Books open to meet the One Million Reads challenge

Published Friday, 19 March 2021

One million reads in a year – that’s the exciting target for city book fans after Coventry Libraries and Information Service won an Arts Council Award for £97,000.

The One Million Reads Coventry (OMRC) project is just one part of an amazing programme of events as the Library Service links up with Coventry City of Culture Trust.

OMRC is an ambitious multi-faceted programme from Coventry Libraries & Information Service, placing reading and libraries at the heart of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

It will connect the people and communities of Coventry with the joy and pleasure of reading, using literature to spark the imagination, offering opportunities to share stories of the city, lives, and experiences. The programme will be full of adventure encompassing a variety of art forms, cultural experiences and techniques which will have a lasting legacy and impact on reading across the city.

The Arts Council Award will also see the Library Service be able to deliver a full programme in partnership with Coventry City of Culture Trust including:

Small Bells Ring - A floating library canal boat artwork created by Studio Morison delivers a literary programme of short stories read, performed, and discussed on the boat, in libraries and canal side spaces in the most deprived and multicultural parts of the City.

Reading Rooms - Offers children in care weekly facilitated, inclusive sessions reading novels, poetry, and short stories aloud with a trained practitioner. The project aims to improve resilience and wellbeing.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Brings the stories of Shakespeare’s plays and childhood life to early years children. Learning experts and drama educators deliver story sessions and themed resource packs to libraries.

Digital Installation – The Library Service will commission an artist to create a unique, visually engaging OMRC interactive digital installation acting as a read-o-meter/totalizer, progressively counting the number of reads completed during 2021/22 building to a One Million Reads total by May 2022. It will count all formats of reading and materials loaned plus those read in all OMRC projects.

Photographer in Residence - A commission for a local photographer to work collaboratively with individuals and community groups to co-produce a series of portraits revealing: their responses to literature, their stories about what and why they are reading, the impact reading has on them.

Storytelling/Reading Book Bench - A unique commission building engagement with reading and storytelling. Wild In Art’s book benches are designed and decorated with inspiration from literature. The bench will be interactive with an audio function, stimulating different senses and offering a range of uses for audiences across OMRC.

Digital - Connections to new reading experiences via QR codes placed across the city promoting OMRC and offering exciting tasters /extracts from stories with links to more reading opportunities

Cllr Kevin Maton, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “After such a difficult year, I’m so pleased to see such an exciting programme of events on the horizon and I know Coventry is equal to the challenge of reaching one-million reads.

“This programme promises to bring the joy of reading and people’s own experiences to all and will be an integral part of the year of the City of Culture 2021 with a legacy beyond.”

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust said: “I am delighted that Coventry City of Culture Trust is working so closely with Coventry Libraries and Information Service. This new funding from Arts Council England will see our libraries ensure that so many people in the city, young and older, can enjoy reading, the power of storytelling and the beauty and importance of words. This builds on our announcement at the start of March when we announced a new partnership for the city with the International Booker Prize this summer.

“Coventry is a city with a rich and proud literary history from George Elliot and Philip Larkin to Caz Frear and Lee Childs. The One Million Reads Coventry project, and the other incredible events in the Library Service programme, will make sure that this legacy is reflected and celebrated across 2021 and into 2022.

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