Around 70,000 Babies Love Books packs have been put together, including 7,000 featuring Bran ag Obair for parents who raise their child through Irish.
The majority will receive Humpty Dumpty and other Rhymes in the gift box being given out at most maternity hospitals, with a card which reads: “Welcome baby and congratulations parents. This book is a gift from the Minister for Education and Science on your birthday.”
Minister Mary Hanafin met some new arrivals and their parents at the National Maternity Hospital yesterday, where she launched the Babies Love Books project.
“This small token is a reminder to all mothers and fathers of newborn babies that the gift of reading is the most enduring gift we can give to our young,” said the minister.
“The world these children are growing up in is full of distractions, such as satellite TV, interactive toys and mobile technology, but every child loves to sit with a parent, open a book, turn the pages and enjoy reading a story together,” she said.
The gift box also contains a note on how best to read to a baby, and is also available in Irish, Polish and French.
The Department of Education is providing almost €400,000 to include the books in the welcome packs given out to new mothers by EUMOM at most maternity hospitals.
A key focus of the department’s literacy strategy is to encourage reading at home, and it is spending €5.5 million on literacy initiatives this year.
Recent international comparisons have placed Irish 15-year-olds among the top five for reading literacy out of almost 30 other developed countries.
* The books are available on request for babies born at other hospitals, at home or earlier in the year through the Navan Education Centre at 046-9067040 or email email@example.com. The Irish language book is available by calling Comhluadar at 01-6715116. www.eumom.com