Trail booked in! 16 July until 13 September

The Big Read BookBench trail will take place from 16 July until 13 September 2016 and launch at star-studded CBBC Awesome Authors weekend in Birmingham.

Over 170 BookBench sculptures, decorated by young people in the West Midlands as part of The Big Read, a unique arts project to promote literacy development, will be on public display in Birmingham and beyond from 16 July until 13 September this summer.

The free Big Read trail will officially open during CBBC’s jam-packed Awesome Authors 1_16 JulyAwesome Authors weekend at the Library of Birmingham and Centenary Square on Saturday 16 July and Sunday 17 July. A number of BookBenches will take centre stage in children’s workshops and will be on display at the event, which will also feature some of the UK’s best-loved authors including Dame Jacqueline Wilson, and CBBC’s biggest stars.

For eights weeks over the summer, benches shaped as open books, individually designed by nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and community groups in the region, will be exhibited inside libraries, galleries, museums, cultural venues and book shops. There is also a whole host of literary-themed events and activities taking place around the displays to spark everybody’s interest in reading and writing.

Locations for the summer-long BookBench displays are widespread: Birmingham city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods, Solihull, Walsall, Sandwell and Coventry, with venues including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Library of Birmingham, Grand Central, Waterstones, Foyles, Sarehole Mill, The Core and Coventry Central Library to name a few. To see the full list of BookBench display venues, please see here.

Pupils design their BookbenchA free trail and activities map showing the locations of the BookBench displays and highlighting what’s on at the venues will be available to pick up at various outlets. It will also be available to download from the website.

The Big Read trail will conclude on Tuesday 13 September to coincide with Roald Dahl Day, the biggest ever-global celebration of Roald Dahl’s birthday. The BookBenches will then be returned to the schools and community groups that created them, to become a lasting feature of a library, book corner or outside learning environment.

The Big Read aims to inspire literacy development in the region by celebrating young people and their creativity. It has been created by Wild in Art and co-presented by The Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham and Wesleyan, in association with the National Literacy Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

Ben Reed, Development Director at Wild in Art, said: “Every decorated BookBench tells a special story and, together with a jam-packed summer of book-themed events and activities, we hope The Big Read encourages all generations to rekindle their passion for reading and writing.

Along with our partners, supporters and venues, and of course all the fantastic schools and community groups uniting visual art and reading for enjoyment, we’re over the moon to be able to share so many wonderful designs with the region’s residents and visitors.”

Joe Godwin, Director of the BBC in the Midlands, said: “We’re very excited to be welcoming CBBC Live to the city, for our audiences in Birmingham to get up close and personal to some of their favourite programmes. Awesome Authors aims to excite children about reading, creative writing and storytelling, and so dovetails perfectly with The Big Read.

“The BookBenches are a fantastic project to capture young imaginations.  All of the benches on display at CBBC Live will be relocated to BBC Birmingham’s public space at the Mailbox for the summer where everyone is welcome to come along and see.”

Denis Ramplin, Director of Marketing and Communications at The Schools of King Edward VI, added: “Not only is it 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, it’s also 150 years since Beatrix Potter was born, the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth and 400 years since the death of playwright William Shakespeare.

“With all of these anniversaries this year, together with The Big Read and Awesome Authors in town, 2016 is clearly the year of the book!”

Liz McKenzie, Chief Operating Officer at Wesleyan and chair of its Charity Advisory Committee, said: “Reading is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It can educate and entertain, ground you in reality or whisk you off into a fantastical adventure.

“We hope everyone in Birmingham, and, indeed, further afield, enjoys the BookBench Trail and takes a moment to sit down on one of them, pull out a book and enjoy the pleasure of reading, whether it’s an old favourite or a new discovery.”

Miranda Williams, Public Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, added: “We are delighted to be the charity partner for The Big Read. Not only is the project a wonderful celebration of literacy, art and creativity, but it also encourages people, young and old, to get active and walk the trail of BookBenches as well as raise much-needed funds for our hospital.”

 Follow The Big Read on Twitter @The_Big_Read, using the hashtag #TheBigRead2016 and on Facebook

Photography by Daniel Graves with Wheelers Lane Primary School and Yardley Wood Community Primary School.