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News story

We launch Read Manchester BookBench trail

05 Jul 2017

Bookbench exhibition

We are delighted to launch an exciting new BookBench trail, as part of our Read Manchester campaign with Manchester City Council.

58 benches shaped like open books will be on display at cultural venues across Manchester from Monday 10 July until September. The BookBenches have been decorated by local schools and community groups, with designs inspired by reading. Many of the schools also took part in our Reading for Pleasure CPD training.

The project is delivered in partnership with Wild in Art, who we worked with on Books about Town in summer 2014 and the Big Read in Birmingham in 2016.

The Read Manchester BookBench designs include:

  • ‘100 Years of Roald Dahl’s Wonders’, created by pupils at All Saints Church of England Primary School – based on 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 – 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 – 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 – inspired by Manchester-born Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden, as well as Manchester’s green spaces

24 venues across Manchester will host BookBenches - 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 include the National Cycling Centre, the Lowry and Manchester Museum.

Local residents and families can discover the benches 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 from  

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 today (5 July). Held at the iconic The Stoller Hall in Manchester, schools, community groups and representatives from the participating venues gathered together to celebrate the hard work and creativity that has gone into designing and decorating the BookBenches.

Our ambassador Cressida Cowell 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.”

Our Director Jonathan Douglas 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!”

We run the Read Manchester campaign in partnership by Manchester City Council to promote reading for enjoyment across the city through a programme of activities and events.

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