The trail, produced by Wild in Art and led by Peterborough Reads from the National Literacy Trust, launches this week in museums, shopping centres, cultural hubs and libraries across the city.
Over the past year, 11 local schools and six artists have been busy designing the benches, taking inspiration from a wide variety of topics, including outer space, chickens, Mr Men, fairytales and the travels of Paddington Bear.
The BookBench project inspired and motivated children throughout a difficult year for schooling. ‘Paddington Comes to Peterborough’ was designed and created by a small group of keyworker children from St Michael’s Church School in Cardea during the first lockdown.
Children from Dogsthorpe Infant School were extremely excited to be transported to the Key Theatre by sponsor Stagecoach to visit their BookBench ‘How To Catch A Story!’ alongside children from Newark Hill Primary Academy.
The youngsters were inspired by their favourite stories and wanted their BookBench to be a reminder to “always reach for the stars!”
The trail is part of a big summer schedule of events, led by Peterborough Reads and the National Literacy Trust’s Connecting Stories initiative. Families will also be able to attend story-telling events and can enjoy a ‘Walk and Talk Trail’, designed to develop literacy through everyday social activities and play.
Sally Atkinson, Peterborough Reads hub manager, said: “I am delighted that we are able to launch the Peterborough BookBench Trail to bring to fruition the culmination of the Vision for Reading.
“Reading and stories are so important for all of us. They can transport us to different worlds, make us laugh, or teach us something that we didn’t know. When you read with a child, or encourage them to read alone, you’re not just helping them to engage with the magic of stories, but you’re also helping them to learn and develop skills that will help them throughout their lives.”
Angela Wood, headteacher at Lime Academy Watergall, added: “We have been honoured to be part of the BookBench initiative in Peterborough this year.
“Our bench is a celebration of the books that each year group have most enjoyed throughout this school year.
“As a school we promote reading for pleasure at every opportunity and this has given us another reason to talk about books and celebrate how much we enjoy them.
“Children throughout the school have helped to design and paint the bench and we are looking forward to seeing all of the benches that have been created for the trail. We hope that our bench might inspire others to pick up a book and get reading.”
Peterborough Reads, from the National Literacy Trust, works with local partners and communities to deliver programmes and activities to ensure children and young people in Peterborough have the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.
To find out more information about the BookBench trail and future literacy events in Peterborough, visit https://literacytrust.org.uk/communities/peterborough/.
Schools: Lime Academy Watergall, Newark Hill Primary Academy, Nene Valley Primary School, Lime Academy Abbotsmede, Old Fletton Primary School, Peakirk-cum-Glinton CofE Primary School, Queen’s Drive Infant School, St Michael’s Church School, Dogsthorpe Infant School, Welland Academy, and St Thomas More RC Primary. Artists: Adam Pekr, Judith Berrill, Art+Believe, Lois Cordelia, Anne-Marie Byrne, and Jess Perin. Sponsors: Savills, Westone, LNER, City College Peterborough Stagecoach, Cityfibre, Whirlpool Corporation, Serpentine Green, BGL, Buckles Solicitors, and Sage Publishing.
Locations: Queensgate, Peterborough Railway Station, Peterborough Cathedral, Peterborough Central Library, Serpentine Green Shopping, Key Theatre, and Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery.