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Spot-branded bus tours Sunderland to encourage little ones to chat, play and read

30 Oct 2019

Read North East, a campaign from the National Literacy Trust, has partnered with one of the region’s largest bus operators for a tour of Sunderland with local schoolchildren, to celebrate an initiative fronted by Eric Hill’s Spot inspiring children to chat, play and read.

Last week The National Literacy Trust and Stagecoach North East teamed up for a three-part bus tour to promote simple ways to make your child happy and help them to learn. This comes as part of the ‘chat, play, read’ initiative from Read North East, which is fronted by Eric Hill’s Spot books.
The initiative shows parents how they can improve their children’s communication, language and literacy skills in the home. Thanks to a partnership with Penguin Random House, the loveable canine character will feature on the interior of 120 Stagecoach North East buses, which make over 13 million passenger journeys each year.

To celebrate the appearance of Spot on board Stagecoach North East buses, the National Literacy Trust invited pupils and their families from Southwick Primary School in Sunderland to take part in a literacy-focused open-top bus tour of the city. En route, the children were joined by pupils from Hudson Road Primary School, Valley Road Primary and Dame Dorothy Primary School making a total of 100 children for three activities focused around the ‘chat, play read’ themes.

The day started with a storytelling and networking event at Stagecoach North East headquarters, where the children heard Spot-related tales from local storyteller, Jonah York. Pupils then travelled to the Beacon of Light for a sports programme themed around the Spot books, delivered by Sunderland AFC’s official charity, the Foundation of Light. The event closed with a schedule of activities at Sunderland City Library in which they heard more stories and how to make the most of their local library.

Every pupil involved in the event took home a goody bag including an interactive Spot the Dog leaflet, which brings storytime to life with plenty of tips for making reading fun, and a free copy of Spot Plays Football, kindly provided by Penguin Random House.

Read North East is led by the National Literacy Trust and supported by the North East Literacy Forum, which includes Penguin Random House. It was set up in 2017 to address the high level of literacy need in the region and since then, has held an exclusive schools event with the world-famous children’s author Jeff Kinney, and given away more than 8,700 books to families who might not already have books at home.

James Kingett, Programme Manager for Read North East at the National Literacy Trust, said: “We’re delighted that so many children in Sunderland and their families were able to learn about the benefits of chatting, playing and reading through our fun and exciting bus tour with Stagecoach North East. We hope the families will enjoy reading their new books and the Spot campaign will inspire more families to chat, play and read together.”

Steve Walker, Managing Director, Stagecoach North East, said: “We always try our best to support projects which will benefit the local community, especially when it comes to youth learning and development, and it feels brilliant that we are helping to make a real difference to so many youngsters."

Joe Marriott, Commissioning Editor at Puffin Picture Books, said: “Puffin is delighted that Spot is championing Read North East’s inspirational campaign, encouraging early literacy skills and a life-long love of books. Spot is one of the first and best-loved characters encountered by young readers and next year will mark 40 years of Spot guiding children through their first steps and experiences. It feels fitting for him to be at the forefront of this important and playful spur to encourage and enjoy shared reading.”

Read North East is also encouraging families to let them know when they’ve spotted Spot on board a Stagecoach North East bus by taking a photo and sharing it on social media, using the hashtag #ReadNorthEast. Families can download the free Spot interactive leaflet from