Entertainment & Arts

Classic books become London benches

Paddington Bear bench
Image caption Paddington Bear is among the much-loved children's classics to be celebrated

Literary classics ranging from Peter Pan to The Day of the Triffids are being celebrated in a series of colourful illustrated benches.

Designed by artists and writers to look like open books, the 50 seats have been placed around London.

Cartoonist Ralph Steadman and How To Train Your Dragon creator Cressida Cowell are among those taking part.

The idea has been launched by the National Literacy Trust to celebrate reading.

"I am so excited to have designed a How to Train Your Dragon book bench 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," said Cowell, who is known for illustrating her own books.

"I am hoping Books about Town will remind Londoners on the streets of the joy of reading books."

Image caption Cressida Cowell's How To Train Your Dragon bench shows her skills as an artist as well as a writer

Steadman, who illustrated Lewis Caroll's children's classic Through the Looking-Glass in 1973, has reproduced some of these illustrations for one of the seats.

Image caption Children's author Lauren Child has designed a bench based on her Clarice Bean series

And globally successful book and play War Horse is celebrated on a bench designed by Rae Smith, the award-winning stage designer of the National Theatre's production.

Image caption James Bond is one of the literary characters from adult fiction that can be discovered on the London benches

Literary heroes such as Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Mary Poppins and Hercules Poirot also appear on benches for visitors to find by following literary trails.

The benches will be auctioned at London's Southbank Centre on 7 October to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust to tackle illiteracy in deprived communities across the UK.

Image caption The benches, such as this one inspired by Always Try To Be A Little Kinder Than Is Necessary, are designed to show how children and adults can find the art of reading fun and inspiring

The trust has also unveiled the findings of a study showing children's enjoyment of reading has increased.

The charity surveyed about 30,000 eight- to 16-year-olds for its report Children's and Young People's Reading in 2013 and found 53.3% of them enjoyed reading either "very much" or "quite a lot".

This surpasses the highest level of reading enjoyment the charity recorded eight years ago in 2005, which was 51.4%.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites