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World Book Day

Geraldine Timlin

World Book Day-Celebrating the love of all things bookish


Why reading is a gift worth giving to your children.

World book Day is celebrated today, March 5th. Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, it will see hundreds of thousands of books and stories being shared across the globe.

It is a great opportunity to get children interested and excited about reading. There is the customary dressing up as your favourite book character that most parents are very familiar with as a WBD school based event. Most parents are left in a rush to create a costume in the last week, as your child conjures up all sort of possible characters they imagine they can be, and your creativity is sparked by getting involved in this wonderful activity, last minute or not.

World Book Day is a day full of bookish fun. Working in a Primary school, I am lucky enough to see all the amazing efforts children and parents have made with costumes. Children proudly model their costume, taking on all the traits of their chosen character in many cases. It is a great way for them to explore stories beyond the pages of the book.

As WBD is one of the key moments in the reading calendar, it helps to promote reading and community – something that is integral to the Free Wee Library Project. Today is also a great opportunity to familiarise yourself and your children with the FWL library locations and a day to visit your local town/city library.

Sharing and encouraging a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.

Children are like sponges from birth. They soak up information through all of their senses. If you can guide them towards print and the written word you open up a whole magical world to them. Visiting the wee libraries, coupling exercise in beautiful scenic locations will feed their imagination, encourage creativity, allow an exploration of nature and give them the very much needed balance of 'more green time, less screen time'. If you can acquaint children from a young age with free books outdoors in the community, it can be a very good building block for positive mental health ; both exercise and reading are  proven means of maintaining long term good mental health.

The experience of reading outdoors (if the Irish weather would be kind to us) has a very calming effect on children, and adults. It is a bonus to be able to enjoy this now with the FWL locations bringing books to readers and readers to books.

Some suggestions to encourage children to read:

  • Children love having stories read to them and also love being heard reading. Read to your child every day. Sharing this quiet time with them, they will be encouraged by you.

  • Let older children read to younger children, and vice versa. Varying who reads will take the pressure off the adults if time is limited.

  • When reading don't assume children understand all the words you have read, or indeed all the words they may have read to you. I recently asked a group of seven-year-olds what a carpenter was, to my surprise, none of them knew despite having read the word in their story. They thought a carpenter made carpets.  It is definitely worth exploring and questioning their understanding of words.

  • If you model a positive attitude towards reading and writing to your child, you are shaping their perception of the act of reading for the future.

  • If you are time limited, set aside bedtime as reading time. Even if you only read to them for 10 minutes, it is better than not reading at all.

  • Keep books in the car or in your bag for times you are waiting or have stopped somewhere. It is amazing what 5-10 minutes of reading can achieve, anywhere.

  • You can vary interest in books by helping children to illustrate or draw characters from the stories, create a book based game- it could be as simple as a game of i-spy and finding a certain word in a story, or finding rhyming words, or words beginning with a certain letter.

  • Question them about the story. Why do you think the character did that? Ask them to describe scenes, characters, alternative endings – this creates a greater understanding and comprehension, and you are encouraging them to use their imagination.

  • Build in a visit to any of the Free Wee Libraries as part of your weekly routine with your child. Cycle or walk to get the exercise in. Children will love this and see so much of their locality on the way.

  • Finally, when we read from a print book, we experience a whole tactile sensation holding the physical book in our hands. This supposedly surpasses eBooks, kindles, and screen reading. We imagine the sounds, tastes, smells, and the emotions of characters when we read. Reading from a book stimulates areas of our brain that reading from a screen or watching a film cannot equal. Reading also encourages empathy as we live out the emotions of all the characters in the books we read.  Stories can also teach us patience, resilience and how to resolve situations. A good book will leave you with an experience and a great book will leave a lasting impact on you.

Reading to your child now when they are young and encouraging your child to develop a love of reading will reap benefits for them as adults. Children who read will become adults who think, and most importantly who think for themselves.

Free Wee Library @ Visit Inishowen Tourist Office, Buncrana, Co Donegal

Free Wee Library @ Visit Inishowen Tourist Office, Buncrana, Co Donegal

*Over 250 books have been distributed throughout the Free Wee Library locations today.

For the love of books, get out there and enjoy :-)

If you would like a Free Wee Library for your community or business, just contact us

Discover. Read. Share.

For other ideas on reading check out:

Drop Everything and Read

The Reading Agency

Scottish Book Trust


Reading is good for your health

Geraldine Timlin

Buncrana Medical Centre joins the Free Wee Library Project

Dr Ciara Steele, Buncrana Medical Centre (left) and Geraldine Timlin, Free Wee Library Project (24/10/2014)

Dr Ciara Steele and GPs at the Buncrana Medical Centre became the latest group to purchase a Free Wee Library for their practice. The library was sited in the Centre in late October and has been a great addition to the practice, with both staff and patients enjoying the chance to read and share books. 

It has been widely researched and documented that reading is good for your health, particularly for our mental health. Scientists say that deep reading is good for you as it helps neurons and cells connect and remain functional whilst also reducing stress. Immersing yourself in a book, 'deep reading' can have real medical benefits. It is like exercise for your brain. When you read there are multiple areas, cells and circuits in the brain that get activated. Reading creates images in our minds and activates comprehension and speech areas of our brain, all helping our brain to remain functioning healthily.

New MRI scanning techniques now enable science to prove this. An American brain-imaging study showed that when we read and imagine the landscapes, sounds, smells and tastes described on the page, the various areas of the brain that are used to process these experiences in real life are activated, creating new neural pathways. 

In other words, our brains simulate real experiences, just as if we were living them ourselves. This doesn’t happen when we’re watching TV or playing a computer game.

Getting stuck into a good novel appears to be beneficial to our mental health. As the old saying goes: ‘You’re never alone with a book.’ Reading not only staves off feelings of loneliness, it helps us to wind down, de-stress and forget our own problems for a while.

Recent research suggests that regular reading (2-3 times per week) is associated with a 35% reduction in the risk of Dementia and it can help reduce our stress levels by 68% . Whilst taking part in a social reading activity like reading groups can help people feel less isolated. 

Couple this with outdoor exercise, walking to any of our Free Wee Libraries to pick up a book and you are on to a winning combination - promoting your own positive well being.

Get lost in a good book today :-)

Some books leave us free and some books make us free.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson


For further info on Reading for your Health:

If you are interested in finding out about a Free Wee Library for your business/community -contact :



Sandymount Hotel welcomes a Free Wee Library

Geraldine Timlin

Manager of Sandymount Hotel, Gerard Loughran, Geraldine Timlin, Free Wee Library Project and Ruth Cooper, Green Team Co-ordinator Sandymount Hotel. (8.10.14)

Manager of Sandymount Hotel, Gerard Loughran, Geraldine Timlin, Free Wee Library Project and Ruth Cooper, Green Team Co-ordinator Sandymount Hotel. (8.10.14)

The Sandymount Hotel in Dublin is the first hotel in Ireland to join the Free Wee Library Project.

Management are keen to promote the free book sharing idea with hotel guests, staff and members of the community. The hotel was recently awarded Eco-Label Certification from the Green Hospitality Programme acknowledging their dedication in eco-friendly hospitality. The addition of the Free Wee Library will build on the hotels ethos of doing their best in their approach to eco tourism and becoming more environmentally responsible.

John Loughran, Director and Owner said; “We want a greener cleaner world for future generations and the hospitality industry can make a substantial contribution towards achieving this.” The hotel is one of the only family run hotels in Dublin and has been in business since 1955.

Our wee library has no doubt found a very welcoming home! We are delighted they have joined our project.

The Free Wee Library is a great way of reducing waste by sharing books already in circulation. We are also committed to improving the design and understanding of public space by encouraging people to spend time outdoors reading, walking and promoting positive well being.

If you are interested in finding out about a Free Wee Library for your area contact :