SandMillers: Tour of the RDS; Talk on Children’s Books

Tour of RDS
In December last the Sandmillers met at the RDS for a guided tour led by John Holohan. Once again he amazed us with his wealth of knowledge as well as his genuine passion for all things to do with Dublin.

Founded in Dublin in 1731, the RDS has as its objectives the promotion and development of agriculture, arts, equestrianism, industry and science in Ireland. To this day it continues to voluntarily provide service to the community, just one example being the very successful annual Young Scientists of the Year Show. John related the history of the society and we were privileged to view several beautiful paintings, sculptures, the chamber where meetings are held as well as the extensive library.

The morning ended with a very pleasant luncheon in the members’ dining room.
‘A Hundred Years of Picture Books’
For our January meeting Valerie Coghlan, Independent Researcher of Children’s Literature, spoke to us on the subject of the way in which children’s books have evolved since the early 1800s.

Especially interesting was the growth of illustrations. The early ones only consisted of small pencil drawings perhaps at the corner of a page. We all know that infant books now consist mainly of illustrations, but we were made aware of the importance of illustrations for children who may be slower readers. For example, the illustration may at first be very small on a blank page and as it carries on page by page it enlarges-telling a story to the point of filling two pages entirely. This helps the child to learn to ‘read’ from left to right, to observe and to think.

A recent innovation is a book entitled The Arrival by Shaun Tan. It consists only of drawings moving along the page; telling a story of an immigrant child, its movements, its fears, etc. This book is for anyone and everyone. The fact that there is no language barrier helps the reader (child or adult) to relate to the plight they are going through and to those of us lucky enough not to be in that situation we become even more aware of their fight for recognition.
We thank Valarie for giving us her time and sharing her love of books with us.
Janet Walsh

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