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London streets filled with 'BookBenches'
02.07.14 | Joshua Farrington
The National Literacy Trust (NLT) has released fresh research showing children's enjoyment of reading has grown over the past eight years, at the same time as literary "BookBenches" appear all over London.
In a survey of 30,000 eight to 16-year-olds carried out last year, 53.3% of children said they enjoy reading "very much" or "quite a lot", a rise on the figure of 51.4% recorded when similar research was carried out in 2005. More young people are also reading outside class compared to previous studies and more young people also think reading is "cool", according to the survey results.
While fewer children questioned in "Children and Young People's Reading 2013" said they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading, one in four said they did not have a favourite book, and 31.6% say they struggle to find things to read which interest them.
The research has been released at the same time as the streets of London have been filled with 50 book-shaped benches for summer, celebrating a range of books from classics to modern favourites.
Launched by the NLT and Wild in Art, the Books About Town project sees 50 BookBench sculptures placed around the capital, from Greenwich to Hyde Park, to celebrate books and reading.
Artists who have designed the benches include The Gruffalo (Macmillan Children's Books) illustrator Axel Scheffler, who has designed a bench based on the characters in books produced by Julia Donaldson and himself.
Ralph Steadman has reproduced illustrations from his designs for Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, and Lauren Child and Cressida Cowell have each created a bench based on their series, Clarice Bean and How to Train Your Dragon.
Other benches feature Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Mary Poppins, Hercule Poirot and the works of Dr Seuss.
Cowell said: "I am so excited to have designed a How to Train Your Dragon BookBench and to be part of the National Literacy Trust’s Books about Town campaign to celebrate the wealth of writing and illustrating talent in this country. I am hoping that Books about Town will remind Londoners on the streets of the joy of reading books."
The NLT has produced four maps showing people where they can find the benches, clustered around routes in Bloomsbury, the City, Greenwich and along the Thames.
On 7th October, the benches will be auctioned at the Southbank Centre to raise funds for the NLT.