The best Irish children’s books that feature zero leprechauns

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I loved books of all shapes and sizes, especially those written by Irish authors. They made me feel like there was a chance of my own dream coming true – that I would walk into my local bookshop and see a book with my name on the cover. In the last twenty years, we've seen an explosion of new Irish authors making their mark on the world of children’s literature. Don’t get me wrong, I adore leprechauns, and many of the classic Irish books that have been loved by previous generations. But there’s a crop of brand new Irish authors making some incredible work, and it’s time to give them some love!


I wrote...

The Case of the Phantom Treasure

By Nick Sheridan,

Book cover of The Case of the Phantom Treasure

What is my book about?

It's the school holidays in Snoops Bay, and Riz, Olly, Drew, and Anton are looking for their next adventure. When they decide to visit the town's most unremarkable tourist spot, Bony Beach, they're shocked to discover a long-lost shipwreck that sunk to the bottom of the sea with treasure aboard. But their exploration of the ruin is quickly thwarted when they come face to face with the phantom figure of the ship's captain, Horatio Huxley, and accidentally put a curse on Snoops Bay. Undeterred, our heroes vow to get to the bottom of the mystery once and for all. What kind of treasure is aboard the shipwreck? And who (or what) is so determined to keep it all for themselves?

A treasure hunt with a difference, fully illustrated by David O’Connell. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Benny and Omar

Nick Sheridan Why did I love this book?

Long before Artemis Fowl made Eoin Colfer a superstar, he wrote this laugh-out-loud and heart-breakingly beautiful story about a friendship between two boys from very different worlds.

When Benny’s family relocates to Tunisia, his world is turned upside down – before he meets a streetwise local called Omar on a moped. The two unlikely friends become firm allies, and together try to overcome obstacles that few kids will ever encounter in their lives.

This book is filled with Eoin’s brilliant and uniquely-Irish humour, and is one that I read and re-read until its spine fell apart!

The sequel Benny & Babe is also, in my opinion, an instant classic.

By Eoin Colfer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Benny and Omar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The hilarious debut novel from one of the world's favourite children's authors. Benny Shaw, a young sporting fanatic, is forced to leave his beloved Wexford, home of all his heroes, and move with his family to Tunisia! How will he survive in a place like this? Then he teams up with Omar, and a madcap friendship between the two boys leads to trouble, crazy escapades, a unique way of communicating, and heartbreaking challenges.


Book cover of The Great Irish Politics Book

Nick Sheridan Why did I love this book?

I’m super-passionate about giving young people the window into the world that they deserve – in fact, I wrote a whole book about journalism and fake news for kids.

David McCullagh, with this book, has flung that window wide open.

David will be familiar to Irish audiences as the anchor of the main evening news programme on RTE, but he’s managed to do the almost-impossible with this book. Namely: communicating the world of politics to kids in a way that doesn’t patronise or talk down to young people.

This beautifully-illustrated book explains some quite complicated concepts clearly with real-word examples and some excellent tongue-in-cheek humour.

I’ll be forcing it on my wee nephew as soon as he’s old enough!

By David McCullagh, Graham Corcoran (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Irish Politics Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Join political buff David McCullagh and illustrator Graham Corcoran as they guide you through all the things that make our country work. Why do we have a president and a Taoiseach? What is the Seanad and why can only some citizens vote in its elections? Who makes the rules for Ireland and how are they enforced? And what do we do if we want to change them?

Learn what it means to be a citizen and the positive role you can play by helping others, protecting what works and creating change in the world you live in.

The latest book…


Book cover of The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune

Nick Sheridan Why did I love this book?

Simply put: this book is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.

PJ is a world-renowned artist who turned his hand to writing with this period piece, set aboard the famous ship bound for the new world. I had the enormous privilege of visiting PJ’s studio in Dublin several years ago and fell in love with his artwork on the spot.

In a world of flashy, computer-rendered illustrations, PJ’s style is timelessly beautiful.

The simplicity of the story, paired with the epic scope of his artwork makes this book a constant pleasure to revisit over and over again.

By P.J. Lynch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

“This feast of a book . . . will captivate readers from its opening double-page spread. . . . Sweeping and grand, this personal take on a familiar story is an engaging success.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Leaving the docks of London on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Pilgrim John Carver, John Howland little knew that he was embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. By his great good fortune, John survived falling overboard on the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and he earned his keep ashore by helping to scout a safe harbor and landing site…


Book cover of My Heart & Other Breakables: How I lost my mum, found my dad, and made friends with catastrophe

Nick Sheridan Why did I love this book?

I’m a sucker for tongue-in-cheek humour, the sort of dry, straight-faced joke that is so skilfully woven into a narrative or a character’s personality that you’re almost not sure if it was meant to be funny.

Alex Barclay has that skill in truckloads, and uses it to tremendous effect in this book. It’s a ripping yarn about a young girl on the search for her dad – except, it’s about a lot more than that.

It embraces the absurd and the vividly real in equal measure, all told through the eyes of a beautifully-crafted main character.

I can’t think of another book like it – it is utterly, uniquely brilliant.

By Alex Barclay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Heart & Other Breakables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

The hilarious and deeply moving diary novel from bestselling author Alex Barclay - this might just be the funniest book ever to make you cry your eyes out.

This is the diary of me, Ellery Brown, aged fifteen and a half. I'm supposed to use it to record my feelings about my mum, since she died. So why do I keep thinking about who my dad might be, instead . . . ?

I have so much STUFF to think about - including a whole new life in Ireland. So why can I not stop thinking about my DAD? Especially…


Book cover of Girls Play Too: Inspiring Stories of Irish Sportswomen

Nick Sheridan Why did I love this book?

Back to the non-fiction shelf for my last pick – which is a whistle-stop tour through the Irish sportswomen who have achieved greatness, but perhaps not always the recognition that they deserve.

Jacqui Hurley and her crack squad of illustrators have curated a book full of brilliant role models for all the young women out there who dream of representing their county, their country, or even those who just need some inspiration to go out on the pitch and do their best.

It’s essential reading for any young sports fan, no matter who they are!

By Jacqui Hurley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Girls Play Too as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Irish sportswomen have been breaking the mould for a long time. From Maeve Kyle becoming Ireland’s first female Olympian in 1956, to motorsport pioneer Rosemary Smith breaking the land-speed record in 1978. Through the 1990s and 2000s we had world champions in Sonia O’Sullivan, Derval O’Rourke, and Olive Loughnane. More recently, the success of Katie Taylor, Kellie Harrington, and Annalise Murphy has kept Irish sportswomen on the global map. But amidst their success stories, the battle for recognition continues. Female athletes still receive only a small proportion of the media coverage their male counterparts receive. This book will break the…


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Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

Book cover of Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

Leslie Tall Manning Author Of Maggie's Dream

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Mentor Laugher Research nut Avid reader

Leslie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Winner of the Literary Titan Book Award

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family’s happiness.

But Marilyn’s quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by…

Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

What is this book about?

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family's happiness.

But Marilyn's quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by the courts as the new guardian. Caleb…


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Interested in Ireland, indentured servants, and athletes?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ireland, indentured servants, and athletes.

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