Children's TV star Chris Jarvis has launched a series of storybooks written and produced by local artists and South Tyneside schoolchildren and their families.
CBeebies presenter Chris was at The Word to launch the books, produced through a Cultural Spring project supported by South Tyneside Council and The Customs House.
Five regional artists worked with children and their families at five local schools.
South Tyneside Mayor, Coun Ken Stephenson, welcomed the schoolchildren, families, teachers and artists to the launch event .
“The Word was built to encourage creativity and using your imagination, particularly among young people, so it’s great to see so many children here this morning who have helped produce these books,” said Coun Stephenson.
The Cultural Spring project co-ordinator Michael Barrass then explained how the commission worked, congratulating the artists, children and their families on the quality of the books produced.
Chris also passed on his congratulations saying: “It’s great to share the success of these young published authors and artists and hats off to The Cultural Spring and the artists, children and families who worked so hard on this brilliant project."
Chris then brought the books to life, giving lively readings of each book in turn, which had the children and their families entranced.
The project started before the summer holidays when The Cultural Spring linked the schools and artists and set them the challenge of producing the books.
Each artist met children and their parents or grandparents from their respective schools to develop stories and narratives.
Once completed, the stories and artwork were given to design, creative and digital agency The Works, based in Chester-le-Street.
The agency designed the books and oversaw their publication, and sponsored the cost of design work. JasPrint sponsored the printing of the books
The school/artist combinations were:
St Aloysius RC VA Junior School, Hebburn, and artist/illustrator Josie Brookes;
Lord Blyton Primary School, South Shields and artist Julia Stafford
Hadrian Primary School, South Shields and artist/designer Alizon Bennet
Biddick Hall Infants School, South Shields and illustrator Laura Joy Robertson
Holy Trinity CE Academy and Blyth-based arts organization Headway Arts
Emma Horsman, project director of the Cultural Spring, said: “This has been a really successful project and one that the children and their families, and the artists, have enjoyed.
“The quality of the books produced is amazing, and the young people should be proud of what they’ve helped produce.
"As well as aiming to spark creativity and an interest in the arts, we hope that the books will also encourage the young people involved to read more.
"Each of the schools received a supply of books, as did The Word, so hopefully they’ll encourage an interest in reading among children throughout South Tyneside – and beyond.
“We’re grateful to South Tyneside Council, The Customs House, The Works, JasPrint and CBeebies for their generous support, and I’d particularly like to thank Chris Jarvis who has a natural and genuine rapport with children and read the books so well.”
The Cultural Spring is an Arts Council England project aimed at increasing arts participation in South Tyneside and Sunderland.
The project’s four partners are Sunderland University; the Customs House, South Shields, Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and Sangini, a women’s health organisation.