Book bench project encourages Chorley’s children to read for enjoyment

Edge Hill University has supported the hugely successful book bench project in Chorley town centre by creating a book bench trail to inspire children and their parents to start reading for pleasure.

The What’s Your Story, Chorley? Festival provides literary fun for all the family and includes the book bench trail, which is run by Edge Hill’s Sylvia Crowder, senior lecturer in primary education English.

Co-ordinated by Sylvia, 12 local primary schools are given the fun task of designing and decorating themed benches that are shaped like books. The benches are then dotted around Chorley town centre for people to find and learn about.

Sylvia said: “Research has consistently shown that reading for enjoyment has a significant positive impact on children’s progress, not only in literacy but across the curriculum. We believe that decorating book benches with scenes and characters from stories is a great way to encourage young people to read more widely and enjoy what they read.

“Since Edge Hill began the book bench trail we’ve seen the project grow in popularity every year and I always hear from many Chorley residents who can’t wait to see what the schools involved have come up with. I’ve also seen first-hand the conversations that the benches spark between children and their parents who start talking about their favourite books, characters and authors, often for the first time.”

Edge Hill students studying education have been involved in working with the children to design web pages, with information about the book and authors, which can be accessed through QR codes printed on all the benches.

The benches also had a trail quiz, which was designed by the school children, with a little help from Primary Education students at Edge Hill.

Eleanor Haeford who is studying BA (Hons) primary education with QTS said: “I visited St George’s Primary School to see their progress on the bench. While I was there, I spoke to the children about what their favourite things about the books were and help them create posters based on what they said. I then used the posters to create a website for the school’s book bench.

“It really helped me develop my knowledge of how to encourage reading for pleasure and gave me the experience of how to incorporate books into the classroom. It was a fantastic opportunity to be part of.”

One of the schools involved in the book bench project is St James C E Primary School who have created a bench every year since it began.

St James headteacher Claire Greenway said: “We’ve really enjoyed being a part of the book bench project and all the children involved get a lot out of creating the benches. The children decide which book they want the bench to be about and then do all their own research to come up with ideas for drawings on the bench.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to learn more about books in a fun, interactive way and you can see that it brings the books and characters to life in a way that many of the children haven’t considered before.”

Over the weekend of 24 April, Edge Hill staff helped give out books at stalls on Chorley high street. The books on offer were part funded by the university and included different options for all ages.

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