During this year's Book Week NI, the staff at Fermanagh Early Years based at the South West Acute Hospital celebrated Children's Book Day by hosting a special event where they invited local authors to read to the children with the aim of nurturing a love of books from an early age.

Book Week NI is a joint initiative arising from the partnership between BBC Northern Ireland and Libraries NI which encourages people of all ages to discover or rediscover the joy of reading.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Joan Jackman, Project Manager at Fermanagh Early Years said: "On Children’s Book Day the children dressed up as characters to come to the centre. Then we had two authors in. We had Aideen McGinley in the morning and she read her story, the book that she wrote about the Pooja Bears. She read it to each of the rooms."

She continued: "It went down really well. Some of the parents had came in for that event. Then in the afternoon we had Seamus McCanny in. He was very interactive and he told stories off the top of his head."

Commenting on why she believes it is important to encourage children to read, Joan said: "To me reading is the most important thing. The children just get lost in that imaginary world. That love of a book to have in your hand and to be able to hold and get lost, children get lost in the characters. They can go into them imaginary worlds and totally get immersed in it. For me that’s really important in their critical thinking and creativeness. We like to explore all that with our children."

Sharing her experience of reading at Early Years' Children's Book Day event, Aideen commented: "There were children from weeks old right through to age 12 and I read the story of the Pooja Bears, the book I wrote a couple of years ago as a fundraiser for Habitat NI."

"I was delighted to be asked to share Book Week because I believe very passionately in the importance of reading to children. I think one of the greatest gifts is an interest in books and I think in the current digital age it's even more important that children get to see and touch books," she said. Noting how Book Week focuses on keeping children interested in the power of the written word, Aideen added: "The Early Years staff do a great job there and they were there as part of the storytelling session as well. This was an opportunity to work with children from tiny tots right through to older children and just using stories to hear their stories."