BookBenches painted with literary designs by Manchester schools and community groups will pop up across Manchester this summer, helping to spark a love of reading across the city.
58 benches shaped like open books will be on display at cultural venues across the city from 10 July until September, as part of the Read Manchester campaign from Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust, in partnership with Wild in Art.
Local families can discover the benches, inspired by the city’s favourite reads, with a special BookBench trail map, which they can pick up from their local library or venue taking part in the project. The map can also be downloaded here.
The BookBenches have all been painted by local schools and community groups, with designs including:
- ‘100 Years of Roald Dahl’s Wonders’, created by pupils at All Saints Church of England Primary School – this design was inspired by the books of Roald Dahl, who is a favourite author of pupils at the school
- ‘The Journey’, created by pupils at Heald Place Primary School – a bench inspired by the strength, courage and bravery of refugees around the world, which the pupils read about in The Journey by Francesca Sanna
- ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, created by pupils at St Luke's CE Primary School – this design is based on Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon series, one of the school’s favourite stories of bravery and overcoming adversity
- ‘Manchester's Secret Gardens’, created by Manchester College’s Supported Learning Department – this BookBench is inspired by Manchester-born Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden, as well as Manchester’s green spaces
24 cultural venues across Manchester will host BookBenches as part of the exhibition. A cluster of venues in the city centre includes Manchester Cathedral, the Manchester Arndale, the Royal Exchange Theatre and the National Football Museum.
Outside of the city centre, venues including the National Cycling Centre, the Lowry and Manchester Museum will have BookBenches on display. The venues will host their own literacy-themed events, including storytelling sessions and book swaps, throughout the summer. There will also be activities and resources at each location for families to complete.
The BookBench trail was officially opened at a launch event on 5 July. Held at the iconic The Stoller Hall in Manchester, schools, community groups and representatives from local cultural venues gathered together to celebrate the hard work and creativity that has gone into designing and decorating the BookBenches.
Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series and ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, said:
“I’m absolutely delighted that a Manchester school has been inspired to decorate their BookBench by How to Train Your Dragon. It’s so wonderful to hear pupils saying that the book has taught them that it’s what’s inside that counts. I hope that families in Manchester will have fun exploring the BookBench trail this summer and will be inspired to pick up a book and discover a love of reading."
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said:
“We are so excited to see the finished BookBenches created by talented local schoolchildren and community groups. Our research shows that reading for enjoyment has an important impact on how children do at school, and the amazing BookBench designs demonstrate that Manchester children have a real passion for reading!
“We’re encouraging families across the city to visit and enjoy the BookBenches over the summer – we hope you have fun discovering the benches and discussing the books which inspired them!”
Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council's lead member for schools, said:
"It's fantastic that we've been able to bring the BookBench trail to Manchester. The completed benches look amazing and really capture the energy and creativity of the city.
"We want everyone to understand the importance of reading for pleasure and the benefits it brings not just for children but also for adults. The BookBench trail is a great idea that we're hoping will inspire everyone to pick up a book and read it - to relax, escape, learn and be inspired."
Sally-Ann Wilkinson, Director of Wild in Art said:
“We’re delighted to be working with Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust to bring BookBenches to the city. Every decorated bench tells a special story and, together with a jam-packed summer of book-themed events and activities, we hope they encourage all generations to pick up a book and get reading.”
The Read Manchester campaign is run in partnership by Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust, and promotes reading for enjoyment through a programme of activities and events.