Plans are underway to bring a striking trail of book-shaped benches to Peterborough as part of the Peterborough Celebrates Reading campaign that will see a year of activities devoted to events celebrating literature across the city.
School children across Peterborough will decorate a ‘BookBench’ sculpture with designs inspired by books, novels, comics, poems and prose. Whether based on sci-fi, a nursery rhyme or a classic or contemporary novel, the BookBench provides a blank canvas for creativity and the potential to interpret literary works in a range of different ways.
Decorating BookBenches with scenes and characters from stories will inspire children to read more widely and improve their literacy.
Young people who enjoy reading are nearly five times as likely to read at the expected level for their age, compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all, according to the National Literacy Trust.
The BookBench project will be delivered alongside creative producers Wild in Art. Around 30 BookBenches will be displayed in public venues across the city in July 2020, forming a trail for families to enjoy and raising awareness of the importance of literacy skills.
Many of the venues will host themed activities and events throughout the summer, and in September 2020 the BookBenches will be returned to the schools and community groups that decorated them where they could become a lasting feature of a library, book corner or outside learning environment.
Schools and community groups will need to contribute to the cost of a BookBench to take part in the project, which many will achieve through fundraising initiatives. An appeal has also gone out to businesses to match-fund the benches by sponsoring one.
It costs £1,500 to sponsor one bench and for that each sponsor will receive:
. Company name on a plaque that will be displayed next to the bench
. Prominent branding on the BookBench Trail Map, which will be distributed across the city
. Acknowledgement at all BookBench events throughout the year
. The potential to help the school or community group design and decorate the BookBench
. Acknowledgement on the National Literacy Trust website, which receives 550,000 unique users per month
. Acknowledgement in all BookBench media around the Year of Reading.
Appliance manufacturer Hotpoint, owned by Whirlpool Corporation, is the first local business to have signed up to sponsor a bench.
Ian Moverley, corporate affairs director at Whirlpool, said: “The work of Peterborough Reads is vital for the city so I am delighted that Whirlpool have pledged to get behind the BookBench project of the Peterborough Reads campaign.
“It is a visible and exciting way to raise the profile of reading across the city, giving our youngsters a fantastic opportunity to explore the wonderful worlds of literacy and storytelling. As a major employer in the city for many years we’re proud to have the opportunity to support the project.”
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Decorating BookBenches with scenes and characters from stories is a great way to inspire children to read more widely, but we need businesses to help us bring this project to life.
“By supporting the BookBench project your organisation can be part of an exciting public event, strengthen links with a local school and help to make a difference to the lives of children and families in Peterborough.”
Businesses interested in supporting Peterborough’s BookBench trail should email fundraising officer Rebecca Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.