The Covid Book Project: Finished book will act as a public record of pandemic

By Lauren Mattice

The Covid Book Project initiative aimed to facilitate the recording of the coronavirus pandemic through the writing and perspective of school children was launched by Emu Ink, a publishing company helping independent writers — especially children.

With the help of Emu Ink’s online brainstorming, editing and proofreading modules, the children will be able to contribute to a historical record that speaks to their individual experience and that of the local community.

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Pictured at the launch at Fernhill House and Gardens were Ellie and Jude Cleary with Jess Conry Picture by Marc O’Sullivan

At the completion of the project, the stories will be compiled in a book for the school that’ll document their experiences alongside that of school staff.

“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,” said Emer Cleary, founder and CEO of Emu Ink.

 “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.”

Emu Ink’s original pupil programme started as an addition to the students’ English studies and grew with practicums in developing plot and characters along with streamlining the editing process.

In response to children’s enthusiasm for the publisher’s call to write during the early days of the lockdown, Emu Ink decided to take this spirit to the next level.

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Ellie Cleary Picture by Marc O’Sullivan

“I believe that writing is one of the greatest forms of self-expression, so we 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,” Cleary said.

“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.”

One of this first iterations of this enthusiasm was the publication of “Home Stories,” which took the creative writing and poems by 132 school children in Dublin and across Ireland and created an anthology that touched on themes of coping, loneliness and strength.

Coming back to a new normal, especially in schools and especially for children, will bring unprecedented difficulties. Cleary used this sort of uncertain to launch The Covid Book Project in order to bring pupils back together.

“It’s been a very tough few months for everyone,” Cleary said. “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.”

The project is open to work from Irish primary and secondary schools, and each participant will receive, from Emu Ink partners, a €10 Leisureplex and Starbucks hot chocolate voucher.

“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,” Cleary said.

“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.

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!”

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