Strictly’s Carlos Gu returns to Blackpool to launch CBeebies Bedtime Stories and BookTrust collaboration

Published on: 27 Chwefror 2024

BookTrust and CBeebies Bedtime Stories have kickstarted a brand new partnership with a family story time event at Blackpool Central Library.

Strictly Come Dancing star Carlos Gu returned to Blackpool today, this time visiting the Blackpool Central Library rather than the Tower Ballroom, to launch a brand new partnership between CBeebies Bedtime Stories and BookTrust.

At a fun family event at Blackpool Central Library today (27 February), supported by Blackpool Council, Carlos read the book Got To Dance and was joined by other special guests.

Popular CBeebies presenter Ben Cajee and iconic characters Bluey and Dodge the Dog were on hand to host the event and meet families, illustrator Ruth Hearson read one of her heart-warming picture books, and poet Mike Garry performed for the children. All of the readings were also supported by a BSL intepreter.

Families attending the event were invited to take a seat on the iconic CBeebies Bedtime Stories yellow chair, which is now being permanently donated to Blackpool Central Library, along with CBeebies books, stickers and merchandise to create a legacy CBeebies Bedtime Stories reading corner.

This will be available along with BookTrust Storytime, an interactive programme designed to encourage families to make library visits a regular part of family life, which brought 50,000 children into 2,400 libraries across England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year.

Bringing the excitement and magic of shared reading to children in the early years

The Blackpool event is part of an ongoing collaboration between BookTrust and CBeebies to develop new ways to engage families with the life-changing benefits of reading in the early years.

Elsewhere, the partnership will create more CBeebies Bedtime Stories legacy reading corners and BookTrust Storytime engagement at libraries across the UK including Leeds, Hartlepool, Sandwell, Leicester, Brent and, Somerset.

These locations were selected as part of BookTrust's work with Arts Council England to test and develop new ways to engage parents and children to inspire a love of reading together, with a focus on under-served areas.

The partnership is an extension of CBeebies Bedtime Stories' mission to get the nation reading together with its star-studded guests, meaningful partnerships and brilliant stories that inspire a passion for the shared experience of reading.

It is also a key part of BookTrust's broader mission to support more families to experience the enjoyment of reading, and the long-term life-changing benefits reading can bring for children's development, wellbeing, progress at school and life chances.

The partnership with BookTrust comes as CBeebies Bedtime Stories prepares to put up its back catalogue of over 300 stories onto BBC iPlayer, including stories with Jason Momoa, David Tennant, Harry Styles, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Dolly Parton and Kate Winslet among others.

Finding new ways to engage families with reading

Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust, said: "We're thrilled to team up with CBeebies and our partners at Blackpool Council to create this unforgettable library story time experience for families.

"Experiencing the fun first-hand at a library story time can be a crucial first step on encouraging more people to feel the library is a place they belong.

"Exploring new ways to engage families with the free reading support on offer at their local library is a key pillar of our charity's work to help more children get the wide-ranging benefits that come from a love of reading."

Meanwhile, Patricia Hidalgo, Director of BBC Children's and Education, said: "Collaborating with BookTrust to extend the magic of the iconic yellow chair into library corners nationwide is a true delight. We are thrilled to join forces in our mission to cultivate a passion for reading within families.

"CBeebies Bedtime Stories holds a special place in households. It's more than just storytelling, it's become a cherished tradition that fosters lasting memories and sparks imagination through shared reading experiences."

And Councillor Jo Farrell, Blackpool Council's Cabinet Member for Levelling Up – People, added that attending the event had been an "absolute pleasure".

"Everyone had buckets of fun - the guest readers and special characters really enthralled our early years audience. The British Sign Language interpreter brought the stories to life with passion – a truly great event enjoyed with many happy faces," Farrell added.

"We know reading from a young age is key. Research shows that reading with a child has a lasting effect on language, vocabulary and literacy skills and is hugely beneficial to their development.

"This collaborative project is helping children to discover the gift of reading. It has also allowed us an additional opportunity to highlight the incredible programme of activities and events our libraries host for children and adults of all ages."

Download the full press release

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