Free books for children starting school in Offaly

Cllr Mark Hackett and Senator and Minister Pippa Hackett.

Children starting school this September in North Offaly will be invited to collect a free book bag and join their local library as part of the roll-out of the ‘First 5 My Little Library’ Initiative.

The Initiative will provide a ‘My Little Library’ book bag in English or Irish to every child starting school in September. They can be collected from libraries across the country, with information for parents in each bag to support children on their learning journey. Children will also be offered free library membership, with a specially designed Little Library card wallet.

Cllr Mark Hackett stated: “The ‘My Little Library’ book bags will be available in our public libraries and is a wonderful opportunity for every family with a child starting school to get their little ones excited about learning and starting their new school adventures. We know that early childhood is a vital period in children’s learning and development, and by inviting children to join their local library before they start school we can encourage a new generation on a life-long love of reading and stories.

“The Easter holidays are the perfect time to pick up the bags and spend some time at the library,” he urged.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD added: “I am delighted to announce the launch of this new initiative for 4–5-year-olds. As the Minister for Children, I have asked every local library – that’s 330 libraries across Ireland – to put together these book bags for children starting school in 2022.

“The stories in the books are about starting school, being happy in yourself, and making friends. I hope that parents and their children will join the library and refill the book bag with borrowed books whenever they can.”

“The Green Party is committed to transforming supports for early years in Ireland. This is another small step in a wide suite of measures that I am working hard for in Government to deliver for young families and the future of our children. ”

Minister O’Gorman also this week announced changes to the National Childcare Scheme that will extend access to subsidized early learning and childcare for children and families. This means the hours spent in pre-school or school will no longer be deducted from a family’s entitlement to subsidized hours, benefitting up to 5,000 children and their families in the initial phase.

The Minister also announced the opening of the Transition Fund for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare providers, which encourage providers to freeze fees at September 2021 levels.

This means that parents will not be faced with fee increases, and the full affordability effects of the National Childcare Scheme, and the universal Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Pre-school Program, will be felt by parents.

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