London benches to celebrate books

A new public art project will see benches shaped as open books.

The benches - to be placed across London - will include one based on Michael Rosen's We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, another on J M Barrie's Peter Pan and a third on Kenneth Graeme's Wind in the Willows [pictured].

The so-called "BookBenches" will be designed by international and local artists, and aim to promote reading for enjoyment and to celebrate stories linked to the capital.

Visitors will be able to discover the benches in various locations across the city from July next year by following literary trails, as part of a scheme from the National Literacy Trust and arts and education company Wild in Art.

The project, supported by Visit England, will help raise money for the National Literacy Trust to tackle low literacy levels in deprived communities across the UK.

Walker Books has sponsored a BookBench themed bench for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Author Michael Rosen said: “I love the idea of sitting on giant books. With the Bear Hunt big BookBench, I suppose you can say that you can't go through it, but you can go over it, you can go under it or better still you can sit on it.”

City firm KPMG is sponsoring a Peter Pan-themed BookBench, and the National Literacy Trust is appealing for more businesses to get involved. Firms can choose from a list of books linked to London, or come up with their own.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “We are delighted to be launching Books about Town to spread the love of reading across the capital. 

“This is such an exciting opportunity for businesses to be a part of this unique literary attraction set to hit the streets of London next summer.”

Books About Town will build on the legacy of the London 2012 Games, which saw statues of Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville placed around London.

Firms interested in sponsoring a BookBench can call Lorna Taylor on 020 7820 6252 or email lorna.taylor@literacytrust.org.uk.