Basketball players, bosses, actors, park wardens – and even a llama – joined children and adults across the city this week to take part in Read Manchester’s challenge to ‘drop everything and read’ for ten minutes in a bid to help improve literacy levels and feelings of well-being.
Everyone in Manchester was encouraged to join in by reading at the same time on Thursday – which was also National Poetry Day – in their homes, schools, or workplaces, and show their support by posting on social media using #ReadMCR.
Pupils, teachers and employees from local businesses joined the Lord Mayor of Manchester Eddy Newman, Chief Executive of the Council Joanne Roney, and the Strategic Lead for Libraries Culture and Leisure Neil MacInnes, in St Peter’s Square on the day to read and enjoy poems, magazines, newspapers and more.
The challenge was also supported by other businesses and individuals who couldn’t make it to the square but took time out where they were to stop what they were doing and have a short read.
The Manchester Giants, staff from the Royal Exchange Theatre, the cast of Uncle Vanya at HOME, leisure centre staff, litter pickers, wardens from Heaton Park, and even a llama all paused for ten minutes and rose to the reading challenge.
The event was part of the Read Manchester campaign from Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust. Read Manchester promotes reading for enjoyment through a year-long programme of activities and aims to raise literacy levels in the city.
The ‘drop everything and read’ challenge was supported by research which shows that reading for as little as just ten minutes every day has an important impact on how well a child does at school. Evidence also show that reading can help adults to relax, relieves stress, and improves empathy.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: “Literacy levels have been steadily improving across the city over the last few years but we want to improve them still further.
“Reading for pleasure is key to helping with this, and I’m calling on everyone, young and old, to join me and give it a go by taking ten minutes out of their day – every day- to stop what they’re doing, pick up a book, a newspaper, or whatever else they’ve got to hand and just read.
“It’s not just about improving literacy skills – all the research shows that ten minutes is all it can take to help you relax, slow down, and help relieve stress by focusing on what you’re reading instead of any external pressures.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “When it comes to reading, we know that little and often is best and can have a huge impact on both children and adults.”