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News story

Spot on tour in Rochdale bringing storytelling to local families

09 Jun 2023

Derby St - First Words Together

Almost 500 parents and their children recently joined beloved children’s picture book character Spot and the National Literacy Trust on a road show of children’s centres in Rochdale, promoting the importance of early language and communication.

Eric Hill’s playful puppy Spot first appeared in 1980, in the original ​lift-the-flap book ​Where’s Spot?. The series, published by Puffin, has gone on to sell over 65 million books worldwide.

Families were invited along for free storytelling and singing sessions, face painting, puppet making and more, all designed to help parents support their babies’ early language and communication development. Everyone left with a free goody bag containing a Spot book, kindly gifted by Puffin.

The road show celebrated the start of First Words Together, a programme from the National Literacy Trust to help parents support their babies' and toddlers' early communication and language development. The programme takes place across a series of weekly sessions and will be delivered at 5 Libraries in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale.

Parental involvement in their child’s literacy practices positively affects children’s academic performance and is a more powerful force for academic success than other family background variables, such as social class, family size and level of parental education.

This new programme was welcomed by Rochdale Borough Council and forms part of the multi-agency Rochdale speech and language pathway, led by a Multi-agency early years teams. The SLC Pathway aims to showcase the wide range of services, resources and support available to families of children 0 – 5 in Rochdale to promote speech, language and community. The pathway is a multiagency approach to help Rochdale children thrive.

“I am delighted that we are able to offer these sessions to families across the borough. Our 16 Children’s Centres all offer a diverse range of sessions from breast feeding support and Baby Sensations to Healthy Little Eaters to Stories and Crafts for babies and children up to five years old. Supporting language and communication is fundamental to a child’s development and these additional sessions, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, provide additional support for families in a fun and friendly environment.”

Councillor Rachel Massey, cabinet member for children’s services and education

It’s wonderful to mark the launch of the First Words Together programme with a family event and of course a visit from Spot. Our partnership with Rochdale Borough Council will ensure local families have the skills and confidence to support their babies during these vital early stages of development. We know how important early language is in making sure children have the literacy skills they need to succeed. The launch event highlights a clear appetite to empower parents to have a lasting impact on their children’s lives. I’m looking forward to watching the programme develop over the coming months.

Tracy Jackson, Head of Early Years at the National Literacy Trust

First Words Together sessions will take place across five Rochdale libraries within their children’s spaces and co-delivered by Rochdale Health Visitors and local early years workers. Families with a 0-2-year-old can book onto these sessions by contacting their local children’s centre directly. Families can find their nearest centre and contact details by visiting:

For free activities and information about helping your baby or toddler learn to speak, or to find out more about First Words Together, visit this webpage.

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