Well, it’s official! Roald Dahl is Ireland’s favourite children’s author; as voted by both parents and children in a special poll to mark UNESCO’s World Book Day, Ireland’s greatest celebration of reading (today 1st March). 70 years after the acclaimed author was first published, his writings continue to enthral Irish children whose parents and grandparents were once similarly spellbound by his irreverence and dark humour.
In the World Book Day survey, Roald Dahl was by far the overall favourite author of both children and their parents. Children love Roald Dahl best (16%), followed in popularity by Julia Donaldson (12%) and JK Rowling (6%). Enid Blyton (5%) was fourth favourite amongst young people followed by Jeff Kinney, Francesca Simon, Dr. Seuss, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Murpurgo and Derek Landy (2%), who was the most popular Irish author.
Interestingly, when asked about their own favourite children’s authors, parents also chose Roald Dahl (27%), followed by traditional childhood favourite Enid Blyton (16%). Next in order of preference were authors Julia Donaldson, JK Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Michael Murpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, CS Lewis, Oliver Jeffers and Beatrix Potter.
73 % of respondents read to their children every day, and 41% continue to do so until they reach the 9-12 age group. 44 % of respondents reported that their children had more than 60 books at home, while 4 % of respondents reported that their children had no books at all. Also, while the vast majority of parents prefer to read printed material to their children, one statistic showed that 16 % of parents also read ebooks with their children.
Books by voters’ choices Roald Dahl and Derek Landy are included in the strong line up of free children’s titles for World Book 2012. Children of all ages can discover ‘Roald Dahl’s Fantabulous Facts’, including how to cook savoury crocodile, while top Irish writer Derek Landy, is delighting and spooking older children in equal measure with the newest instalment of his Skulduggery Pleasant series, ‘The End of the World’. Pre-orders for Derek’s book this year have been unprecedented for a World Book Day title and ‘The End of The World’ is expected to be a runaway hit in Ireland and the UK.
Irish publisher The O’Brien Press has once again printed a dual language book which children will love. There are two stories; Marco Moves In by Gerry Boland which comes with Bróga Thomáis, by Una Leavy. Both books will also be available in Braille and audiobook format. This flipper-book is proving immensely popular with young readers and looks set to make the bestseller lists as have previous World Book Day titles by The O’Brien Press.
Lina Kouzi, NCBI Library and Media Centre Manager commented: “NCBI is delighted that The O’ Brien Press have made it possible to have the flipper book of ‘Marco Moves In’ available in Braille and audio for children who are blind or vision impaired. Only around five per cent of all books, magazines and newspapers become available in Braille, audio or large print and as World Book Day is Ireland’s largest celebration of books and reading, it is wonderful that children who are blind or vision impaired have the opportunity to read the same new book as their sighted friends. NCBI’s library is the only producer of Irish interest materials in accessible formats like Braille and audio.”
Children can get a copy of any of the 9 special World Book Day titles for free with their World Book Day book token, which is a gift from their local bookseller. Yet again, Irish booksellers, together with National Book Tokens have made sure that as many Irish children as possible will receive a FREE book, by sponsoring more than one million special book tokens in celebration of World Book Day.
Now in its 15th year, World Book Day is celebrated in over 100 countries worldwide and annually teams up thousands of schools and pre-schools in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales with bookshops and libraries for everything from sponsored dress-ups and competitions to big events with their favourite authors and illustrators.
As well as events all around Ireland, World Book Day is today hosting its first literary online festival, ‘The Biggest Book Show on Earth’, featuring some of children’s best-loved authors. More than 500,000 groups and individuals in more than 25 countries around the globe have signed up to view the show being streamed live to their computers. Youngsters will watch online and submit questions to a show-stopping line-up of authors and illustrators such as Derek Landy, Eoin Colfer, Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, Lydia Monks, Korky Paul, David Melling, Jacqueline Wilson, Cressida Cowell and more. The show will be available for all to view after the event on www.worldbookday.com.
For the first time, a free World Book Day App for teenagers, containing specially-written short stories for World Book Day as well as videos and news is available for Apple devices – iTouch, iPhone and iPad. Teen app authors include Charlie Higson, Anthony Horowitz, Sophie McKenzie, Malorie Blackman, Neil Gaiman and Rachel Vincent.
According to Bob Johnston, spokesperson for World Book Day Ireland, “World Book day 2012 is our most dynamic World Book Day yet. Our aim is to make sure that all children, regardless of circumstance, have access to books and to the magical worlds and wonderful benefits that reading opens up. This will be the 15th year that Irish booksellers have sponsored more than one million special free book tokens for Irish children, as an inclusive way of giving something back to young readers.”