Best known for the Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series, the US writer said he is passionate about encouraging children to read more books.
“Far too many children are in danger of living their lives without books. Reading is one of the building blocks of life and can take you to another world. It only takes one good book to create a lifelong reader — even kids that have trouble reading can usually find something they gobble up,” he said.
The renowned author added: “Children have a fundamental right to libraries in schools and a right to access to books that will interest them.”
Patterson’s donation will be split over two years as part of the first ever World Book Day Award.
The competition offers schools the chance to win books for their libraries and asks entrants to respond to the statement ‘Why we can’t live without books’.
Entries can be submitted in a range of creative formats, including writing, art, film, and photography.
The deadline for entries is January 30, with the winner and runners-up being announced on World Book Day, March 5.
The winning school will receive €12,000 with a second prize of €6,000, and three runners-up each receiving €3,500 worth of books. They will each also receive the expert advice of a local bookseller to help them make their selection.
World Book Day director Kirsten Grant said she is “incredibly excited” to have launched the inaugural award. “We want to celebrate the wonderful work schools do every day to promote reading for pleasure, so I can’t wait to see how the nation’s children respond.
“As a judge I’m hoping there will be some fantastically creative and heartfelt entries. School libraries are vital in encouraging a love of reading in children, and we’re incredibly grateful to James Patterson for his generous prize donation.”
Joining Ms Grant on the judging panel is Patterson, presenter and author Helen Skelton, and The Sun books columnist Natasha Harding.
Now in it’s 18th year, World Book Day is the biggest annual celebration of reading for children, with over 100 countries taking part. Under the initiative, schools across the country will receive hundreds of €1.50 book tokens. There will also be a range of €1.50 books available to showcase best-selling Irish writing and illustrating talent.