A couple of weeks ago I got taken on a little tour around the book benches that have been popping up around London by the very friendly ladies at The Society of Young Publishers. We were doing the ‘Riverside’ trail, kindly mapped out by The National Literacy Trust on the Books About Town website, and spotted some excellent representations of much-loved stories such as War Horse, Paddington Bear, Through the Looking Glass and the Discworld series. The benches are clearly doing the trick, as they are all being lovingly sat on and admired by all who pass by. There is also a trail around Greenwich, where I just so happen to work. There’s an unexpected (but totally appropriate) bench dedicated to Captain Scott’s diaries of the fateful Terra Nova expedition just outside the Sammy Ofer entrance to the Maritime Museum, only a short walk away from one dedicated to Darwin’s The Origin of the Species, sporting a beautiful tree with fossils planted amongst its roots. On the way up the hill to the Royal Observatory you will find the aptly placed bench representing H G Wells’ The Time Machine a few metres away from the Meridian Line, permanently sat on by eager international school kids in uniformly neon t-shirts, awaiting their turn in the Planetarium.
The benches are around for our adoring eyes until 15th September, as they will be auctioned off on 7th October to help fund the marvellous National Literacy Trust. This is a great project, especially as I think many of us were pretty terrified when reports were revealed last year showing adults in England were ranked 22nd out of 24 developed countries for literacy skills. Clearly more needs to be done to help young people crawl out of this hole in their education, and I think this is a brilliant movement to celebrate great British (mostly) literature, as well as the joys of reading. Go out and find the benches! Sit on them! While reading a book!
For more info about Books About Town click here.
For more info about Society of Young Publishers events click here.