The Irish Government has launched a new initiative to give a free bedtime storybook to all children aged four and under. 

The First 5 Little Book at Bedtime Initiative will allow parents and guardians and their children to choose from over 190,000 bedtime storybooks in both Irish and English that are available in libraries across Ireland. 

The scheme aims to encourage the parents of young children to "read stories with them at bedtime," with families encouraged to join their local library when they pick up their bedtime storybooks. 

📣 Minister @rodericogorman, and Minister @HHumphreysFG, today announced the First 5 Little Book at Bedtime initiative, in collaboration with public libraries and the Local Government Management Agency.

📍 Read the full press release here:

— Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, Youth (@dcediy) October 6, 2023

Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman and Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys launched the scheme on October 6, with free bedtime storybooks now available in local libraries. 

Launching the initiative, O'Gorman said reading bedtime stories can help support a close parental bond in addition to developing a child's language and imagination. 

"As the winter draws in, what a lovely time for parents and young children to cozy up and read together as part of the daily bedtime routine," O'Gorman said.

"I hope all families with young children will avail of this opportunity to pick up a free bedtime storybook from the library."

📘 Free bedtime story books for all children, 4 and under!

📚With 190,000 free bedtime story books in English & Irish available, I hope all families with young children will pick up a free bedtime story from their local library.


— Roderic O’Gorman TD (@rodericogorman) October 7, 2023

Humphreys thanked libraries for supporting the scheme and said she hopes every child in Ireland will join their local library. 

"Every library in the country has bedtime story books ready for parents and children to pick up. I commend the work of the libraries in supporting this initiative. I want every child in the country to be a library member and for children to share the lovely experience of having stories read to them at bedtime," Humphreys said. 

"Introducing children to the joy of stories and reading together is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child." 

Speaking on behalf of Irish libraries, Pauline Brennan, Leitrim County Librarian and Chair of the National Programmes Committee, said librarians across the country were excited to welcome families to pick up free books. 

"We’re so excited to be part of the Little Book at Bedtime initiative. We love seeing parents and children picking out books to read together, knowing the many benefits that has for children’s wellbeing, literacy, and love of reading," Brennan said.