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New book project to help Irish children engage with wildlife

My first book of Irish AnimalsKildare nature writer and author Juanita Brown has teamed up with Wicklow artist Aoife Quinn to create a captivating large-format picture-book that aims to help Irish children discover the wonder of our native wildlife. But she needs your help to get her project off the ground.

“My First Book of Irish Animals” is a picture-book designed to introduce young Irish children to our fascinating native wildlife. It’s a book that’s long overdue. Nothing is more important, for our wildlife or for our children, than getting our youngsters to re-engage with the natural world around them. The video below introduces the project and gives some idea of why a book like this is sorely needed in today’s Ireland.

Click here to support this project on “Fund:It”

Getting funding and support for wildlife related projects — particularly those focussed on younger children — can be a real challenge in this country. Traditional channels, like book publishers for example, often fail to see the potential from a commercial perspective, and so they turn countless projects like this down without really giving them a chance.

A few years ago I approached several Irish publishers pitching the idea of wildlife themed photo-story books for young children in collaboration with a leading wildlife photographer. The response to the concept was universally enthusiastic, but ultimately publishers turned it down because they felt there simply wasn’t a big enough market to make the books commercially viable. So the project was shelved.

I’m convinced they were wrong.

My experience setting up this site and the associated social media channels has shown me there’s a healthy and growing appetite out there for wildlife related content, and a real interest in reconnecting with the natural world. This year I’ve been visiting local schools as a Heritage Specialist through the Heritage Council’s Heritage in Schools scheme. I’ve been working directly with primary school children to explore the wonderful world of wildlife — and they can’t get enough of it.

The innate curiosity young children have for the natural world is alive and well. The spark is still there, all we need to do is fan it into life before the myriad distractions of a modern, screen-filled existence come along and snuff it out.

That’s why books like Juanita’s are so important. We need to capture children’s imagination, engage them with nature at an early age and help them learn about the world they live in and the creatures they share it with. Not all of them will grow up to be wildlife enthusiasts and advocates — but many will grow up with a much healthier understanding of the natural world.

That’s good for wildlife, it’s good for our children, and ultimately good for society at large.

You can help fund this project by pre-ordering the book

Juanita is trying to make this incredibly worthwhile project happen through a process called “crowd-funding”.

Crowdfunding is a new way of securing investment for creative projects through small contributions from many individuals and organisations. Essentially the way it works is that you pledge a set amount of funding for the project in exchange for rewards.

If the project reaches its funding target (and only if it reaches its funding target) the funds you’ve pledged are debited from your account, the project receives the funding it needs to go ahead, and you receive your reward(s). It’s a simple concept that’s helping realise many creative projects that would otherwise lie dormant.

In this case the rewards on offer are copies of the book with various levels of personalisation / acknowledgement for your contribution. It’s a great opportunity to support a really worthwhile project.

Juanita explains it better than I can.

Supporters who back this journey will in effect be pre-ordering a copy or copies of the book which can be posted to them or to friends or family as gifts. In doing so they will be spreading the word about our beautiful fauna and educating our children about their native Irish animals.
I would be so grateful if you would be willing to help fund this project. Anyone who generously offers a contribution towards the cost of printing this book will be contributing directly towards sharing the often hidden beauty of Ireland’s wildlife with future generations.

— Juanita Browne

Irish Hare -- My First book of Irish Animals

To pledge your support / pre-order your copy(ies) check out the project’s entry on Irish crowdfunding portal “Fund:IT”.

At the time of writing there are only 9 days left for Juanita to hit her target and make this project a reality.

Please pledge your support, and share the project page with all your friends and family through social media / email. Remember, nothing is more important than getting children re-engaged with nature. Let’s help make it happen!

About the author

Juanita Browne has a degree in Zoology and a Masters in Media Studies. She has worked in RTE and on various newspapers and magazines, including editing ‘Wild Ireland’ and ‘Heritage Outlook’. This is her fourth book; ‘Ireland’s Mammals’ (2005); ‘Kildare’s Natural Heritage’ (2008), and ‘Put the Kettle On – the Irish love affair with tea’ (2013). She currently works as a researcher/producer for natural history documentaries for television and radio and is a Heritage Expert with the Heritage in Schools Scheme, visiting primary schools to talk to children about Ireland’s wildlife.


Fund it is an all-island crowdfunding website for Ireland’s creative projects, giving everyone the power to help good ideas happen. It covers Art, Craft, Film, Publishing, Science & Technology projects. It is funded under the New Stream programme, supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, The Arthur Guinness Fund and via the support of a technology grant from the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht. Fund-it works on the basis of ‘all-or-nothing’ funding so if the target isn’t reached within the deadline, no pledges are taken from supporters.

Click here to support this project on “Fund:It”

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