Discover Irish Kids Books

Discover Irish Kids Books

AuthorLittle Island Time

Irish children's author Leona Forde contributes a guest post to the Little Island blog about the exciting Discover Irish Children's Books campaign, which has been doing a lot to raise the profile of books by Irish authors and illustrators in recent months.


Discover Irish Kids Books is an exciting new campaign launched in September 2023 to highlight, promote and celebrate Irish children’s books. Ireland is famous for its love of the written word, for its world-class literature and for its talented authors and illustrators. Currently there are around 350 published Irish children’s writers and illustrators living and working in Ireland.


The issue

Although Irish writers and illustrators regularly enjoy huge international success, the same cannot be said on a national level. Sarah Webb, herself celebrated as a children’s author and bookseller and well known as a champion of Irish children’s books, noticed that the Irish children’s top ten bestseller list rarely featured any Irish books: in a twenty-week period between March and August 2023, only ten books by Irish children’s authors or illustrators appeared in the top ten listing. Hardly surprising, then, that when asked to name an Irish author or illustrator, many children were unable to do so, instead naming brand authors who are mainly based in Britain or America. In addition, very few children’s writers and illustrators based in Ireland were appearing at Irish book and arts festivals or in the Irish media. Something was clearly wrong!


The solution

To combat these problems, Discover Irish Kids Books was formed. The team is made up of a fantastic bunch of children’s writers, illustrators, booksellers, librarians and teachers, all based in Ireland and all passionate about children’s books. Their aim is to bring Irish children’s books to the attention of young readers and their adults. This is being done via a number of initiatives.


The organisation’s website ( is packed full of resources for librarians, teachers, booksellers, festival programmers, as well as parents, grandparents and book-lovers, including:

  • An extremely useful recommended list of class novels by Irish writers and illustrators
  • Independent weekly Irish bookshops top ten list as an alternative to the Irish Times/Nielsen Book Scan bestseller lists
  • Monthly posters highlighting new Irish children’s book releases
  • ‘If you loved that, you’ll love this’ posters listing Irish alternatives to popular books from elsewhere, which can be downloaded and printed for display in libraries and classrooms


A sticker designed by the award-winning Irish children’s author/illustrator Chris Haughton is available to bookshops, libraries and schools to put on their Irish children’s books, to help young readers and their families to identify Irish books more easily.


A TikTok campaign was started to celebrate Irish YA authors and an ongoing social media campaign, #DiscoverIrishKidsBooks, is also helping to highlight the wide range of extraordinary Irish children’s books available in both English and Irish for all age groups. 


The future is looking bright

While still in its early stages, the campaign is undoubtedly having a positive impact. Thanks to dedicated booksellers, Irish children’s books are enjoying far greater promotion in bookstores in each county, and Discover Irish kids Books posters are now on display in libraries and classrooms all over the country. Media coverage of Irish children’s books has increased. For example, The Irish Times covered the launch of the campaign and ran features such as ‘Twelve stocking filler children’s books by Irish authors’.  RTE Radio One highlighted the campaign when Sarah Webb joined Oliver Callan on air recently to share her vast knowledge of the brilliant Irish children’s books that are on offer here.


This year saw Irish children’s books shortlisted for prestigious awards, such as the Yoto Carnegie Medals and the Nibbies, and in the month of March we celebrated an end to the drought with the brilliant Irish children’s author Alan Nolan, of the Molly Malone and Bram Stroker series, topping the bestseller list when his book The Curious Case of the Irish Yeti charted at Number 1.


The campaign has achieved a lot, but there is still more to do. Patricia Forde, Laureate na nÓg, reminds us that ‘Ireland now has a wonderful canon of literature for children in both English and Irish. We owe it to our young people to promote that work and to make sure that they are aware of books that are written and illustrated here.’


If you would like to help children discover Irish children’s books, you can spread the word and bring the focus home. Follow #DiscoverIrishKidsBooks and visit the website at for an array of  tips on how you can get involved.

 by Leona Forde

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