CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell tells Juliet Vandensteen why stories are for everyone.
Diving straight into the session with engaging enthusiasm and excitement Cerrie began by talking about one of her favourite stories as a child, Alice in Wonderland. With her long blonde hair, bright blue eyes and fair skin, Cerrie said she always felt just like Alice. However, as she got a bit older this feeling began to change.
“I started to realise that I was a little bit different from all of those children in those lovely books because they looked a little bit like me, but none of them had only one hand. I started wondering why there aren’t any stories with children that looked like me.”
Cerrie told the audience about her storybooks: how each character is brilliantly unique and far from your average children’s book character. From mermaids to musicians, Cerrie’s books teach children the importance of acceptance and diversity, tackling real-life issues without losing any of the magic or excitement.
Focusing on the latest book in her series Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella, Cerrie encouraged the children to use their imagination and come up with some unique ways to use their umbrellas…
“As a spinning top” – Matilda
“As a boat” – Emmy
“As a disguise from mean people” – Mia
“To fly to school” – Sophie
To close the session, the children became part of their own orchestra and played different instruments as Harper and her friends do in Cerrie’s story. The only sound louder than the maracas, chiming bells and clicking castanets was laughter.
“I really want to highlight that you don’t have to be a good reader to enjoy stories, that stories are for everyone and they are a wonderfully inclusive thing that existed long before people could write things down.”