What an action-packed 10 days it's been for this years' Maidenhead's Big Read. Literary events, reading, illustrating and the simple joy of getting lost in a book have been enjoyed by all throughout the town.
Not only did we drop everything and read at 10am on World Book Day, children were also treated to a special visit on Saturday 7th March by Zog, one of Julia Donaldson's much-loved characters. He was a very friendly dragon giving out high-fives and hugs, and he even blended in well with the Big Read volunteers!
On Friday 6th guests enjoyed the an informative talk at the Maidenhead Heritage Centre by Martin Trepte, former Advertiser Editor and James Preston, current Advertiser Editor. The talk gave a glimpse into Maidenhead's past through the Advertiser's photographic archives as a celebration of its 150 years serving the local community. 200 pages of history, starting in the 1860's.
Saturday kicked off with Coral Rumble who gave a high-energy, interactive session, where everyone was encouraged to interact with poems and simple stories. In addition to some poems, Coral read extracts from her storybooks, 'The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat' and 'Mustafa's Jumper'.
At 11am we were treated to a musical interlude courtesy of New Maidenhead Choir, where passers by were offered sheets to encourage them to read and join in, or simply stop and enjoy the music!
Next up was Space Stories - the first child Astronaut with author Sue Palmer. Guests got to hear about Michael May who wanted to be the first child astronaut. They got to hear about his attempt to follow his dreams and learn about real life astronaut training and what's going on in space right now.
We closed Saturday with a unique and interesting talk from the past, entitled The Early Dark Ages - Where History Meets Legend with Tim Walker. He presented his award-winning historical book series, A Light in the Dark Ages, and described how he researched the post-Roman period and his efforts to find evidence of a real historical Arthur hidden behind the legend.
The last day of this years' Big Read kicked off with a very popular talk linked with climate changed entitled "Rubbish, Plastic and Waste: Global Environmental Issues" with Leysa Henderson. During her workshop Lysa touched on the global issues that inspired her to write her books, focusing on rainforests, endangered species and the global impact we as human beings are having on the planet.
We finished with a magical story telling session with Ruth Humphreys who shared her interactive magical tales and original stories all focusing on how to build self esteem, encourage cooperation and kindness.
We have had an amazing 10-days and cannot thank all the authors and presenters enough for giving up their time and sharing their passions with hundreds of people in the town, and to our Sponsors without whom we could not have held this festival. A massive thank you to everyone who came and took part, we hope we have enthused and inspired you to read more and share books with your children, family and friends.
Here's to next year...
What a fantastic first weekend we've just had at the 2020 Maidenhead's Big Read, as the photos below show!
Visitors to this years event were treated to so many different activities including a word search treasure hunt around town, writing down their best jokes for the joke corner, investigating books in the onsite book swap and taking time out to read with our wonderful volunteers.
In addition we were also treated to a visit by not just Bookstart Bear, but also Highway Rat who joined in our storytelling sessions in Maidenhead Library and around the simply magical reading tree located in the Nicholsons Shopping Centre.
Event organisers were also thrilled by the huge number of entries into the poster competition, all of which can be viewed in the Inspiration Theatre inside the Nicholsons Shopping Centre... see if you can spot the winning entries proudly displaying their rosettes!
Once Upon a Bus were also parked at the top of the High Street so that young Maidonians could experience the magic of storytelling, bringing stories come to life. Stories included The Gruffalo, Alice in Wonderland, Aliens in Underpants and many others fun stories.
An array of authors and illustrators enthused and inspired young and old in the Inspiration Theatre, and included:
And that's just the first weekend, there are so many events still left to enjoy so check out the full programme and book your place today - click here
A new festival to encourage a love of reading in Maidenhead is set to launch this spring.
Maidenhead’s Big Read is the brainchild of Stephan Stephan who, in his capacity as a Rotary member, has co-ordinated reading volunteers in schools for the last 10 years.
The event will take place from Saturday, March 2 to Sunday, March 17 in communal spaces in the town and schools and is aimed at both children and adults alike.
Stephan said: “My passion is about children reading because if a child doesn’t read fluently by the time they finish primary school, they struggle for the rest of their lives.”
Stephan believes most book festivals celebrate an enjoyment of reading rather than present an opportunity to nurture this interest in more reluctant readers.
He recognises that ‘some people don’t have time to read at home’ but thinks that parents can play a vital role in fostering reading for pleasure. ABC to Read, a charity that helps Berkshire children to read, will be holding sessions with parents about how to engage their children with the activity.
Over the three weekends of the festival, Stephan is hoping to have storytelling project Once Upon a Bus and the mobile library in the High Street.
A book-swap shop will also be open throughout the festival and occupy two vacant shop spaces in the Nicholson’s Centre. It will be a place to listen to stories being read as well as taking a pew in the soft seating and picking up a book, magazine, comic or newspaper.
It is hoped that there will be some book giveaways and competitions and Usborne Books will have a pop-up shop in town every weekend and pitch up at schools during the week.