An initiative to encourage more parents in Mayo to read to their children has been launched by the active and healthy 0-6 years subgroup of Mayo Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC ), which states that "Reading to your baby and young child has been proven to help grow their brain, grow a bond between you, and helps develop their language, emotional literacy and creativity."
The ‘Book Bags’ initiative will see families receive a bag of books that have been carefully selected by the library service. The books deal with a range of topics focusing on emotional wellbeing, all in the form of easy to read stories with eye-catching illustrations, and can be enjoyed by all the family.
The CYPSC stated: "All available practice and research shows the many benefits of parents reading to their children. Reading to young children can help them to organise their feelings and can comfort them if they’re struggling with difficult emotions. It also helps cement the parent/child bond, which is a key component of healthy child development.
"Mayo CYPSC consulted with parents and health professionals last year to identify ways that organisations can work together to support parents to give their children the best start in life. Research shows that the first three years of a child’s life are really important and that support for children and families in the first three years can lead to better health and wellbeing for many years to come. The CYPSC’s Mayo Health and Wellbeing Plan 0-3 Years (2018-2022 ) identified reading to your child as a simple action that can lead to better mental health and better relationships between children and their families."
Family support workers across Mayo will be leading the implementation of this initiative. A cross-section of families across Mayo will be included, where every effort will be made to include the greatest number of families with the ‘Book Bags’ project.
Chairperson of the subgroup, Thelma Birrane from the HSE said: "We know parents do all they can to give their child the best start in life. Parents are busy, and meeting all the demands of life can be challenging. Reading to your baby and child even for a short length of time on a regular basis is time well spent. It helps your relationship with your baby and child and helps with their language development. It can also be a break or a wind-down from the daily rush of life. Supporting children and families to read and encouraging families to use local libraries, which are free, is an important action from our Early Years Health and Wellbeing plan.”
This action was part funded by seed funding from Mayo CYPSC, and Healthy Ireland. Mayo CYPSC coordinator, Jarlath Munnelly added: "This is a very good example of agencies that are part of Mayo CYPSC working together to deliver actions of common interest, that are consistent with the Mayo CYPSC Plan, and the recently completed health and wellbeing plan for early years."