Nottingham City Council’s Library and Information Service is all set to surprise and delight visitors to Nottingham Central Library with a brand-new and exciting addition to the d├ęcor!

Last week a fabulous new bench shaped like an open book arrived at the Central Library on Angel Row. The bench which is bright and colourful has been carefully hand-painted by Axel Scheffler, the illustrator who brought to life the characters in Julia Donaldson’s enticing childrens’ stories including Stickman, Zog and Room on the Broom.

In total, the bench features nine of the famous Julia Donaldson stories including the acclaimed Gruffalo which won Nottingham City’s 2nd Book Award in 2001 and which has created a magical world for both children and adults to enjoy since it was published in 1999.

The bench which will be placed in the entrance foyer of the Central Library, is designed to encourage children, their parents, friends and families to sit down together and spend quality time reading, learning and exploring the magical world of books together. It reinforces the importance of libraries in our communities as sources of inspiration and relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is hoped that the bench will become a focal point for families to sit in the relaxing and inspiring surroundings of a City library and share the enjoyment of reading all kinds of books together.

Research from Bookstart highlights the educational value of reading and other informal, shared activities which commonly take place in the home. Activities like sharing a storybook has been consistently identified as having a positive effect on children and can help them gain life-long literacy skills.

The research also shows that children respond well to the encouragement they get from their parents and the emotional closeness they feel when sharing a favourite book. The shared experience of learning and reading together can also unleash a child’s imagination through the magic of the unfolding story. Nottingham City Libraries run many regular events to promote childrens’ literacy including “Tots’ Times” for under 5’s and the hugely popular annual Summer Reading Challenge for older children which saw over 59,000 books read across Nottingham in 2014.

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dave Trimble said “The enjoyment of reading is a priceless gift which can stay with a child for life and is vital to improving their literacy, social development and their life chances. The book-bench is a wonderful way for the Library and Information Service to encourage more children and their families to experience reading together and the superb illustrations by Axel Scheffler will make it a great feature. I’m sure many families will really enjoy coming along to share stories on the bench and hopefully join the library so they can borrow books to share over Christmas.”