The Editor’s Corner – Apr/May 2024

By Eoin Meegan

In a world dominated by mobile phones and video games, encouraging young people to read and develop a love of books has probably never been more important. The reading habit needs to be instilled at a young age. In a new initiative to help boost child literacy, Enterprise Mobility and Children’s Books Ireland have gifted over 4000 copies of the dyslexia-friendly book Wider Than The Sea, by Galway-based writer Serena Molloy to 134 primary schools across Ireland. And although the scheme was only launched in 2020 to date they have delivered over 10,000 books. The author, who admits struggling with dyslexia herself as a child now writes stories that celebrate neurodiversity. According to the Dyslexia Association of Ireland an estimated 1 in 10 students in Ireland have the condition. The aim of the book-gifting programme is to increase book ownership among children, enhance literacy levels and to inspire a life-long love of reading. 

A survey carried out recently by the learning and assessment provider Renaissance in the UK and Ireland found that the number of books read by children increased by almost a quarter last year, although the study did show that as children transition to post-primary school there was a slight decline. Anything that encourages children to read must be supported, as I’m convinced reading not only aids intellectual development, but is a factor in boosting self esteem; children identify with the book’s protagonist, and with them learn how to overcome challenges.   

And let us also pay tribute to the fabulous job libraries up and down the country do in this area, such as the Right to Read programme. I was always passionate about books and from an early age would devour any reading material I could lay my hands on. Starting with Treasure Island, I graduated to Tolkein and Ursula K Le Guin in my teens, and was habitually to be found with my head stuck in a book! I still like nothing better than to curl up with a good book. Further good news in this area was the announcement in March by Minister Norma Foley of the expansion of the Free Schoolbooks Scheme to Junior Cycle Students in post-primary schools. This is indeed to be warmly welcomed. 

And speaking of books, there’s a literary feel to this issue, as we meet local author, Ruth O’Leary, and review of her debut novel The Weekend Break (pgs. 4 & 14), as well as delving into the alluring world of Self Help literature (pg. 15) with Helen Walsh; another favourite genre of mine (Eckhart Tolle and Genevieve Davis among my personal favourites). But if movement is more your thing then Danspire (pgs. 12-13) will have you rocking in the aisles while also staying fit. And speaking of health and fitness, St Vincent’s Hospital recently held a Health Awareness Fair (pgs. 32-33) dispensing some potentially life-saving advice.  For all you art lovers the new Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer exhibition ‘Turning Heads’ (pg. 10) is now showing in the National Gallery. Not to be missed! Last, but not least, NewsFour was proud to be part of this year’s Sean Moore Awards (pgs. 30-31) which pays due recognition to the many unsung heroes who serve our community selflessly and without seeking personal aggrandisement. Well done to all concerned and may that community spirit live forever.