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London book benches are you sitting comfortably

London book benches: are you sitting comfortably?

Thursday 21 November 2013

New literacy scheme will recreate famous books including Wind in the Willows and 1984, in form of seating. Visitors to London will able to enjoy books in a new way next summer – by sitting on them.

Benches resembling giant open books, the volumes ranging from Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows to George Orwell's 1984, will be installed at various sites in the capital for a stretch of 10 weeks.

JM Barrie's Peter Pan, and Michael Rosen's We're Going on a Bear Hunt, are among the first batch of commissions in the fundraising scheme launched by the literary charity National Literacy Trust, and were sponsored by the children's publishers Walker Books and the tax advisors KPMG. The scheme will end with the benches being auctioned to raise money for the trust, an independent charity tackling low literacy levels.

It is hoped enough business sponsors will sign up to create 50-70 BookBenches, which will appear in London from next July. If all goes to plan Mr Toad's bench will be found not on the banks of the Thames but beside the Bank of England, where Kenneth Grahame was working as secretary when the book was published, a Literacy Trust spokeswoman said. It's not yet known where the bench commemorating Orwell's great novel of totalitarian dystopia would be sited, "but we are open to suggestions."

Michael Rosen said Coram's Fields would be his choice for the Bear Hunt bench. "It's the world's first purpose-built playground still in use, so in a way it's a rare monument to the importance of play."

He added: "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. I think that people seeing bookbenches in the street will chuckle and remind each other about a good reading experience."

The scheme is run in partnership with Wild in Art, specialists in public art sculpture trails, who worked on site-specific art projects for the London 2012 Olympics.

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."

The scheme is open to potential sponsors until December.


  1. Guardian:
    Book Benches in London.


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