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.