Budding young storytellers from across Middlesbrough gathered for an inspiring masterclass at the Riverside Stadium.
The would-be wordsmiths sat spellbound as a master raconteur told them the tallest of tales.
The young writers then let their imaginations run riot as they worked with professional illustrators to bring their fantasy world to life.
Around 240 children from St Clare’s, Park End, Linthorpe, Chandlers Ridge, Berwick Hills, Caldicotes, Hemlington Hall and Thorntree primaries and Beverley School took park in the morning workshop laid on by the Middlesbrough Promise.
Also taking part were students from Macmillan Academy and River Tees Multi Academy Trust who took on the role of journalists for the day, interviewing key players, taking photographs and producing an article on the event.
The Author and Illustrator Masterclass is part of Middlesbrough Council’s commitment to the Middlesbrough Promise which works to encourage reading and writing among young people.
Storyteller and author Chris Bostock said he found working with young people rewarding and inspiring.
The former teacher started his own theatre company and brings his dramatic skills to bear in his storytelling workshops and masterclasses.
He said: “I want to make children dream with their eyes open, and it’s always great to see how the young people engage with the story.
“That gave them the inspiration to produce some wonderful illustrations.
“Initiatives like this are a fantastic way to instil a love of books and stories in young people from an early age, and I know it will stand them in good stead.”
Peter Kirby-Bowstead, from Hemlington Hall Primary, said: “We actively encourage our students to read outside the classrooms, and events like this are invaluable in spreading that message.
“The Masterclass allowed the children to enjoy reading collectively and listen intently to the storyteller’s captivating tales.”
Nine-year-old Lola, one of those taking part, added: “Expressing the story through images made reading and storytelling a more enjoyable experience for me.”
And the Middlesbrough Hub of the National Literacy Trust hub made sure every child received a free book on departure, giving them a special souvenir of a memorable event.
Event organiser and Middlesbrough Council Senior Education Adviser Karen Smith said the aim of the Middlesbrough Promise was to make reading a priority for every Middlesbrough family.
She said: “Events like this are a vital way to break down negative perceptions around reading by showing children that reading can come in many different forms.
“The children who took part were completely transfixed, engaging with the activities and interacting with the storyteller.”
National Literacy Trust Hub Manager Allison Potter said literacy skills played a crucial role in young people’s development: “One in eight children don’t have books at home, and that’s a trend we have to reverse.
“Lower literacy skills can be linked with poor health outcomes so breaking the cycle within the local area by book sharing – starting within families – is extremely important.”