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.
A total of 99 books have been submitted by publishers. These will be read by a panel of judges and a shortlist of up to 10 will be announced in March 2020 in Belfast, in partnership with Young at Art and the Belfast Children’s Festival. The final awards ceremony will take place in Dublin in May in partnership with the Irish Literature Festival Dublin.
“We’re delighted to partner with Children’s Books Ireland in supporting these awards and promoting the value of literacy,” said KPMG Managing Partner Seamus Hand. “Children who read are more likely to achieve their full potential in life. There’s also huge enjoyment to be gained from reading.”
KPMG has long been committed to education, which is Sustainable Development Goal 4, on a list of 17 global goals, making up the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. What’s more, KPMG strongly believes in encouraging young children to learn how to read, given the beneficial impact it can have on their lives.
Commenting on the awards and KPMG’s support, Elaina Ryan, CEO Children’s Books Ireland said, “As we celebrate the 30th year of these awards in 2020, we’re delighted to work with KPMG to get even more children and young people excited about reading, and to offer significant support to excellent Irish authors and illustrators by increasing the prize fund and raising the profile of the awards.”
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.