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Sunday 24 March 2019

Forget computer games, library still luring children’s attention

Alfie Murray (8) reads a ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ book in Louth County Library, Dundalk. Picture: Arthur Carron
Alfie Murray (8) reads a ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ book in Louth County Library, Dundalk. Picture: Arthur Carron
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

FOUR out of every 10 books checked out of the country’s libraries are for children – as the lure of reading still stands up against computer games and television.

But there may be an element of parental nostalgia involved, too, as many of the books checked out are well-thumbed classics.

Enid Blyton of ‘Famous Five’ fame, Roald Dahl with his wondrous tales, and ‘Mr Men’ creator Roger Hargreaves remain regulars in the Top 10 children’s list.

“You’ll find that the children who are bright and active and curious will do all three – they will watch television, play computer games and read,” said Annette Kelly, head of libraries development at the Local Government Management Agency.

She said it was difficult to say if children were reaching for the classics themselves, or if parents were “introducing their children to books they loved”.

But alongside the old favourites, Irish children opted for authors from Ireland, Britain and the US, with children’s books representing 46pc of all books borrowed in 2012.

Among the most-borrowed books over the past two years

was the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series. The books from American author Jeff Kinney on the adventures of schoolboy Greg Heffley have captured children’s imagination.

Author Cathy Kelly, who will release her latest book ‘It Started With Paris’ in October, said: “When I was a kid, there was no such thing as an iPad, a 3DS or ‘Minecraft’ – that’s what you are up against today if you want your kids to read.

“The option is to buy lots of books, which are not cheap, sadly, and hope they find the one that opens the magic door into reading – or you can go to your library.”

Fantasy books have become more popular, including Limerick author Darren Shan’s works, with Eoin Colfer’s ‘Artemis Fowl’ series also extremely popular.

Elaina Ryan, director of Children’s Books Ireland, says if a child finds a book that they love, they’ll be “more likely to seek out new stories and to read more and more”.

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