Pictured are Annalise Southworth, 6 and Riley Southworth, 5.

An academic from Edge Hill University has been involved in a unique project in Chorley town centre to inspire children to read for pleasure.

In its sixth year, the What’s Your Story, Chorley? festival provided literary fun for all the family, and from 2017, has included the book bench trail, which was run by Edge Hill’s Sylvia Crowder, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education English.

Co-ordinated by Sylvia, 10 local primary schools designed and decorated themed benches to look like a book, and they were dotted around Chorley town centre for people to find. Student involvement included working with children to design web pages, with information about the book and authors, which can be accessed through QR codes on 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.

On the day of the event, Edge Hill students dressed up as characters from children’s books and ran different children’s activities including Kite decorating, making hot air balloons from paper plates and reading stories aloud. They also helped Sylvia in supporting children to decorate the community bench.

Pictured is Sylvia Crowder with her daughter Ruth Crowder.

“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,” said Sylvia. “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.”

“I first became involved with the book bench project when I visited London during their ‘Books about Town’ project and I saw how enthusiastic the children and parents were and how they loved talking about the books,” said Sylvia. “I decided that I really wanted to do something similar in my home town.

“Myself and my colleague Elizabeth Dunn approached Chorley Council as we felt the project would fit well with their What’s Your Story Chorley? event where children and families have chance to meet authors, listen to poetry, stories and watch dramatic presentations. They were enthusiastic and now the project is in its third year.”

Click here for more information about Edge Hill’s Primary Education courses.