A joint initiative to get young children to join their local libraries was launched last Friday in Blessington Library by Wicklow and Kildare County Library Services.
The idea behind the “My First Library Card” project is to encourage parents of all newborns and children aged 0-5 to join the library.
“My First library Card is free, all children can borrow up to 12 books at a time and libraries no longer charge fines. The initiative sees the launch of an attractive and colourful library card, designed by award-winning author and illustrator Chris Judge.
“My First Library Card” came about as a direct result of the national library programme “Right To Read”campaign which is all about embedding the development of literacy into our communities through the local authority.
Libraries, as local champions of literacy support, have taken a leading role in the delivery of the “Right To Read” campaign across the country, because they have the experience and resources and are a trusted local community service and well placed to promote reading to all ages.
Wicklow County Council Library service is delighted to be working alongside Kildare County Council Library Service on this project. Both library services have collaborated on projects in the past, most recently the “Shelf Help” programme.
That project purchased and promoted a special collection of books on mental well-being and social issues. The collection was selected in conjunction with experienced professionals working in primary care within counties Wicklow and Kildare.
Public Health Nurses across Wicklow and Kildare will be distributing brochures to the parents of newborns at their first meeting and they will also be encouraging parents of all children up to the age of five years to get a library card for their child.
“The ultimate aim of this project is to have all children reading ready by the time they start in primary school,” explained Cllr Irene Winters, Cathaoirleach, Wicklow County Council, adding: “Reading to a child is a powerful way to help children grow their vocabulary, language skills and imagination. It will help them develop life-long skills that will support their future learning and literacy.”
She said research shows that a child that is read to every day will have heard up to 30,000 more words than a child who is not read to. “The child who is not read to is at a considerable disadvantage when he or she is in the same class as a child who has been read to regularly from birth,” Cllr Winters said.
Cllr Winters said it was appropriate that the launch should be held in Blessington library as it has been the heartbeat of the community since it opened in 2006. There are 3,000-plus members while last year set a new record with 73,000-plus items borrowed from Blessington library.
The libraries of Wicklow and Kildare host a wide range of activities to promote reading awareness, throughout the year.