Exciting book project will document children’s experience of pandemic

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galway daily news once upon a paden
Pictured at the launch at Fernhill House and Gardens were Ellie and Jude Cleary aged 6 and 4. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

School communities across Galway are being urged to get involved in an ambitious new project which will capture children’s experiences of the coronavirus pandemic in their own words.

The Covid Book Project was launched today by Irish publishing company Emu Ink, which developed online resources to help children write, edit and proofread their stories.

At the end of the project, the finished collection of pupils’ stories will serve as a local historical record of this year, and schools will have a book that documents the lives of the children and staff during the pandemic.

“We are delighted to be offering this wonderful opportunity to children in Galway and throughout Ireland, who will write a short story or poem about their life during the current crisis,” said Emer Cleary, founder and CEO of Emu Ink.

“We will then publish the work of these pupils, who are quite literally writing Galway’s history from their own viewpoints.”

She said that the finished book will act as a public record of this time and it will be available in the school and wider community for posterity.

“Future generations of students will gain a unique insight into the pandemic from the accounts of the students who have lived through it at their school,” added Ms Cleary.

“This project is going to change how our children’s children learn about what’s happening right now – and that is something special. We want everyone to join our movement!”

Emer Cleary, Emu Ink founder, with Ellie Cleary aged 6 and Jess Conry aged 11 Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

As well as creating a unique first-hand account of children’s experience, The Covid Book Project will encourage them to express their full range of emotions and help the adults in their lives understand how they feel about the last six months.

“It’s been a very tough few months for everyone. The children have been away from their daily routine and their friends – and teachers have been working exceptionally hard over the summer to welcome their classes back to school safely.

“Now that our school communities are getting back into routine, we want The Covid Book Project to be a positive activity for teachers, children and parents that will start the discussion about the impact on each other’s lives and will work in a classroom setting or as part of a blended learning programme.”

Home Stories

The Covid Book Project was inspired by the response from children to Emu Ink’s call to get writing during lockdown.

Ms Cleary explained that she believes that writing is one of the greatest forms of self-expression, so they wanted to get children writing about their feelings around lockdown or simply to offer them an avenue to escape all of that and write something completely unrelated.

“We had a huge response and were bowled over by the standard of work. Interestingly, a common theme was how much they missed school!

“It was this response that inspired Emu Ink to develop The Covid Book Project.”

In May – within four weeks of the call to get writing – Emu Ink published Home Stories, an anthology of stories and poems written by 132 school children throughout Ireland including Galway during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Get Involved

The Covid Book Project is open to primary and secondary schools in Ireland. Participating schools will gain access to Emu Ink’s online resources or teachers can simply set the children the task of writing a story or poem about life during this time.

Schools have a choice of a ‘traditional’ paperback anthology, which will fit the work of approximately 120 children as well as artwork on the front and back cover or an A4 book in full colour, the cost of which is generally covered by the parents or school community.

To recognise the contribution that the children make to The Covid Book Project, Emu Ink have partnered with Starbucks and Leisureplex.

Each child who participates will receive a €10 Leisureplex voucher and a Starbucks voucher for a hot chocolate and a coffee for their accompanying grown-up.