Choosing A Children’s Book: Parent’s Or Child’s Choice?

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and guardians and other significant adults like to buy books for children to encourage an interest in books, reading, and learning, to open horizons and for sheer enjoyment.

When a child is small it is usually the adults who choose the books. Their choices made be based on what popular tv shows the child might watch, what they enjoyed themselves when they were children, or what is valued on an educational level or what is good in creating a creative imagination.

As children get older they begin to develop particular interests in certain subjects whether it be dinosaurs, horses, sports or unicorns and fairies; so parents tend to buy books that cover those specific topics. Children start developing their own tastes and choices. So should they start choosing their own books and at what age should they be left to their own devices?

‘Although it seems as if letting kids choose their own reading material will ensure they get something they like, it doesn’t always work. According to teachers and librarians, when left to their own devices on library day:

  • Kids choose the same book over and over and over (and over) again.
  • Kids choose a book because they like the cover, although the content isn’t actually a match for their interests or reading level.
  • Kids choose a book because it’s based on a movie (for example, Star Wars), although the book itself is not that great.
  • Kids choose a book because their friends chose it — and they don’t actually like it.
  • Kids simply can’t judge whether a book is at their reading level.
  • Kids won’t choose a book, leaving them empty-handed and frustrated.’

But with some guidance along the way children will learn to become independent readers and begin to make their own choices about what genres they prefer and what authors they enjoy.

  • ‘When your child is ready to start reading, begin instilling the fact that we read for a purpose – whether it’s to learn something or for simple enjoyment.
  • Have your children browse through the books either at the library or the bookstore. If this seems to be too overwhelming, then have them narrow down their choices by either a type of book (fiction or nonfiction) or by genre such as action, comedy or a particular subject.
  • Say “yes” as often as you can when your child selects a book that he or she is interested in. If the book is inappropriate, let them know that although they may not choose the book today, they may choose it when they are older.
  • If your children select a book that is beyond their reading ability, solve the problem by reading together. Whenever possible, allow them to read as much of the book as they can themselves; you can jump in if there are parts that are difficult for your children to read or understand.
  • If your child has really enjoyed a particular book, remind him or her of the author’s name the next time they are selecting books.’

Once children have reached a certain maturity in their reading there are very good reasons to let them choose their own books. According to a teacher’s observations in her methods of getting children to read books, she discovered that…

1.  When you let kids choose what they read, they will take risks.

2.  When you let kids choose what they read, they will read more.

3.  When you let kids choose what they read, they become better writers.

4. When you let kids choose what they read, they enjoy reading; it’s not a chore.

5.  When you let kids choose what they read, they become empowered.

The death of the extended family

This is a very timely piece by my cousin, Ann Gerety Smyth

Ann Gerety Smyth

Once upon a time, older people were revered and loved by the tribe. They were the wise ones everyone looked up to and asked advice from. They stayed with the little ones and taught them tales while the youth and middle aged went to forage and hunt. They were looked after and they looked after in return. There was no reason for anyone to feel “useless” because everyone shared tasks and cared for each other and everyone just ‘was’. Then we separated into groups of different ages and stages and uses and were manipulated by those who wanted more and more and only saw the value in us when we worked to make their lives better, not our own. We began to see ourselves with a sell by date. This is so wrong. Let’s change that story, lets write a new one where we just ‘are’ and where we are…

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Winners Of A Free Book….. And Autumn Fruits

( See too)

Well, here are the winners of the free book giveaway! Congratulations to all the winners!

First was, Anselm…


Next were brother and sister, Ryan and Grace…


And finally … there was Boe…

Boe with his chick.

Fruits Of Autumn/ Fruits Of Fall

Well, it is that time of year when the leaves on some of the trees change colour and fall to the ground, when berries, fruit and nuts appear on trees and plants. Nuts and berries are the fruit of trees and plants just the same as apples are on an apple tree. Below are some of the tree and plant illustrations from my book, ‘A Posy Of Wild Flowers’. These were done by my sister, Angela Corkery Bickley. (The pictures have been turned into cards too.)


Notice the hazel nuts on the hazel tree


Notice the red berries on the Rowan tree/ also known as Mountain Ash


Notice the big red rose-hips


Notice the Ivy berries which eventually turn from green to black


Notice the big shiny conkers/chestnuts in their prickly cases.


Notice the clusters of red berries


Notice how the pink berries open to show orange seeds inside


Notice the difference between the sweet chestnuts that you can eat and the conkers from the horse-chestnut tree, which you cannot eat.


Notice the red berries on the hawthorn trees/ bushes that grow along country roads


Logo designed by Zinc Design Consultants

‘Culture Night / Oíche Chultúir is an annual, all-island public event that celebrates culture, creativity and the arts… On Culture Night / Oíche Chultúir, arts and cultural organisations and venues of all shapes and sizes, from independent studios and art-spaces to national cultural institutions, extend their opening hours to allow increased access for the public. Special and unique events and workshops are specifically programmed at participating locations and, thanks to the continued support of the Arts Council and local authorities across the island of Ireland, all activities are made available to the public free of charge.’

‘The fifteenth edition of Culture Night / Oíche Chultúir took place on Fri 18 Sep 2020 presenting a programme with over 900 offline and online events.

Culture Night is normally a ‘one night only’ experience, however this year, we invite you to continue to seek out the hidden online gems you may not have had a chance to catch on the night.

A massive thank you to Arts Council Ireland and the local authorities across the island of Ireland for making this year’s programme possible, despite the challenges. Grá mór to all the artists, arts organisations and local organisers for creating such fantastic events and activities, finding new ways for us to connect through culture / bheith le chéile trí chultúr.’

As chairperson of Longford Writers Group I was delighted to take part with other members in this year’s Culture Night. We were asked to do something online for Creative Ireland Longford and Culture Night Longford. So we made pre-recorded videos and put them up on the night on the Longford Writers Facebook page. Why not drop by and take a look?

Here are my contributions to the night.

Reading my poem, Phase 3
Reading my story, I’m OK, You’re OK, We’re OK

Let’s talk about weeds

Love this piece by my cousin, Ann Gerety Smyth

Ann Gerety Smyth

Nearly three years ago we decided to let the garden do what it wanted for many reasons, a rubbish lawnmower and not having the funds to buy a new one was one of them so it wasn’t all ecowarrior motives though there were some thoughts on that too of course. We had been gradually leaving more and more of it alone with pollinators in mind, perhaps it was an inevitable eventuality that we would just stop mowing.

We received some negative comments and growls on the unrulyness of it all but also a few whispers that it was a good idea and helpful to the bees. My replies to the negative comments vary from “We’re doing it for the bees” to “Someone in this village has to be messy” to “Don’t you know we are the Dingles of Ardagh?” to ” Why would I use up any of my valuable…

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Writing: A Solitary Pursuit That Seeks Social Stimulation

Writing by its very nature is a solitary process, where you live in your head, creating the characters and situations that are conjured up by some process of memory, inspiration, sense, or feeling. When you are ‘in the moment’ you don’t want to be disturbed in case the flow stops flowing.

At other times you may be struggling to find the right words, an inkling of an idea, or any motivation at all to write. You hope for some distraction from the emptiness of your mind or the emptiness of the page or screen.

Sometimes when you are stuck, meeting up with other writers can be a good opportunity to get some feedback or plot suggestions to help you move along. Meeting like-minded people can be a boost to your motivation and your mental health. So going to a local writers group is a good way to meet people like you but who are still interestingly different, an opportunity to listen to other genres and to exchange ideas.

There can be drawbacks to being in a writers group. Sometimes people aren’t honest enough and don’t want to hurt people’s feelings so you might not get the feedback you need. This is where a critique group with certain guidelines about feedback are set out, might be a better option.

Working with a prompt from a writers group can sometimes be a real blessing. I have actually produced some work that I have gone on to develop from such a prompt. But if you are writing to prompts rather than continuing with a personal work in progress it might be something of a distraction. In my local writers group, we use prompts but it isn’t compulsory.

Getting caught up in group activities can be good for you socially but sometimes the responsibilities can be onerous. But if a group is publishing an anthology of their work this is a good way to become published and to get some exposure locally as a writer.

Working with other authors can be a good idea, whether that is through social media groups, online communities, or your local writers group. You can learn from others’ experiences, discover where to go for a certain skill or training, and help cross-promote each other’s work.

Beta readers can give you good feedback on your current manuscript before it is published. This will help you edit your book and get a reader’s or writer’s point of view.

So, I think writing is a fine balance between getting your writing done in a personal space and sharing with others to get and give support and to experience social contact which is also important for your mental and emotional health.

Congratulations To The Winner Of The First Free Book!


In my blog last week aimed at children who enjoy my books, I said I would give away 4 free books, (A Posy of Wild Flowers), to the first 4 parents/ relation/guardian/young person who contacts me at

The first person to contact me was Margaret, for her son, Anselm. Both Margaret and Anselm are delighted with the book.

Margaret says:

This book is wonderful for the imagination. It reels you into a world of fairies and woodland magic. It’s informative too, I love how there’s a little bit of fact and history woven into the child-friendly verse. The illustrations are just beautiful, so colourful and enticing. Anselm loves looking at them, trying to find the fairies amongst the flowers. It is a beautiful book, anyone with children interested in the countryside should have it on their shelf.

Anselm, looking for fairies

The Good News Is That There Are Still 3 Free Books To Give Away!!!

The book must be for a child under 18 and so I will need a name and age for the child receiving the book. All others who contact me after the first 4, will receive a free download of my bluebell poem and a beautiful illustration to go with it, originally painted by my sister, Angela Corkery.

Free Book, And Interview With My Character, Rory Gumboots.


Well, for one reason or another I haven’t had any entries to my competition

so I am going to give away the 4 free books, one each, to the first 4 parents/ relation/guardian/young person who contacts me at

The book must be for a child under 18 and so I will need a name and age for the child receiving the book. All others who contact me after the first 4, will receive a free download of my bluebell poem and a beautiful illustration to go with it, originally painted by my sister, Angela Corkery.

Interview with, Rory Gumboots.

Picture by my son, Eoin Moynihan based on my book, Rory Gumboots

Eileen: What kind of animal are you?

Rory:    I am a hedgehog.

Eileen: What do hedgehogs like to do?

Rory:   They like to roll up in a nest of leaves, and to go hunting at night for food.

Eileen: What kind of food do you eat?

Rory:   Fruit that has fallen down, slugs, worms and other creepy-crawlies.

Eileen: Where did you get your red gumboots from?

Rory:   They were a present from my friend Jerome Gnome.

Eileen: Where do you live?

Rory:   Noddinghead Nook

Eileen: What kind of place is that?

Rory:   It’s a lovely quiet, sleepy place, with lots of trees and a little stream running through it. I live there with my friends.

Eileen: Who are your friends?

Rory:   Well Maisie Mouse is my best friend, but Roberta Rabbit, Oswald Owl, and Boris Badger are my friends too.

Eileen: What are your friends like?

Rory:   Maisie Mouse is kind and a bit shy. Roberta Rabbit is motherly, patient and sensible. Boris Badger can be a bit gruff and impatient, but is really soft-hearted. Oswald Owl is very wise knows what to do when things go wrong.

Eileen: Are all the animals in Noddinghead Nook friendly?

Rory:   Well… Fernado Fox and Horace Hare aren’t always kind. They enjoy playing tricks on the other animals for fun, but it isn’t much fun for the poor animals they play tricks on.

Eileen: What happened in Noddinghead Nook that upset the animals so much?

Rory:   Well it all started in Chapter 3….

   Rory Gumboots had not gone far, when he came upon a very

frightened Maisie Mouse.

  ‘Oh Rory! I’m so glad to see you,’ gasped poor Maisie.

  ‘Why, what’s the matter with you, you poor thing?’ asked Rory (as

he hated to see his friend so upset).

  ‘Monsters,’ gulped Maisie.

  ‘Monsters! Where?’ said Rory.

  ‘Over there in the meadow,’ squeaked Maisie, as she pointed across

the stream.

Rory stared across the stream and a look of shock came over his face.

  ‘Gracious me-Monsters!’ he blurted out.

There in the meadow stood three or four huge monsters, with different

shaped heads; and one was baring its teeth. Rory thought quickly and

then declared to Maisie,

  ‘Something must be done. We will call a meeting of all the woodland creatures.’

Available on Amazon

Heritage: A Part Of What We Are

Every fibre of our being from the soul

Of our feet to the tip of our head

Comes from our ancestors, Blood, Bones,

Organs, everything of us is a reflection

Of them themed by the place we are reared in

The love and respect we are shown and replicate.

Our source of learning. Our place of living

All help form who become as people.

But people whose flesh and fibre has long since

Disintegrated play a big part in who we are.

They are our Ancestors, Through their silence

And invisibility we can easily forget they ever lived.

They did live and each one of us is the proof of their presence.

When we find them, never judge them for the time they lived in

Is much different than ours, most severe most likely.

WE are because they were, Our Ancestors.

Liam Mc Namara 25th Nov 2019

Dolmen at Aughnacliffe, Co. Longford

It was recently Heritage Week in Ireland. It ran from 15th-23rd August. This year the theme was ‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’. There was encouragement for everybody … ‘to explore the close connection between education and heritage, and to consider what our heritage can teach us about our past, what it can tell us about our present and how it can provide fresh ideas for a sustainable future.’

The areas that were suggested to groups to look at for projects, were:

Re-learning skills for sustainable living

The heritage of education

Heritage on your doorstep

According to The Heritage Council, heritage comprises of…

the tangible – our historical sites, buildings, monuments, objects in museum artefacts and archives.

the natural – our waterways, landscapes, woodlands, bogs, uplands, native wildlife, insects, plants, trees, birds and animals.

the intangible – our customs, sports, music, dance, folklore, crafts, skills, and knowledge.

2020 has become the year of Covid-19 and social distancing so the projects had to be approached in a different way. So, many community groups and individuals from different counties developed videos for Heritage Week. Below you can see three of the many videos made in my local area.