Strictly Come Dancing's Carlos Gu visits Blackpool to launch partnership which hopes to inspire young readers

A Strictly Come Dancing star made a grand return to Blackpool this week after securing his highest score of the 2023 series there.
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Professional dancer Carlos Gu, 31, swapped the glittering Tower Ballroom for the cosy confines of Blackpool Central Library yesterday much to the delight of all the youngsters in attendance.

What was Carlos doing in Blackpool?

TV star Carlus visited Blackpool Central Library to perform a live reading as part of a celebratory family story time event held to launch a new partnership between BAFTA-nominated CBeebies Bedtime Stories and BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity.

Carlos Gu visited Blackpool to launch s new CBeebies Bedtime Stories and BookTrust partnershipCarlos Gu visited Blackpool to launch s new CBeebies Bedtime Stories and BookTrust partnership
Carlos Gu visited Blackpool to launch s new CBeebies Bedtime Stories and BookTrust partnership

What is the partnership?

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The partnership plans to deliver unique reading corners in libraries across the UK*, starting in Blackpool.

CBeebies Bedtime Stories’ says the partnership underscores their mission to get the nation reading together whilst BookTrust’ says it will be a key part of their broader mission to support more experiences for families to enjoy reading, and to share the long-term impact reading can have on children’s development, wellbeing, progress at school and life chances.

What else happened at the launch event?

Joining Carlos, the renowned illustrator Ruth Hearson brought one of her heart-warming picture books to life with a live rendition, and poet Mike Garry gave audiences an exclusive poetry performance.

Ensuring inclusivity, all readings were supported by a BSL interpreter and adding to the excitement for young guests, popular CBeebies favourites, Ben Cajee, Dodge the Dog and iconic CBeebies characters Bluey and Supertato joined in the fun! 

The audience enjoying Carlos' entertaining live reading.The audience enjoying Carlos' entertaining live reading.
The audience enjoying Carlos' entertaining live reading.
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Families 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.

What has been said about the event?

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.”

Councillor Jo Farrell, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Levelling Up – People added:  “It was an absolute pleasure to attend the spectacular CBeebies Bedtime Story and BookTrust event, alongside some of our local families at Blackpool Central Library. 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. 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.”

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*Across the UK, the partnership will also introduce more CBeebies Bedtime Stories legacy reading corners and BookTrust Storytime engagement at libraries in Leeds, Hartlepool, Sandwell, Leicester, Brent and Somerset.

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