The Big Read is a Wild in Art creative education event brought to you by presenting partner The Schools of King Edward VI and Wesleyan, in association with the National Literacy Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.
About Wild in Art
The Big Read features Wild in Art’s BookBench sculpture designed by Chris Wilkinson, Wild in Art’s Creative Director, and also provides unique art education resources which engage and inspire young people and enhance learning across the curriculum.
From parades of elephants in Melbourne and crashes of rhinos in Sydney, to BookBenches in London and Commonwealth Games Clyde mascots in Glasgow, Wild in Art events have animated cities and enthralled people the world over, raising over £8m for charity partners along the way.
Sally-Ann Wilkinson, Director at Wild in Art, said: “The Big Read will inspire generations to rekindle their passion for reading and writing, whilst enabling teachers, parents and communities to build upon the skills required to promote literacy in a way that is fun, engaging and inclusive of all individuals. Birmingham has produced some of the world’s most celebrated writers – let’s continue writing history!”
About The Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham
Denis Ramplin, Director of Marketing and Communications at The Schools of King Edward VI, said: “We were delighted to be the Educational Sponsor of The Big Hoot and following its great success, we are now extremely excited to be the Presenting Partner for The Big Read. We hope to continue to build and develop our relationships with more primary schools across the city with this unique literacy initiative.
“The BookBench sculpture will provide further opportunities for young children to display their artistic ability with their inspiration coming from reading books, discovering characters and using their imagination on a project that will assist with the improvement of literacy across the City.”
Wesleyan is a financial mutual providing specialist products and services to doctors, dentists, lawyers and teachers. It was founded in Birmingham in 1841 and will be celebrating its 175th anniversary throughout 2016.
Between 2013 and 2014 Wesleyan raised more than £254,000 for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Centre Appeal. Since then it has raised a further £368,000 for the hospital’s Magnolia House Appeal, making it by far the largest corporate donor to the hospital.
One of the key fundraising activities has been the publication of its own children’s book, ‘The Unstoppable Maggie McGee’ in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Inspired by real patients and their families and set in a children’s hospital, it is a story of hope, friendship and the power of imagination, and has received rave reviews from patients, parents and even the former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman. Thousands of copies have already been sold so far, with EVERY penny from the sales goes to the hospital, which is unique for a fundraising book of this kind.
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.”
About the National Literacy Trust
The National Literacy Trust is an independent charity that transforms lives through literacy. One person in six in the UK is held back by poor literacy skills which compromise employability, health, confidence and happiness. All proceeds allow us to improve reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in communities where poverty is increasing and where literacy levels are low. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy and drive our interventions. We campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents and we provide schools with resources to transform their literacy teaching through our Network.
National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said: “Decorating BookBenches with characters from their favourite stories is a great way to inspire children to read more books. Reading often for enjoyment will help pupils to succeed in all their subjects and beyond their school days. Our research shows that teachers recognise the importance of literacy across the curriculum but they need more support to fulfil the literacy requirements of the new National Curriculum. High quality training is essential to help teachers to improve literacy across the school with the BookBenches as a focal point.”
About Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity
Delivering some of the most advanced treatments, complex surgical procedures and cutting edge research and development, the hospital treats one in five children in Birmingham and one in eight children from across the West Midlands.
Every patient and family at Birmingham Children’s Hospital will have been touched by the hospital’s charity in some way. Whether that is a newly refurbished playroom or ward, a state-of-the-art piece of equipment or even a toy at Christmas. But the impact of fundraising on patient experience is much more than purely financial – it makes a real difference to the services provided to children and their families during difficult times.
Louise McCathie, Director of Fundraising for Birmingham Children’s Hospital said: “We are delighted to be involved with The Big Read. The project will be a wonderful celebration of literacy, art and creativity and will also give schools the opportunity to make a real difference to the life of our hospital by raising much-needed funds.”