librarian in one.

 Senator Tim Lombard. Seanad Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment who has also expressed a keen interest in my literacy research.

Senator Tim Lombard. Seanad Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment who has also expressed a keen interest in my literacy research.

 Here is one of my earlier creative books I wrote and sold at the market and donated the proceeds to a very worthy cause to help other kids.

Here is one of my earlier creative books I wrote and sold at the market and donated the proceeds to a very worthy cause to help other kids.

 Sarah sharing her ongoing research on Irish Literacy and benefits of reading books with Minister Jim Daly TD at Blue Haven Kinsale. Jim Daly TD is Minister for Mental Health and Older People.

Sarah sharing her ongoing research on Irish Literacy and benefits of reading books with Minister Jim Daly TD at Blue Haven Kinsale. Jim Daly TD is Minister for Mental Health and Older People.

 Thanks for the Irish Examiner interview with Helen Kelleher for their kind article summarising my work.

Thanks for the Irish Examiner interview with Helen Kelleher for their kind article summarising my work.

 Dr. Sharon Lawton B.Sc Ph.D of Cork Institute of Technology with award winner Sarah Fitzgerald and BTYSTE 2018 winner Simon Meehan at the Sci Fest 2018 Award. Well done to Simon on his amazing work.

Dr. Sharon Lawton B.Sc Ph.D of Cork Institute of Technology with award winner Sarah Fitzgerald and BTYSTE 2018 winner Simon Meehan at the Sci Fest 2018 Award. Well done to Simon on his amazing work.

 Sheila Porter Founder and CEO Sci Fest presenting the Maths in Science Award 2018 to Sarah at CIT Cork. I used science and maths to highlight an area in arts and literacy which showed a statistical decline in teens reading books.

Sheila Porter Founder and CEO Sci Fest presenting the Maths in Science Award 2018 to Sarah at CIT Cork. I used science and maths to highlight an area in arts and literacy which showed a statistical decline in teens reading books.

 Thank you to Primary Times who published an article about my recent trip to Leinster House. Click the image to visit their website!

Thank you to Primary Times who published an article about my recent trip to Leinster House. Click the image to visit their website!

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 I presented to government a submission to An Tanaiste Simon Coveney TD and Senator Tim Lombard around my literacy research promoting children to read books. One of ten key recommendations includes an Irish book trust scheme where every child aged 6 months in Ireland gets a box of books. Also a new innovative programme called Book Cloud recycling old books and also technology free zones in schools. I met with various Government Ministers who were very interested in my research and I am continuing to work with them in this area  “ Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela

I presented to government a submission to An Tanaiste Simon Coveney TD and Senator Tim Lombard around my literacy research promoting children to read books. One of ten key recommendations includes an Irish book trust scheme where every child aged 6 months in Ireland gets a box of books. Also a new innovative programme called Book Cloud recycling old books and also technology free zones in schools. I met with various Government Ministers who were very interested in my research and I am continuing to work with them in this area

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela

A summary of some of my ideas and proposals for our policy makers which could make a difference from my research include :


The first is an Irish literacy scheme, similar to Book Trust which is operating in the UK. I was fascinated to find out that every child in the UK, aged 6 months gets a box of books delivered to them, free of charge, which promotes literacy, it helps kids from all ages, religions and backgrounds who may not be able to afford books, the opportunity to read some books and by reading books, they are better prepared for going to school and they have already started their educational journey. Perhaps just like in the food industry, there is a food cloud programme, a Book Cloud programme could be used to recycle books where kids donate books in to a books programme.

As part of my research, it transpired that having a Library and a Librarian in a school improved the results of the whole school in all their subjects and all grades and perhaps this is something that could be rolled out in to every school in Ireland promoting kids to visit Libraries, to chat to Librarians about books which is good for communication and encouraging kids to read physical books which research has proven, according to science, it’s a habit that is beneficial on several levels. It increases your vocabulary; reading literary fiction improves your ability to understand the mental state of others. Reading can lower your stress level, reading can make you self-confident, reading changes the circuitry of the brain and reading is a habit practiced by successful people. It also helps for positive mental health.Looking at a small blue screen for hours cannot be a good thing and could not compare to the joy of reading a book.

Iceland is in the top 5 of Countries in the World for literacy and according to the World Economic Forum data, they have a lovely tradition. At Christmas time people go to each other’s houses and give their family and friends physical books to read and the kids are allowed a bit of a dispensation on the evening that they can stay up late, having their hot chocolate in front of the fire reading their favourite book. What a lovely idea. This is a fabulous tradition that improves communication amongst friends and family and promoting literacy and could improve our overall nations literacy and all it would mean is an awareness campaign coming up to Christmas time so it is good to support and visit your local bookshop and enjoy the sense of calm.

I have been asked to be a book ambassador going to Libraries and Schools and I’m sure there are plenty of other bookworms like me that would like to talk to kids about the benefits of reading books, the enjoyment that it brings and for example I have just read the recent Harry Potter series. What a fascinating series of books and a book ambassador programme like that, I think, would encourage kids in schools to go back reading books again, just like in the music world, people have gone back to vinyl. I am now the appointed ambassador for Irish Book Week alongside the talented Donal Ryan, winner of the Guardian First Book Award. 

According to a letter I recently got from J.K Rowling she has been busy over the past year between the film of Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them for which she has written the script. The second in the series is due out later this year. The play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on which she has collaborated is now showing at the Palace Theatre in London and opening in Broadway in New York and other countries soon. She is truly amazing and is hoping to write another children’s book one day. I cannot wait to hear more like most Harry Potter fans I am sure.

I think technology is good and important. STEM is important, it helps us to improve processes but an over reliance on smart phones and social media is a distractor for concentration levels, communication levels and can lead to on-line bullying and people are missing valuable moments in their life .Of course they are needed for emergencies, to ring your mum or dad but there is definitely an over-reliance and my research data has proven this. Per my research data 35% of those surveyed prefer to watch TV or use their phones other than read a book. 43% of people didn’t join a Library because it took too much time. 54% of those surveyed were not members of Libraries and 45% of those surveyed who enjoyed reading, read daily. Those are just some of the key findings from my research. So more education perhaps is needed on staying safe online and the dangers of devices to us. 

Could our rural Book Shops be revived, could our Libraries be revived to get people back using these? They could become social hubs for book readings on a Saturday morning, where bookworms can chat about their books. It could become an important part of our society. The likes of Book Clubs could be great for both young and older people to chat and communicate and help in isolation and loneliness, particularly in some rural communities.

A weekly reading class in school would certainly, if included on the curriculum, would also help, just one class per week could make the difference. I have been kindly invited to book festivals, book launches and to appear on national media on this topic and I enjoy talking about books and would hope that as a result of my research, it may lead to some initiatives that Government could introduce in to the education system. Providing young people with opportunities to stay engaged, to participate in arts & sports activities and to have safe spaces after School to hang out.

Perhaps another suggestion might be for Schools all over Ireland that have some spare cell free outdoor space .A technology free zone. Literacy and Science can both work side by side and are all important to one’s overall development but there is clearly an over-reliance of people using devices, too many blue ray lights omitted from these devices which further researches have shown in a recent survey that families over the next five years will have on average six devices per household forecasted which means that we are going to further live more in an on-line Ireland. 73% of people around the world however believe that technology will never replace the human mind. 

People have commented to me, who visited my stand at the exhibitions, how they love getting off a flight and walking in to a Book Shop and are automatically relaxed at the smell of a book and just picking it up and flicking through the pages, they find automatically relaxing. My awareness campaign is very simple, is to get my peers to get back and enjoy the old fashioned and simple things in life, like reading a book. Reading a book helps ones imagination and creative cognitive processes. This has many benefits in problem solving later in life, thinking outside the box and leading to innovation. Teens who spend more time doing sports, homework, reading books, board games, socialising with friends in real life may be happier.


 

 

My trip to Leinster House:

Mark the Science Guy

Check out this clip for some educational fun :

Supporting Local Bookshops

Leading economist Jim Power was recently commissioned to do a report for the for the Book Sellers Association on the importance of books and book shops to our economy and society and I was delighted to meet with him to discuss this area and to learn of some of the key areas in the report.

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- Jim Power

Leading Economist


Get in touch! 

If you would like to share your feedback, get in touch or share your ideas with me, I would love to hear from you. Please use the contact form (right) to send me a message.

My Mum gets these mails and will bring to my attention as I could be reading or practicing my dancing or doing my homework... If not I could be playing soccer against my little brother in the garden! 

I hope you enjoy my website and video clip. I have already received some lovely messages from all over the world from fellow bookworms. Thank you to everyone who has supported my project

Today a reader...tomorrow a leader.

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