The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards recognise excellence in writing and illustration, in Irish or English and is open to authors and illustrators who are born in Ireland, are permanently resident here, or are citizens of Ireland.
The annual awards, now in their 30th year, are considered the highlight of the year for those involved in children’s literature in Ireland. This year the prizes for the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland have been doubled on previous years. They include a €6,000 prize for the Children’s Book of the Year and a €2,000 prize for all other categories.
These include: The Book of the Year Award, The Honour Award for Fiction, The Honour Award for Illustration, The Eilís Dillon Award (for a first children’s book), The Judges’ Special Award and The Children’s Choice Award, the winner of which is chosen by hundreds of Junior Juries composed of young readers all over the island of Ireland. There’s also a new award this year for ‘Reading Hero,’ which aims to encourage involvement from young readers across Ireland.
Five women are today recognised in the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards 2020, announced by book-loving broadcaster Rick O’Shea, in a ceremony shared online for the first time in the Awards’ thirty years history. The Awards are the most prestigious prizes for children’s books in Ireland and celebrate the very best of Irish writing and illustration for younger people, and this year the prize fund doubled compared to last year, with thanks to new title sponsors KPMG. This year books for all ages, from picturebooks to young adult novels have received awards, with the winners including authors and illustrators of three verse novels, three books written in the Irish language, and two dealing with topics around dementia, with two awards going to artists from Northern Ireland and two to artists based in Donegal. The winner of the new KPMG Reading Hero award was also announced, recognising a young person’s potential and celebrating their remarkable passion for books.
CEO of Children’s Books Ireland Elaina Ryan said, “In an unprecedented time for Irish artists, we are prouder than ever to celebrate these truly excellent books and, for the first time, to recognize a remarkable young reader for their achievements, too.”
KPMG Managing Partner Seamus Hand said “Congratulations to all the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards winners and our thanks to everyone who participated. We’re very proud to support these awards which reinforce KPMG’s commitment to literacy and our passion for learning in general and reading in particular.”
The KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards recognise excellence in writing and illustration in Irish or English and are open to books by authors and illustrators who were born in Ireland, are permanently resident in Ireland or are citizens of Ireland and which were published between 1st January and 31st December each year. Founded in 1990, the Awards are the leading children’s book awards in Ireland. Each year a panel of judges read all of the books submitted by publishers, some 99 titles in 2019, and a shortlist of 10 is announced in March, with the final awards ceremony taking place in May. Previous winners include Kelly McCaughrain for Flying Tips for Flightless Birds, Deirdre Sullivan and Karen Vaughan for Tangleweed and Brine, Sarah Crossan for One, Oliver Jeffers for Once upon an Alphabet, John Boyne for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Sheena Wilkinson for Grounded and Kate Thompson for The New Policeman, Annan Water and The Alchemist’s Apprentice.
The KPMG Awards and Junior Juries programme are kindly supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Ecclesiastical Movement for Good Awards.
Children who read are more likely to achieve their full potential in life. There’s also huge enjoyment to be gained from reading.
The KPMG Reading Hero Award for 2020 goes to Harry Darcy for his overwhelming love of reading! Harry is in 5th class at Gaelscoil Moshiológ, Gorey, Co. Wexford and was nominated by his best friend Rossa Comerford. Rossa noted that Harry loves all books no matter what type of genre, but he especially loves the books of Rick Riordan. Harry will receive a €200 book token voucher as well as a €1000 book token for Gaelscoil Moshiológ.
The KPMG Reading Hero Award for 2020 chosen by KPMG Ireland staff. Thank you to all those who nominated keen readers in their lives!
Research has shown a direct correlation between literacy and success in life. People with a good ability to read are more likely to have better health and enjoy a longer life. In addition, their employment chances are increased, and they earn higher incomes. (The OECD, Skills Outlook, 2013).
“Showcasing children’s books and their authors, while highlighting reading as a fun and positive experience, can make a real difference in promoting literacy,” said Karina Howley, Head of Corporate Citizenship at KPMG. “We hope that our support of these awards will help bring to life the many positive things literacy can contribute both to individuals and to the wider community.”
Reinforcing the value of literacy in society, there’s also a direct link between literacy and the labour market. An Irish report by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) 2009 found that investing in literacy leads to a positive and rapid return across the board, for participants, the companies they work for, and the exchequer.
Further studies have found that reading improves mental wellbeing in children. Young people who are most engaged with literacy are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who are the least engaged (39.4 per cent versus 11.8 per cent –- The National Literacy Trust, UK).
Literacy also leads to improved educational achievements. Enjoyment of reading is more important for a child’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status (The OECD). It also improves literacy, numeracy and development of vocabulary. Children who read have increased levels of empathy, particularly those who read fiction. What’s more, reading is said to fuel the imagination.
Recent results of an OECD survey found that Ireland ranks fourth out of 36 OECD countries and third out of 27 EU countries for literacy. However, we’re amongst a group of countries that have experienced a small drop in reading performance since 2015 – thus reinforcing the value of promoting literacy at every opportunity.