Celebrate World Book Day with Barnardos

02 Mar 2017 in Featured

March 2nd is World Book Day and to mark the occasion Barnardos Library & Information Service, invited staff and members to share a piece about their ‘Favourite Book’ or a book that they found to be ‘Inspirational’ in their life or career.

Also, check out the World Book Day Ireland website for lots of free resources for preschools and primary and secondary level, to encouraging children to read all year round!

Books have the power to inform and inspire, to educate and elucidate.  From childhood to adulthood, many of us have found solace and understanding in books.  Here, some of our members share their favourite or most inspiring books…


I first read James Larkin (by Emmet Larkin – no relation) when I was 16, and from that moment on I’ve never wanted to be anyone else but him. I’ve never succeeded of course, although I did have the experience of working for James Larkin’s son Denis for a number of years. Larkin was a giant, although often shambolic. He bankrupted his union and he served time in jail, but he left an enduring and indelible legacy in terms of the rights of ordinary people. When he was on trial in the US, charged with anarchy, he gave a famous speech in which he described himself as being possessed all his life by “a burning desire to close the gap between what ought to be and what is”.

In one particularly memorable passage, often quoted, he summed up his political philosophy this way: “And at an early age, I took my mind to this question of the age – why are the many poor? It was true to me. I don’t know whether the light of God or the light of humanity or the light of my own intelligence brought it to me, but it came to me like a flash. The thing was wrong because the basis of society was wrong.”

But it’s that phrase, about the gap between what ought to be and what is, that has always stuck in my head. If only we could all live our lives that way!

Fergus Finlay, Barnardos CEO


As a kid I’m not sure what came first my vivid imagination and fondness of harmless mischief or my reading of Roald Dahl. The words and characters Dahl so marvellously brought to life through his storytelling are interwoven into my childhood. I don’t think I could pick just one book but if I had to I’ll say The BFG a very tall tale made of dreams and nightmares.     

Aisling Andrews, Fundraising, Barnardos


Among my favourite books is The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing. The story takes places in colonial Rhodesia in the 1940s, where the author spent much of her early life, and centres on a relationship between a homeowner and her servant. It is a complex work shifting between race politics and feminism - enduring themes with fresh significance.

Nuala Connolly, Senior Researcher, Barnardos Learning and Development Service


The book I chose was by Cathy Nutbrown, Key Concepts in Early Childhood Education & Care.  I choose this book as I am presently completing my Level 8 Early Childhood Education & Care degree and it assisted me enormously in gaining a broad understanding of this sector which is constantly changing.  Nutbrown writes with a deep knowledge and passion about her subject and it encouraged me to reflect on my own practice and always to put the child at the center of the team.

Nora Custy, Teach Spraoi Preschool


One of my favourite books is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  I read it when doing a Life and Business Coaching course which was a great experience overall.  The book basically asserts that one can transform our lives and enjoy a more content life if you can:

•             Be impeccable with your word;

•             Don’t take things personally;

•             Don’t make assumptions;

•             Always do your best.

Ger McHugh, Training Officer, Barnardos Learning and Development Service


A #favouritebook (or two!) in our home is Ada Twist, Scientist and the story of her classmate, Iggy Peck, Architect. All about the power of Why? and supportive grown-ups!

Amanda Pyron, Assistant Director, Barnardos Learning & Development Service


One of my favourite books is Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. The story is about two girls, Lucille and Ruth (who is the narrator of the novel), who have been orphaned and are who are taken in by their aunt Sylvie. Sylvie is a drifter, but who shoulders the responsibility as best she can. 'Housekeeping' is actually about the abandonment of keeping house because keeping house is presented in the book to be a hopeless task. Time and change are far more powerful. It is far better, we are told to live lightly, to try to keep nothing, to be attached to nothing, because, as Sylvie says, 'in the end even our bones fail'. This is one of the most haunting, memorable and beautiful books I have read. It is also a strange book, and a mysterious one that lives with you afterwards.

Jacki Conway, Director of Support Services, Barnardos 


Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter.  Pollyanna had a wonderful approach to life – try and find something positive in every single situation in life. She called it the Glad Game: “... there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”  The benefits of taking a page out of Pollyanna’s book are countless.

Kristiina Veski, Fundraising Assistant, Barnardos


One of my favourite books is Alice Walker’s The Temple of My Familiar. This multi-layered novel looks at the challenges faced by marginalised people and examines issues of identity, history, society and oppression. Beautifully written, moving, complex and imaginative, I have read this book again and again.

Sinead Lawton, Publications Coordinator, Barnardos Learning and Development Service


I first read Animal Farm while at school. As someone whose favourite subject was history - with a particular interest in 20th century Russian history - the novel was an ideal read: short, full of symbolism and much easier to comprehend than the only other Orwell novel I have read, Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Phrases such as “Four legs good, two legs bad” and “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” have remained with me. The latter phrase sums up what George Orwell thought of the Communism as a form of government.

Colm Carroll, Information & Advice Officer, Barnardos Learning and Development Service


The BFG is the first book that I remember reading by myself and it was truly a transformational experience in my childhood.  As the youngest of seven children, here was a place that I could escape to all by myself and in the company of one of literature’s most lovable characters, the Big Friendly Giant.  This book opened up the world of reading and literature to me and I will be forever grateful to one of my Big Friendly Brothers for introducing me to it.

Maria Rogers, Library & Information Coordinator, Barnardos Learning and Development Service


Being interested in history, I loved The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham. It is a historical tome but reads like a novel.  Associated with that would be Burton and Speke by William Harrison. The latter was turned into a beautiful movie with Fiona Shaw and Patrick Bergin. I suppose, I love and despise (at the same time!) these roguish Victorian adventurers and explorers who enslaved continents on behalf of their shareholders….

Heino Schonfeld, Early Years Development Manager, Barnardos  


One of my favourite books is Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind. It’s a classic novel that is set in eighteenth-century France about a boy who had this incredible sense of smell and his sole ambition is to become the greatest perfumer of all time but which leads him to murder. It’s beautifully written and the descriptions are so vivid that you can practically smell the things the author is describing. At 263 pages it’s a short but very powerful story that I would really recommend.

Pauline Power, Internal Training, Barnardos Learning and Development Service