As a mum, few things give me as much pleasure as seeing my seven-year-old with her head stuck in a book.
Ava is an avid reader, sneaking out of bed to turn on the light and read after bedtime, always with more than one book on the go. It is something I have tried to cultivate since she was a small baby - I read to her from the age of about five months and as soon as she was able to move around, she would find a book and bring it in her chubby fist to whatever adult was closest and demand to be read to.
Today, children around the country are celebrating World Book Day, with many heading in to their primary schools dressed up as their favourite book character. But sadly, according to new UK research commissioned to mark the occasion, children are reading less and less as each year passes.
Overall, just 53pc of today's children said they enjoyed reading "very much" or "quite a lot". There is no comparable research for Ireland, but it is safe to assume that, as screen use rises, Irish children are also reading less than they used to.
This decline in reading really is a shame. I've found that at home with Ava, her love of books has been of huge benefit. It always made putting her to bed quite easy, for instance.
She looked forward to her stories, even though if I am honest, sometimes I dreaded it as it could involve five, six, seven or more books before she was sleepy and, as we were awake with the dawn most mornings, I read to her in the mornings before I went to work and she went to creche.
We built a good library of books over the years - my route home from work when she was a toddler involved passing a bookshop that was closing down (for about two years) and sold children's books for a couple of euro. She got them as presents - when people asked what she would like for birthday or Christmas, I always suggested books.
This was as much for my sake as hers. The variety kept me from getting too bored. I also gave away the ones I didn't enjoy reading because, as any parent knows, reading a badly-written children's book over and over again is a particular type of hell. I recommend the Julia Donaldson books for anyone book-buying for a small child - they are well written and trip off the tongue. Reading them allows you to go into a nice, relaxing meditative state.
As soon as she was old enough to understand, I began telling her about the day when she would be able to read for herself and how it would unlock all the stories in the world for her to access, whenever she wanted. I would tell her about how, every Saturday from about the age of nine or so, I would walk to the local library to exchange my three books, stopping en route at the Texaco garage to spend my 50p pocket money on a bag of Skittles. When I was 12, I got a young adult card which allowed me access to the adult library and I was able to read all sorts of books, some that my mother would never have approved of (remember Flowers In The Attic anyone?). As soon as I got home, I would get into my bed and devour my new books while savouring the sweets. I tell her that some day soon, she will be able to do the same, and then she too can choose whatever books she wants.
I tell her stories of my time working in the Dublin City Libraries and how I prayed to be sent to a children's library so I could read all my favourite childhood books again.
When she was about six, she asked to read to me - and we would often share the bedtime reading, with her reading a page or two, then passing over to me. Most of the time now, she reads herself to sleep, but I still read to her at least once a week - mostly books I enjoyed as a child, and sharing these with her is magical.
It gives her an insight into the fabric of my childhood and weaves my memories into her experience of the stories - we are almost finished reading Enid Blyton's Malory Towers series and she never gets tired of hearing how I mispronounced all the characters' names.
She also has her own favourites - she is currently obsessed with Pog by Irish author Padraig Kenny, and the Isadora Moon books by Harriet Muncaster. And she loves the Dorothy Edwards' My Naughty Little Sister books, having a mischievous little sister of her own.
That's not to say that we are entirely screen-free in this house - far from it. While our two aren't routinely given tablets or screens - the one exception being the weekly nit-comb when Ava watches YouTube on my phone for the duration - they do watch a lot of TV, and given the choice, Ava probably would pick telly over books.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the UK research also indicated that the level of reading amongst children drops as they age, with twice as many five to eight-year-olds as 14 to 16-year-olds saying they took pleasure from reading. But I'm really hoping Ava bucks that trend.