It’s not all screen time with the nation’s youth as new figures show children are also the biggest users of the country’s public libraries.
All but two of the top 20 most borrowed titles from libraries last year were children’s books, according to new figures obtained from the Local Government Management Agency.
The most popular title among readers during 2019 was Double Down — the 11th book in the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by US author, Jeff Kinney.
As in previous years, the list of most borrowed books in 2019 was dominated by the series about the adventures of American schoolboy, Greg Heffley, with seven other Diary of a Wimpy Kid titles also featuring in the top 20, with six ranked in the top 10.
There are now 14 books in the award-winning series which have been a publishing phenomenon since the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid was published in 2007.
Over 200m copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid titles have now been sold worldwide in 64 languages including Irish, while they have also been the subject of four movies which have grossed around €250m in box office sales.
The other titles in the top 10 were the My Mr Men complete collection (2nd); Wonder by R J Palcio (4th), and Bad Dad by David Walliams (10th).
The only adult novels to break the stranglehold of children’s authors were Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (11th) and Skin Deep by Liz Nugent (19th) — one of three books by Irish authors in the top 20. The others were Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Under The Hawthorn Tree (18th) and Bumpfizzle the Best on Planet Earth by Patricia Forde (20th).
Details of the books and authors most borrowed from libraries have been compiled by the LGMA in advance of the first National Library Open Day next Saturday, when libraries across the country will showcase the range of events and activities they offer.
Despite the popularity of his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney was only the ninth most borrowed author from Irish libraries in 2019.
The apparent anomaly is due to the popularity of large series of books for very young children.
Topping the list of most borrowed author for the third year in a row was Roderick Hunt, author of the Magic Key series aimed at young children, ahead of Roger Hargreaves, author of the Mr Men series and Daisy Meadows, the collective pseudonym for a number of authors who write the Rainbow Magic series of children’s books.
Again only two adult novelists — James Patterson and Lee Child — are listed in the top 20 borrowed authors in 2019.
The latest available figures show there are almost 755,000 library members in the Republic with approximately 14m items borrowed each year.
The average number of library visits per head of population is 3.58 per annum with libraries in Cork City having the highest average at six and Louth the lowest at two.