Children’s Books Ireland
October 31, 2018
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Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
CBI is the national children’s books organisation of Ireland. Through our many activities and events we aim to engage young people with books, foster a greater understanding of the importance of books for young people and act as a core resource for those with an interest in books for children. We are conscious of accessing every child and young person. The ESRI 'Growing up in Ireland' study highlights significant socio-economic and gender difference in the access and types of cultural activities engaged in by children and young people. Those from advantaged families are more likely to engage in reading. Our goal is to access children from all socio-economic backgrounds and gender. The provision of books and encouragement of reading aloud ensures universal access to literature and story. Children and young people make up one third of Irelands current population, Ireland is unique in Western Europe to have such a large youth population, it’s a wonderful asset for our society, but to maximise the social and economic benefits we must support young people and invest in the services they require. In 2016 we had the opportunity to remember and celebrate the Irish men who helped shape our country's history. In 2018 we had a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Irish women: women in fiction through strong, intelligent, powerful protagonists in children’s books and real female artists who have made an exceptional contribution to the canon of Irish children’s literature. Our BOLD GIRLS initiative was a response to that. It was a multifaceted celebration of brave, intelligent, strong women and girls in children’s books, giving them much-needed visibility alongside their male counterparts. As an organisation we provide support to adults who have an interest in providing meaningful engagement with children’s books as teacher, librarian, parent or guardian in order to benefit from the multiplier effect that each adult can have. Research has shown the reading creates empathy and serves children later in life as the basis for all future skills. Our core aim is to encourage and promote reading for pleasure for children across Ireland.
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
BOLDGIRLS – Gender parity
The role, perception, treatment and expectations of women and young girls are front and centre of daily media discussions. This project was designed to encourage young girls and young women to see themselves in the pages of fiction and non-fiction books, and to encourage them to go out into the world as brave, strong, bold, self-possessed young women. We also want to encourage young boys and men to see all the women and girls in their lives in this way, and to support them. The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. https://childrensbooksireland.ie/boldgirls/
Book Gifting – Providing universal access, helping overcome socio-economic disadvantage
The ESRI 'Growing up in Ireland' study highlights significant socio-economic and gender difference in the access and types of cultural activities engaged in by children and young people. Those from more advantaged families are more likely to engage in reading. Our goal is to access children from all socio-economic backgrounds and gender. The provision of books and encouragement of reading aloud ensures universal access to literature and story. CBI runs several book gifting schemes, Book Bag (Dublin based, in partnership with Brown Bag films), Bookseed (Limerick based, in partnership with the JP McManus Trust) and the Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries (a nationwide, school-library book gifting scheme). We also work with charity partners Barnardos, Children in Hospital, Ireland, BUMBLEance and St Michael’s House, ensuring universal access to all children, whatever their situation or location. In 2018, we established a partnership with Dublin Region Homeless Executive to provide libraries and book gifting schemes for families in emergency accommodation. In July 1,367 families were registered as homeless in Dublin, and the numbers continue to rise. It is imperative that every child has the best start in life and that all children and young people are enabled to maximise their capabilities to have control over their lives. What happens early in life affects health and wellbeing in later life. Improving health and wellbeing, raising education levels and reducing inequality bring significant long-term economic returns.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
For BOLD GIRLS to be a success, we needed a multifaceted approach, supported by multiple partners including media, higher education institutions, advocacy organisations and corporates. Through established partnerships and strong media and social media campaigns we reached huge quantities of new audiences and generated a conversation around representation. The BOLD GIRLS Reading Guide gave us a strong content-base from which to satellite all project elements, media and social media. The pick-up was extensive both within Ireland and in the UK where the majority of the children’s books that exist in our market are produced. The campaign was supported by libraries and schools across Ireland and especially bookshops with the two largest chains (Dubray and Eason) onboard promoting it nationwide. The campaign featured across all forms of traditional media, print and broadcast (both radio and TV). Numbers increased across all social media platforms with Twitter profile visits up 112% during the launch period. All of this increased visibility of the organisation led to increased conversation around gender-parity.
Our book gifting partnership with KPMG ensured that books made their way into the hands of young readers, the rippling effect of this book donation was best described by Éadaoin Kelly, Principal, St. Mary’s N.S. Dorset Street;
‘Our involvement in the BOLD GIRLS initiative was one of the highlights of our school year.
The project highlighted the existing gender stereotypes children may have encountered in the books they read and introduced them to strong, empowered female authors, illustrators, real-life heroines and fictional characters. For girls and boys alike, the interest in these books has been incredible. The children articulate very clearly the importance they place on seeing strong, confident female characters in the books they read. For the adults in school, it has given us the opportunity to reflect on our book choices, ensuring our school and class libraries are increasingly gender balanced and that our curriculum, across the school, embraces the aims of the project. Our girls see themselves reflected in the books they read and are encouraged to be the strong, confident women
What makes this Organisation unique?
Children’s Books Ireland is a not-for-profit arts-based charity that celebrated our twenty-first birthday this year. We are a team of four full-time staff delivering a huge range of programmes and partnerships nationwide. Although we support literacy alongside our colleagues in other organisations, our goal is to highlight the inherent benefits of reading for pleasure. As an organisation we provide support to adults who have an interest in providing meaningful engagement with children’s books as teachers, librarians, parents or guardians in order to benefit from the multiplier effect that each adult can have.
Research has shown the reading creates empathy and serves children later in life as the basis for all future skills.
We believe that access to books and reading materials is the right of every child and we strive to make books a part of every child’s life on the island of Ireland. We partner with an extraordinary number of partners annually including; other charities, festivals, children’s organisations, arts organisations, corporates and media to deliver this. As an organisation our outlook and approach to achieving our vision is best described by Karina Howley, Head of Corporate Citizenship & Diversity, KPMG Ireland, with whom we have partnered on a book gifting scheme for the past three years.
‘KPMG are delighted to work with CBI over the last number of years on our World Book Day literacy activities and more specifically this year on our BOLD GIRLS workshops. Working with the team in CBI is fantastic, when we are brainstorming ideas they bring creativity, unique perspectives, a no-problem attitude, professionalism and years of experience to the table – this is invaluable for us. We are always looking at innovative ways we can have hands-on, skills-based volunteering opportunities for our employees in the education/literacy area and CBI always deliver on this.’
How can the public support this work?
CBI offers membership to individuals – parents, grandparents, guardians, teachers, librarians, booksellers, artists, academics and other adults with an interest in children’s books – and to organisations such as schools, bookshops, libraries and publishers. Supporting Children’s Books Ireland ensures:
1. You assist Children’s Books Ireland to work towards our mission of making books a part of every child’s life in Ireland
2. You become a vital part of a larger community highlighting the importance of books for young people
3. You support Children’s Books Ireland to further resource our essential activities and projects
CBI takes on approximately 4-5 volunteers per year and in 2018 we took on a part-time Marketing and Fundraising Manager to diversify our income base, raise our profile and highlight our projects to potential partners.
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
The CBI executive report to the Director, and the Director reports to the board. One third of the board (those in position longest) must resign at Annual General Meeting but may offer themselves for re-election by CBI’s members (see Constitution for further details). The board has approximately six regular meetings a year at which detailed finances and Director’s reports detailing the activities of the organisation since the last meeting are presented, plus an annual strategy meeting. New directors are provided with an orientation pack including company documentation and the Arts Council’s Practical Guide for Board Members of Arts Organisations, which may be supplemented by governance training. We comply with SORP and CBI is on the journey to compliance with the Governance Code; our Secretary and Director have been taking part in The Wheel’s Governance Code Boot Camp which provides governance training to staff and board.
Budgets are set at the beginning of each year and are monitored closely to ensure that cash flow is healthy, income targets are met and project budgets are adhered to. Accounts are managed by the Administrator, and management accounts are prepared by the Director. In 2016 QuickBooks was implemented and staff trained in its usage to ensure that a robust system was in place to track income and expenditure, reconcile bank statements and produce detailed reports for monitoring by the Director and for presentation to the Board. A financial procedures and policies document was implemented in 2017. Each project’s allocated budget is monitored by the project leader and the Director. Bills received are approved and coded to the relevant budget line by the. Payments are processed by the Administrator and approved by the Director. Outgoing invoices and debtors are monitored in QuickBooks; payment is sought from overdue debtors by the project leader. Cheques must be signed by two signatories. Payroll and tax is looked after externally by David McConnell and audits are carried out by JPAS Ltd.
Company information can be found on our website, including audited accounts, annual reports, lists of staff and Directors, constitution and policies.