read mcr bookbench

Read Manchester BookBenches spark a love of reading

In summer 2017 Manchester became home to a trail of iconic BookBenches by schools and community groups in a drive to get the city reading and improve literacy levels.

We worked with Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust to raise awareness of the Read Manchester campaign, a year-long programme of activities to encourage more children and adults across the city to enjoy reading and raise awareness of its power to transform lives.

Reading for pleasure

Research conducted by the National Literacy Trust at the start of the campaign showed that two thirds (66.4%) of pupils in Manchester enjoyed reading, but highlighted room for improvement in reading habits and attitudes.

The survey of over 5,000 8 to 18-year-olds from 60 schools found that just 38.7% of children and young people in Manchester read outside class every day and almost a third (32.8%) only read when they have to.

The trust’s research shows the important impact that reading for pleasure can have on children and young people’s attainment. Pupils who enjoy reading very much are three times more likely to read above the level expected for their age, compared to those who don’t enjoy reading at all.

Literary designs

Local schools and community groups ranging from primary schools, to Manchester College’s Supported Learning Department, and a group of prisoners at HMP Manchester painted BookBenches with designs inspired by their favourite stories.

Teachers had the opportunity to take part in professional development training around reading for enjoyment from the National Literacy Trust. It aligned to the process of decorating a BookBench and included training on choosing and using whole texts, engaging with research and creating a community of readers in a school.

Inspiring a city of readers

Fifty-eight benches shaped like open books were on display at cultural venues including Manchester Cathedral, the Manchester Arndale, the Royal Exchange Theatre and the National Football Museum. The National Cycling Centre, the Lowry and Manchester Museum also had BookBenches on display and all venues hosted their own literacy-themed events, including storytelling sessions and book swaps.

Local families could discover the benches, inspired by the city’s favourite reads, with a special BookBench trail map, which they could pick up from their local library or venue taking part in the project.

“It was wonderful to take part in a whole school project which combined many areas of the curriculum in one package. The response of the children was phenomenal!” Primary school teacher and English Lead

“Exciting, inspiring, inclusive.” Learning Officer, Manchester Central Library