Hot on the heels of the Manchester Children's Book Festival comes another great reason for young book lovers to head into the city centre this summer.
As part of Read Manchester, a project from Manchester City Council and the National Literary Trust which aims to promote reading and increase literacy amongst youngsters, 58 benches have been placed throughout Manchester. The benches, which are shaped like open books, have been decorated by various local community groups and schools from around the Manchester area. The hope is that the benches will give with the opportunity for families to sit down and share a story together, and ultimately encourage young people to develop a passion for reading.
There are plenty of designs to awake the imagination of young readers. No doubt benches based on best-selling children's books such as How to Train Your Dragon, Roald Dahl characters and the Mr Men books will be popular, but there are more thought-provoking offerings too.
Pupils at St Peter's CE Primary School have looked at how books such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland can help the reader to enter parallel worlds, whereas Heald Place Primary School pupils have dedicated theirs to the bravery, strength and courage shown by refugees around the world. The exhibition offers a brilliant chance to talk to your children about how stories can shape our own lives and also help us to share in the experiences of others.
The Greatest Story Ever Told, created by Holy Trinity C.E. Primary School
The BookBench trail has already launched in Manchester, so if you're longing to take part, download your trail map here. Some are located in the city centre, but they can also be found at other cultural venues in the Manchester area as well. Thankfully, they're going to remain in place until September, providing a perfect summer holiday activity for young families everywhere. Nothing beats a treasure hunt to keep little ones occupied, and you might even get to have a well-deserved break at some of them too.
To help celebrate the exhibition, there are various events being held at BookBench Venues throughout the summer as well. Some of the exciting events to look forward to include:
Book Swap at the Royal Exchange
Every Wednesday from 5th July – 16th August, 12-4pm
Got a bunch of old books that you don't need? Pop along and swap them for something you haven't read yet.
Storytelling session at The Disney Store (Manchester Arndale)
Saturday 8th July (11am-5pm), and Saturday 5th August and Saturday 26th August (3pm-5pm)
Calling all princes and princesses. Head to the Disney Store for a magical storytelling event and enjoy the wonderful tale of Beauty and the Beast.
Storytelling event at the LEGO store (Manchester Arndale)
Saturday 15th July and Saturday 12th August, 11am-1pm
Head to the LEGO store in Manchester Arndale for some
storytelling and hands-on fun as youngsters get to create with LEGO@CITY Jungle Explorers.
A BookBench dedicated to children's author Roald Dahl created by All Saints C.E. Primary School
Explore Manchester Museum's Storyland and pop into the story tent which is filled with books, or perform stories in the puppet theatre.
Sing a Song With a Songwriter at The People's History Museum
Wednesday 9th August, 1pm-3pm
Learn to express yourself through song at this fun workshop, les by singer-songwriter Matt Hill (Quiet Loner). Make some noise, sing some songs and learn all about rhyme.
Creative Football Writing Workshop at the National Football Museum
Thursday 10th August, 11.30am-2.30pm
Join in with this fun writing workshop led by Matt Oldfield, one of the men behind the Football Heroes book series. Children will find out what they need to know about their footballing heroes, how to use words creatively and to share their accounts. Participants will also have the chance to make their very own footballing poster to take home.
Under the Rainbow at The People's History Museum
Tuesday 15th August, 11am – 12 noon
A fun interactive story-telling session about a little girl called Matilda who is given a magic rainbow bag.
Children's Storytelling and Troll Trail at Manchester Cathedral
15th,18th and 19th August, 11am – 12.30pm
Local author Alice Sargent will be coming along to read from her first children's book, The Troll of Manchester Cathedral. What better place to hear it than from under the historic 15th Century Hanging Bridge, which features in the story.
If Music Be the Food of Love...Books Must Bee (Created by Archives and Central Library)
As you can see, there's lots going on to inspire Manchester families this summer, and there's even more events listed on the Literacy Trust website. So what are you waiting for? Get hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favour.