What an action-packed 10 days its 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 by Martin Trepte, former Advertiser Editor and James Preston, current Advertiser Editor at Maidenhead Heritage Centre. 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 encouraged to 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. 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...
This year's Maidenhead's Big Read started with a fascinating and amusing presentation by The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, who talked about the books she loved reading as a child and the ones that capture her imagination now.
It turns our our former Prime Minister is a bit of a fan of crime and thrillers... she loves trying to work out who the killer might be before she reaches the end of the book and firmly believes that "there is nothing like losing yourself in a good book".
Mrs May commented that books give tremendous joy and the ability to learn so much. You can learn all about history when reading Dickens for example; and we should all be proud of the rich literary history we have in our country from the classics such as Emma and Pride & Prejudice, all the way to modern literature from the likes of J.K. Rowling.
Throughout her life she has enjoyed reading the classics and shared with the audience that her most favourite book of all time is Pride & Prejudice. She loved how Jane Austin captured the time period but also the verbal interplay between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. "Elizabeth is a feisty young woman able to match Mr Darcy linguistically and stand her own ground. It inspires me to consider my own use of our fantastic language", she commented.
As a child her most favourite book was The Wool-Pack, a historical novel written and illustrated by Cynthia Harnett. Set in the Cotswolds near Burford, Oxfordshire, The Wool-Pack begins in 1493 when Nicholas Fetterlock, the twelve-year-old son of a rich wool merchant, learns from his father that he is betrothed to Cecily Bradshaw, the daughter of a rich cloth merchant. Nicholas discovers villainy within the guild: swindlers who may ruin his father's business, at least. Nicholas, Cecily, and a friend determine to stop them.
Mrs May is currently reading Mill on the Floss and also takes time to enjoy books about cricket, recipe books and books that teach her new things on a range of topics; obviously interspersed with crime thrillers and the classics!
Mrs May ended by saying "I enjoy reading, it gives me great pleasure. I want to see more young people reading books, don't lose yourself on social media, lose yourself in a good book. Allow yourself to enter a different world that a great book can take you to. Get your imagination fired up, learn from it and be entertained".
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 Grufalo, 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
Maidenhead Community Book Festival, organisers of Maidenhead’s Big Read, are pleased to announce that Dame Katherine Grainger has been appointed as the group’s first official patron.
Dame Katherine was the first British woman to win medals at five successive games, with Olympic silver at Rio 2016, gold at London 2012 to add to her silver medals from Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008, as well as six-time world championships titles in her collection. She serves as an ambassador, patron and board member to a selection of charities and sporting bodies and this was recognised when, to round off an exceptional 20 year career in sport, she became Dame Katherine Grainger in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List for services to sport and charity.
Dame Katherine Grainger commented “I was delighted when asked to be patron of Maidenhead’s Big Read. Ever since I was a small child, books have given me huge pleasure and I can’t imagine life without the joy of reading. Sometimes I feel my house will sink under the weight of all the books in it. The Big Read is an exciting venture and its variety of events offers something of interest and enjoyment to everyone in our community. It deserves to be well supported and I’m absolutely sure it will be.”
Stephan Stephan, Chairman of Maidenhead’s Big Read commented “We cannot thank Dame Katherine Grainger enough for becoming our Patron. Her passion for everything she does, her drive and determination is infectious and as an accomplished author who is passionate about reading, Dame Grainger was the obvious choice to become our Patron.”
Maidenhead's Big Read, organised by Maidenhead Community Book Festival, will run from Saturday 29th February to Sunday 8th March 2020 and includes a whole host of exciting events and activities including Story Telling, author and illustrator interactive events and talks in town; drop in book reading groups, reading to/with a volunteer events, pop-up book shops and book exchanges in the library and Nicholsons Shopping Centre, and these are all complementary to what our local schools are planning. All of which are free to attend, though pre-booking is recommended.
Stephan continued “We want to get everyone in Maidenhead excited about literature, literacy and creativity whilst giving them the tools to create their futures because we believe that everyone can live their dreams through the power of reading and that the future is theirs to write.”
On Friday, 11th October, the Desborough Suite in Maidenhead was full of excited young writers, keen to hone their poetry writing skills as part of Maidenhead’s Big Write, a project run by Maidenhead’s Big Read. The poet, Coral Rumble, led the day, while members of Maidenhead’s Big Read organising team provided practical support.
The day was full of interactive fun and writing by Years 5 & 6 pupils, leading to a performance of the written poems in the afternoon, when family members of the children and their teachers were invited to come and watch. The participating schools were St Mary’s, Waltham St Lawrence, Cookham Dean, Woodlands Park, St Luke’s and Holyport.
Coral commented, “I’m thrilled with how today has gone. There was a constant buzz in the theatre from beginning to end; a productive buzz that never became destructive!”
It is hoped that this will be the inaugural Big Write, and that many other local school children will be able to experience a day of writing freedom, exploration and recital in the coming years.
Stephan Stephan, Chairman of Maidenhead’s Big Read commented “The schools, and the parents, have much reason to be proud of the excellent behaviour and creative focus of their children. It was amazing to see the originality in the room and we hope this has sparked the imaginations of all the children that attended; encouraging them to read more and write innovative pieces”.
This event is just one of many organised by Maidenhead’s Big Read whose aim is to increasing reading, the love of reading and associated wellbeing in our community among the young and old whilst at the same time improve the attainment of children in our schools, bring families and neighbours together to share books, stories and activities.
The organising team are currently busy planning the next Maidenhead Big Read 10-day festival that will take over the town centre from 28th February to 8th March 2020. To be kept up to date with all the latest and be the first to know when tickets are released for this next event, keep an eye on the website here: www.maidenheads-big-read.org.uk
Stephan continued to say, “We are very thankful to the National Lottery Awards for All, Louis Baylis Trust and Spoors Merry Rixman who were our most generous grant-givers for The Big Read, and this special event, enabling us to continue to bring reading to life as personal development for all. We are also very grateful for the support from RBWM and Coral Rumble”.
Following on from the very successful Big Read’s Town Vote, organisers of Maidenhead's Big Read that took place in March this year, held The Great Discussion on Saturday 15th June from 2pm to 4pm at Maidenhead Library in St Ives Road.
The fun, interactive session gave kids big and small the chance to talk about the best bits of the well-loved Roald Dahl classic, The Twits. Led by Fenella Reekie, Head Teacher at Cookham Dean, and supported by Jeanette Kemp from the Maidenhead Library team, it was one fun-filled afternoon of sharing.
The session started with a whole group discussion about the book and Roald Dahl, where attendees shared their best bits from the book and what they liked about it, a particular favourite part among the children was when Mr. Twit hid a frog in his wife's bed and when Mrs. Twit tricked her husband into eating worms in his spaghetti!
The children then did some interactive sessions including learning how to make an origami fox to represent another of Roald Dahl’s books, Fantastic Mr Fox. They also explored various props including spaghetti, a chicken, an apple to work out which of Roald Dahl’s they were linked to and why.
Stephan Stephan, Chairman of Maidenhead’s Big Read commented “Feedback from the children and parents has been excellent and they have asked for more sessions just like this. It was wonderful to see the children so animated and eagerly sharing their love of this book and their love of reading. This is exactly what we were hoping for, sharing the love of reading and bringing books to life”.
This event is just one of many organised by Maidenhead’s Big Read. In addition to taking part at Maidenhead Festival (20th & 21st Juy) and the Maidenhead Town Show on 14th September, the team are busy planning another “Audience with…” event for adults to take place in the Autumn and will announce who that author will be in the not too distant future. To be kept up to date with all the latest and be the first to know when tickets are released for this next event, keep an eye on the website here: www.maidenheads-big-read.org.uk
Stephan continued to say, “We are very thankful to the National Lottery Awards for All and Spoors Merry Rixman who were our most generous grant-givers for The Big Read, and this special event, enabling us to continue to bring reading to life for all. We are also very grateful for the support from Jeannette Kemp and Headteacher Fenella Reekie”.
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.