Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts and Heritage Niamh Smyth TD says World Book Day is an opportunity to encourage children in our communities to return to or start a new book today.

Deputy Smyth also outlined her Party’s policy on building a ‘Republic of Readers’ which includes commitments to create a National Book Gift Scheme, ensure every child automatically gets a local Library card when they start school, set up a new Literature Bursary & Translation Fund, and encourage Book Clubs for Older People to tackle loneliness.

“World Book Day should be celebrated in every school and community throughout the country. In Ireland we have a rich history in the literature world. Over the next number of weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day tourists from all over the world will visit our island and no doubt take in sites and museums linked to our literary greats.

“Research has shown that children who read often and make it a habit can excel in school and give them an emotional and imaginative mind that only books can provide. This is why Fianna Fáil is committed to ensuring every child entering school gets an automatic Library card, giving them access to thousands of books.

“We will create a national book gifting scheme were each child will receive a free book four times a year from the age of six months until they turn five. We will ensure every child receives a local Library card when they start school.

“Loneliness is a hidden problem in our communities. Reading can combat against this which is why we will increase funding to libraries and community groups to facilitate an expansion of book clubs to help older people. Gathering together in towns and villages in the form of a book club has the potential to reduce loneliness among participants.

“Fianna Fáil are committed to building a Republic of Readers. As legislators on World Book Day, we should take stock of how much attention is given to our younger generation in terms of access to Libraries and reading, and ensure proactive policies are introduced to afford children an opportunity to delve into these different imaginative worlds,” concluded Deputy Smyth.