LITERARY PLAYGROUND

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Published on March 22, 2015 with No Comments

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Delightful book-themed benches are popping up all over London.

Words GRACE CHOI
Images NATIONAL LITERACY TRUST

The streets of London are turning into a literary playground, thanks to a project by the National Literacy Trust. From now till mid September, visitors to London can enjoy the thrill of seeking out 50 colourful seats, each shaped like an open book, that have been scattered all around the capital.

Each seat, also called a BookBench, celebrates top children authors like Cressida Cowell and Lauren Child, as well as illustrators like Nick Sharratt, as the National Literacy Trust commemorates England’s literary heritage and reading for enjoyment through its Book About Town initiative.

These creations by local artists and famous names feature stories linked to London and are based on a range of iconic books from treasured children’s stories such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Peter Pan to classic adult titles including 1984 and The Day of the Triffids.

“We are very excited to be bringing a collection of BookBenches to London this summer to spread the love of reading across the capital,” Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said of the project. “From Conan Doyle’s Sherlock to Cressida’s dragons, there will be plenty in store for visitors to celebrate reading for enjoyment and the UK’s rich literary culture.”

Axel Scheffler has illustrated a bench which celebrates his work with Julia Donaldson and the characters they have created together, including The Gruffalo and characters from their new book The Scarecrows’ Wedding. Among the other top artists involved is Ralph Steadman who illustrated Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic Through the Looking Glass in 1973 and has reproduced some of these illustrations on a unique BookBench. Children’s authors Lauren Child and Cressida Cowell have each designed benches based on their own series Clarice Bean and How to Train Your Dragon. Original illustration by Rae Smith, the Tony and Olivier award-winning stage designer of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse also features on a bespoke War Horse BookBench.

Apart from the BookBenches, several literary trails have been also created around Greenwich, the City, Riverside and Bloomsbury to make hunting for these book benches even more exciting. Each trail has been designed to enable everyone to explore the capital’s literary connections, enjoy art from some of the country’s top artists and experience the joy of reading for pleasure.

Then on 7 October, the BookBenches will be auctioned at the Southbank Centre. Successful bidders will have the opportunity to take home and treasure a BookBench of their very own and raise crucial funds for the National Literacy Trust to help support their work improving literacy in the UK’s most disadvantaged areas.

“Families can have fun discovering the BookBenches, talking about the books depicted and continue the adventure at home with our downloadable activities. Fostering a love of reading at home is crucial to children’s future happiness and success, “ Douglas continued. Visit www.booksabouttown.org.uk to find out where these wonderful BookBenches are located and www.booksabouttown.org.uk/auction for auction details.

Established in 1993, the National Literacy Trust is an independent charity that gives people the skills they need to succeed. The Patron is Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall. The charity is the only national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK, doing it via community projects, support for schools and campaigning.

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