Manchester children set to catch the reading buzz this summer

12 Jul 2018
Workshop at Central Library 3 - photo by David Oates.jpg

Children across Manchester will be inspired to fall in love with reading and writing over the upcoming summer holidays, thanks to a literacy-focused challenge and creative writing competition from the Read Manchester campaign and Bee in the City

Last year, Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust teamed up with Wild in Art to bring a trail of colourful BookBenches to the city as part of the Read Manchester campaign.

This summer, Read Manchester is a learning partner for Wild in Art and Manchester City Council’s new public art event, Bee in the City. Children and families can get involved in the unique Bee a Reader initiative, which forms a key part of the Bee in the City learning programme.

Bee a Reader uses the buzz of the bee sculptures to inspire Manchester families to read for 10 minutes a day and help to avoid the summer learning loss that many pupils experience over the school holidays. It comprises:

  • The Bee a Reader Challenge, which encourages children and families to take part in a series of literacy activities such as signing up to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge, finding a bee on the Bee in the City trail and swapping a book with a friend or sibling. Every child who completes the challenge can pick up a free book at their local library.
  • A creative writing competition, which calls on buzzing young writers aged between 7 and 16 to write up to 500 words on the topic of “a day in the life of a Manchester bee”. Prizes include a family train ticket to London, Lowry Outlet vouchers and a variety of books.
  • A series of Bee a Reader events at Manchester libraries, which will give young people the chance to take part in bee-themed craft activities with artists involved in Bee in the City.

130 schools and youth groups have designed and decorated unique 3D bee sculptures which will be displayed in ‘swarms’ inside culture and leisure venues across Manchester over the summer. Seven bees have been decorated by library groups and 14 sculptures will be displayed at Manchester Central Library, including a unique Read Manchester bee. These smaller bees will join an outdoor trail of over 100 super-sized bees decorated by professional artists and sponsored by businesses, which launches later this month.

The Bee in the City learning programme was celebrated on Wednesday 4 July with the Hive of Creativity festival at venues hosting bees across Manchester. At Central Library, primary school pupils were treated to a number of activities to inspire them to ‘Bee a Reader’ including creating bookmarks and a reading diaries.

Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said:
“Bee in the City is a perfect opportunity to engage children in literacy-boosting activities over the summer holidays. We hope that the excitement surrounding the bee sculptures and the Bee a Reader activities will inspire families to read together and champion reading, helping to improve the city’s literacy levels.”

Ben Reed, Head of Creative Development at Wild in Art, said:
“Bee in the City is all about celebrating and encouraging creativity in everyone. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Read Manchester for the Bee a Reader Challenge; it’s the perfect way to get children and families to delve into their imaginations and get reading over the summer holidays. We can’t wait to read the entries of the creative writing competition and see what the young people of Manchester make of the Bees!”

National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said:
“After the success of the BookBench trail last summer, we are delighted to be working with Wild in Art again by incorporating reading into the exciting Bee in the City project. We hope the Bee a Reader Challenge and creative writing competition will inspire children to continue to read and write over the school holidays, helping them to return to class in September refreshed whilst ready to learn and succeed.”