How To Be The World’s Best Parent

read to your child for 10 minutes every day, reading for pleasure, tips for reading to kids, Wow, that’s one heck of a promise, but what if we told you that being the world’s best parent isn’t just entirely possible and easily within your grasp, it takes less than 1% of your day? Even better, you can start working towards that coveted parenting crown as soon as you’ve finished reading this article.

So what exactly do you need to do? It’s simple. Just read to your child for 10 minutes every day. 15 minutes if you can. (20 minutes and you’ll win your place in a special heaven populated by all your favourite fictional characters, locations and foods and, occasionally, your favourite author will drop by and invite you for tea and cake.)

But let’s start with just 10 minutes. On paper, reading to your child for 10 minutes every day seems totally doable, doesn’t it? But if it were so easy, we’d all be doing it and reading charities all over the world wouldn’t be imploring us to read to our children more.

There’s overwhelming evidence now that reading to your children is one of the best things you can do for them educationally and on an emotional level. It’s an incredible time for bonding and we all know it! So what’s stopping us and how do we overcome the barriers that life puts in the way? We have some solutions for you.

4 barriers to reading to your kids… and how to knock them down


1. Tiredness

This is perhaps one of the most common reasons given for not reading to your child for 10 minutes every day. Either you or your child is too exhausted. All you want to do is collapse on the sofa and watch some telly or fall into bed. It’s understandable, but with a little attitude shift and some clever timing, you can make a positive difference.

Your solution: The saying goes that if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results. So stop promising yourself that you’ll read for 10 minutes every night and then feeling guilt-stricken when you’re too tired to see it through. Instead, commit to read for 10 minutes every day at a time when you’ve both got enough energy to enjoy it. That might be first thing in the morning, at lunch, before dinner, after dinner. There is no right time – keep changing it until you get it right. You’ll know when that is as you’ll be reading for pleasure and not as a chore – and your child will be rapt. Read more on finding time to read here.


2. Busyness

With so many demands on modern life, it’s hard not to fall into the busyness trap. But, as we mentioned in the intro, 10 minutes takes up less than 1% of your day. And that 10 minutes of reading has been proven to have such a positive impact on your child’s wellbeing and educational attainment, it’s absolutely worth making it a priority.

Your solution: Treat 10 minutes of reading to your child like you would any other daily task. Schedule it in and add it to your to-do list. You could put it in your diary or journal or even make a wall chart for you or your child to tick off. If you make it a daily goal, you’ll have a sense of achievement every time you complete it – and it will soon turn into a good habit. One with a gazillion benefits thrown in for both you – reading together is a great stress reliever – and your child.


3. Not-in-the-mood-ness

Ah, we’ve all been here – and kids use this reason as often as adults. The problem is that taking one day off because you don’t feel ‘in the mood’ can easily escalate into a permanent state of being (think gym memberships). It’s a slippery slope, but you can tackle it with a change of approach.

Your solution: If neither of you are in the mood, chances are you’re bored. You need to change things up. There are so many ways you can do this. You can change your reading material. Try non-fiction, for instance, or try a myth instead of a fairy tale. Change where and how you read – go outside, read in a blanket tent, read by torchlight. Change when you read – do it at a completely different time. Alternatively, reward yourselves for reading. We have some ideas on how you can do that here. Simple actions like this can banish boredom and ensure that your 10 minutes of reading is something you look forward to and treasure.


4. Fidgetiness

Some children have supernova-levels of energy. Some have short attention spans. We get it. They’d rather be charging up and down the living room or fidgeting around than cosying up for a story. Though getting them to settle might seem like an impossible feat, a Storytime session might be the very thing you need. It’s all in the timing.

Your solution: Use Storytime to help your child transition from fully alert to that relaxed twilight state before sleep. Think of your 10 minutes of Storytime as meditation or a cool down. Make sure your child is in pyjamas to signal that bedtime is coming and it’s time to relax. Explain that this will be part of your bedtime routine from now on. Now take a deep calming breath (it’s not a bad idea to ask your child to take one too) and read for 10 minutes. There’s no more powerful relaxant for a restless child than a bedtime story.

 

read to your child for 10 minutes every day, reading for pleasureSo next time you’re faced with a barrier like the ones we’ve listed above, consider the benefits of reading to your child for 10 minutes a day. That’s roughly the length of one or two Storytime stories. You could even fit in one of our poems!

Yes, it will make your child a more confident and able reader. Yes, there are numerous other benefits, educational and otherwise. But the most compelling reason of all is that it sends a powerful message to your child. You’re telling them that you care enough to devote quality time to them doing something that brings pure and simple joy… reading. And that’s how to be the world’s best parent in just 10 minutes!

Did we cover your barriers to reading to your children? Has this helped you prioritise reading for 10 minutes a day? Let us know by getting in touch on our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

 

Read and be brilliant this week,

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*Picture credit: Picsea at Unsplash.

Storytime Issue 55 Is Here!

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Can you believe we’re at Storytime Issue 55 and this is our first cover featuring a dragon? It just goes to show how many fantastic stories are out there battling it out to make the cover. In fact, we love the cover of Storytime Issue 55 so much (gracias, Leire Martin!), we almost want to put a dragon cover on every issue of Storytime. We’ll just change the name to Dragontime, okay? Deal? Deal!

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Leire Martin’s colourful take on Stan and the Dragon for Storytime Issue 55.

If you have ever doubted the power of human ingenuity and imagination (when science wasn’t available to say otherwise), just look at dragon stories and mythology. Why come up with a dull explanation for events when you can blame a dragon? Incidentally, it’s actually a dragon’s fault there’s a tiny typo in that story. Honest. It’s true!

Anyway, back to our lovely new issue – of which we are very proud and excited (apart from the harmless typo). For those who don’t already subscribe to Storytime and are yet to experience its magic, we like to take a closer look at each story and thank our wonderful contributors. So before we get carried with (or by) dragons, find out more here.

Inside Storytime Issue 55

 

Illustrator Georgia Broseghini graces our pages again with artwork for our newest Storyland Adventure. In this issue, Little Red Riding Hood has to face her fears and walk through the woods to visit granny again. Will she listen to advice this time and stay on the path? Naturally, the Big Bad Wolf tries to live up to his name.

Stan and the Dragon is a fun and adventurous fairy tale from Romania featuring a character who uses brains rather than brawn to outwit two dragons. Oh, and he has 100 children! The gorgeous cover (those colours!) and internal illustrations are by Leire Martin.

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Art by Marilisa Cotroneo for Rudyard Kipling’s How the Elephant Got Its Trunk in Storytime Issue 55.

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk, sometimes called The Elephant’s Child, is by Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book. This tale comes from his collection of Just So Stories, and we have updated it for a modern, younger readership. Marilisa Cotroneo illustrated this story and gave us the gorgeous cuddling elephants at the end. School subscribers will get a free classroom pack to use with this story. It contains a glossary, lesson ideas, activities, quizzes, comprehension tests and more. Find out more on our Schools site.

We had a lot of fun also updating the classic days-of-the-week nursery rhyme Monday’s Child (is full of grace… remember?). In Storytime Issue 55, it’s called A Musical Week and you can see kids and animals rocking out, playing instruments and having a great time. Special thanks to illustrator Carolina Grosa for bringing it to life. You can also download the original version here.

Storytime Issue 55’s fable, Cat Trouble has been updated too. It’s a fresh new version of the Aesop classic, Belling the Cat. As ever, there’s a thought-provoking moral to discuss. Plus you can admire Erica Salcedo’s fun illustrations. We love the raspberry mouse hat!

For our Tales from Today section, we bring you Squirrel Spy School. You know how there’s always one sneaky squirrel who gets to the bird feeder first? Well, in this story, you can meet him and witness a bird backlash! Mili Koey’s art for this is so full of energy.

Llamas, magic birds and golden lakes in this Storytime Issue 55 tale from Ecuador. Art by Lujan Fernandez.

You can travel to Ecuador for our Around the World Tale. It’s truly magical and Lujan Fernandez‘s illustrations are a joy. When an Incan ruler requires water from a golden lake to cure his illness, a little girl sets off with her llama to save the day. Along the way she meets magical birds and fierce lake guardians. Though she has a little help, she’s brave and heroic.

Finally, Storytime Issue 55 ends with a Norse myth and Loki – as usual – is the cause of everyone’s problems. This time, he’s blackmailed by a giant into getting hold of Idun’s powerful anti-ageing apples. As you can imagine, Odin is unamused, especially by his new grey hairs and wrinkles. Good shapeshifting fun – and illustrator Saoirse Louise gave us a great cast of mythical characters.

So Why Subscribe to Storytime?

What other children’s magazine takes you around the globe and brings you eight stories old and new in every issue? Shares fantastic illustrations from talent all over the world? Squeezes in poetry, puzzles, activities, printables, games, colouring, book reviews, quizzes and competitions too? In Storytime Issue 55, we’ve poured in as much good stuff as we can to help your children develop a love of reading – and set them up for life. You can read more about that here.

If you didn’t subscribe in time to catch this particular issue, don’t worry – you can pick up Back Issues in our Storytime Shop. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in seeing what’s coming next month (it’s a goodie!), check out our Issues page.

 

Be a hero this month – read lots of stories! And make friends with a dragon. They’re not all bad.

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All-new Storytime Issue 54!

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Storytime Issue 54 is out now and it’s an issue that makes us immensely proud. After years of featuring famous fairy-tale princesses – the ones that get heaps of book, film and magazine coverage – we’re finally featuring a fairy-tale heroine we can relate to. Say hello to Molly Whuppie – vanquisher of giants and all-round cool kid. She’s brave, clever, witty and generous. And she appeals equally to boys and girls. Can you believe her story is over 100 years old? It makes you wonder why you don’t hear of her more often. Somebody write that film script now please.

Molly may be the star of Storytime Issue 54, but she has a rich and varied supporting cast – all brought to life by our team and incredible illustrators from all over the world.

This issue also includes the winner of our 50-Word Story Competition. Sophie Morgan Illingworth wrote the fun and clever Storytime Disaster, which was illustrated by Storytime favourite Gaby Zermeno, who has done a wonderful job of creating images that spring off the page. As well as having her story published in Storytime, Sophie won a special certificate and every Storytime issue we’ve ever printed for her collection. Congratulations, Sophie!

Find out more about the rest of Storytime Issue 54 here.

Inside Storytime Issue 54

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A scene from Welsh folk tale Guto and the Fairies. Art by Federica Tanania.

Our issue kicks off with a smart but simple lesson. Storytime Issue 54’s Famous Fable is The Giraffe and the Warthog – a tale about appreciating what you’ve got and accepting what others have too. Illustrator Nguyen Phung Quynh gave us animals bursting with character.

In Guto and the Fairies – an old folktale from Wales – a young boy encounters fairies in the Welsh mountains. Nobody believes that friendship with the fairies can come to any good, but Guto proves them wrong. We love Federica Tanania’s artwork for this.

Our new story, The Strongest Animal on Earth features acrobatic bugs galore and a dung beetle who doesn’t have many friends thanks to his unpleasant odour. However, when catastrophe strikes the insect circus, Barry the dung beetle might be the only one who can save the day. Rodolfo Velado captured his character perfectly in our illustrations. (Don’t forget to download our Amazing Minibeasts Sheet too!)

In our classic poem, Silly Simon (same poem you know and love, but with a more sensitive title), Simon gets up to all kinds of silliness. Kids will enjoy his lack of common sense and everyone will love Marisa Morea’s cute illustrations!

As mentioned, Molly Whuppie is Storytime Issue 54’s true heroine, along with Lucy Xue who provided the illustrations. Our lucky school subscribers will receive a free teaching resource pack to go with this story, which has lot of activities for the classroom. It comes with reading comprehension tasks, storyteller cards, writing prompts and much more. We’ve also started putting together a glossary covering tricky or new words across the whole issue. Find out more at our dedicated schools site.

From further afield, we bring you Juha the Joker – a legendary trickster figure in the Middle East. This story is super-simple but very funny – we think you’ll enjoy it! Tel Coelho gave Juha his mischievous look. Make sure you download our extra mini Juha stories from our freebies page too.

In our latest Storyland Adventure, illustrated as always by Giorgia Broseghini, Happy of the seven dwarfs wakes up and… shock horror… he’s feeling unhappy. The dwarfs’ usual routine is thrown into chaos, but can they help him find his happy again? You’ll have to read it to find out. However, we can tell you that it involves a great football match.

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Is Happy the man of the match? Find out in our latest Storyland Adventure. Art by Giorgia Broseghini.

Finally, we always like to put in a tale of love for Valentine’s Day and Storytime Issue 54’s is rather special. The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is a classic Chinese legend. It’s so famous, it’s celebrated every year. It might make you look at the stars differently. The wonderful Hahn Dung Ho illustrates this story beautifully.

With stories from Wales, China, India (our fable), the Middle East and the UK, we’ve travelled far and wide to bring you the best bedtime stories in the world. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we loved putting this magazine together. And, don’t forget, we have our usual mix of activities, a game, crafts, book recommendations and educational ideas too.

As always, let us know your thoughts. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! Until next time…

 

May you whup some giants this month!

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Storytime Issue 53 – Out Now!

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Happy New Year to you all and wishing you a happy new year of stories! If you’re lucky enough to have just started your subscription with Storytime Issue 53, then your children will have a real treat to this month. (And, in fact, every month for the rest of the year!)

Storytime Issue 53 sets the tone perfectly. It includes an imagination-boosting mix of fairy tales, a myth, a fable, a folktale, a new story, poetry and a funny story from Myanmar. Plus, there are activities, puzzles and crafts throughout the magazine and in our Storytime Playbox at the back. Oh, and this month, we’re challenging our readers to illustrate a Storytime cover. The winner will have his or her entry published in Storytime and receive some beautiful prints. Download a blank cover from our Freebies page to get started today!

But first, find out more about the stories and talent in Storytime Issue 53.

Inside Storytime Issue 53

Storytime Issue 53

Lex, the Not a Robot. Written by Holly Wallis and illustrated by Hugo Cuellar.

We love our vibrant cover and opening story for our Tales from Today section. Not a Robot was the brainchild of new writer and technology enthusiast Holly Wallis and Hugo Cuellar provided the brilliant illustrations. Can robots have feelings? Did the scientist do the right thing? In this age of AI, this story raises some interesting moral questions. What do you think?

Fans of Alphabet Zoo and Alphabet Ocean (from previous issues) should enjoy Alphabet Pet Shop. Mum and Dad finally give in and let the star of this poem have a pet. But with a whole alphabet to choose from, which animal will he pick? Perhaps you can help him decide. Thanks to James Loram for brining our pet shop to life.

In our fable from Africa, The Two-Coloured Coat, we have another thought-provoking story for you. Hopefully, it will encourage readers young and old to see things from a different point of view. Vera Zaytseva really captured the spirit of the characters in this story.

Storytime Issue 53

Find out which unlikely hero saves the day in The Naughty Goats. Art by Cristina Shiilia.

Next up we have funny folk tale The Naughty Goats with Cristina Shiilia’s lively illustrations. This story’s hero is most unexpected and comes with a message children will appreciate – never underestimate someone who’s small. As you’ll see, it’s a theme we like to come back to now and again.

For our Favourite Fairy Tale, we bring you The Talking Tree. You may not know it, but this story has it all – a brave king, a wicked witch, a scheming ogress, a princess trapped in a tree and magic ointments. Illustrator Teresa Martinez has given it a lovely whimsical feel and we think you’ll love it.

Why not do some armchair travelling and travel with us to Myanmar? We’ve got a fab little story about a chick with eyes bigger than its belly. Paula Pang illustrated this Around the World Tale, Little Chick and the Big Sneeze and it is just perfect. When you’ve just gotta sneeze, you’ve just gotta sneeze.

It’s hard to believe that we’re already on our fifth Storyland Adventure. In Storytime Issue 53, you can meet a few famous fairy-tale residents – Puss in Boots, the dreaded troll and one of the twelve dancing princesses. Find out what happens when they get together. Giorgia Broseghini‘s illustrations are glorious, as always.

Storytime Issue 53, Inuit myth, Sedna

An Inuit tale, Sedna the sea goddess, illustrated by Wiliam Luong.

Finally, we bring you a strange but powerful Inuit myth called Sedna the Sea Goddess – one of the most famous in Inuit culture. Poor Sedna’s life isn’t easy and we have tried to play down the brutal nature of this tale, while staying true to the heart of the story. Not all stories are sugar-coated and this one in particular gives a good insight into a vastly different way of life – and the realities of survival in a harsh environment. Wiliam Luong created the wonderful watery illustrations.

We have all this for you, plus book recommendations and a chance to win some of the best new picture books. You can also make a robot, draw your favourite pet and play a story-inspired board game! We hope you enjoy Storytime Issue 53 – and look forward to a feast of fantastic stories in the year ahead! 2019 is going to be extra-special.

 

Forget reading resolutions, let’s start a reading revolution!

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You Can’t Catch the Gingerbread Man!

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Every year, we send a reader survey asking how we’re doing and what you like and dislike. This year, to coincide with our new fairy-tale series, Storyland Adventures, we asked for your favourite fairy tale. The plan was to weave it into this new world if any stories came through that we hadn’t already considered. This time round, even before the survey had closed, the clear winner was The Gingerbread Man.

Four years ago when we asked the same question Cinderella won by a long chalk. Meanwhile, that edible rebel, The Gingerbread Man, came fifth. We have some theories on The Gingerbread Man‘s steady rise in popularity and Cinderella’s slow decline. See if you agree.

Why The Gingerbread Man Is So Popular

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Sorry, Cinderella. You’ve been knocked off the top spot! Art by Cathy Delanssay.

  • The Gingerbread Man is often part of the KS1 English curriculum in infant schools. It also works alongside areas such as Design and Technology (baking gingerbread). It’s frequently performed by infants for parents, therefore, it’s a story the whole family knows from an early age.
  • It’s a great gender-neutral story. The Gingerbread Man is more biscuit than man, really. That means there’s no reason for either gender to be put off by the content. Furthermore, there’s no reason for teachers to reject it because it doesn’t appeal widely enough.
  • On the flip side, Cinderella has a strong female cast, which we’ve been told (by parents and teachers) can be off-putting to boys. Some parents and teachers have gone so far as to say that boys will reject the story completely. Though we firmly believe that stories should be and are for everyone, we often encounter adults rejecting female-foscused stories on behalf of boys. This is usually before they have even had chance to read them! This and a rise in gender-neutral stories could be why Cindy has got knocked off her throne.
  • Cinderella‘s fall in popularity also reflects the fact that we now have a more even split between male and female readers. When we first launched Storytime, our readership skewed more strongly towards girls.
  • On top of this, Disney’s live-action revamp of Cinderella has been and gone (2015), so she’s not quite as fresh in everyone’s minds. Though it’s also been a while since we saw Gingy in Shrek, the fact that he’s often part of the curriculum and constantly on sale in supermarket bakeries puts him in a slightly stronger position! (Given his popularity, I wonder why Disney has never done a full-length Gingerbread Man film.)
  • Finally, The Gingerbread Man has many elements that appeal to kids and parents. It’s a short read and is easy to learn off by heart. It’s a simpler story than Cinderella with a catchy refrain and repetition that’s great to read out loud – and join in with. It also features farm animals and has an easily adaptable ending. You can have the fox eating him or have him escape, depending on how much peril your child can stand. (More on this below!) All in all, it’s slightly more accessible for younger children than Cinderella. Plus the Gingerbread Man is a cheeky rebel, and kids love this.

When we run this survey question again in a few years, it will be interesting to see who’s at the top. Will Ginger keep his crown? Will Cinderella stay in the top ten at all?

To round off our thoughts on The Gingerbread Man, we thought we’d share some fascinating facts about the original story.

5 Facts About The Gingerbread Man

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The Gingerbread Man on our Storytime 52 Christmas Issue, with art by Giorgia Broseghini.

1. The Gingerbread Man began life in a different edible form. There are similar folk tales all over the world, starring balls of dough, bread and pancakes. They all predate the first Gingerbread Man story. Perhaps the ginger version became so popular as ‘The Fleeing Pancake’ isn’t very catchy. Why not make up your own version using the local delicacy of your choice?

2. The Gingerbread Man came from America. It seems that it first appeared in print in the popular St Nicholas Magazine in 1875, having been passed down from generation to generation to the writer.

3. Like all good folk tales, it has gone through many changes. In the first US version, the Gingerbread Man ran away from farmhands as well as animals. Plus there was no river to cross – he was just caught by the fox. He also didn’t say his famous “Run, run as fast as you can” taunt. In later versions, he is lured towards the fox when the fox pretends he can’t hear him. Later still, the river crossing is introduced.

4. The original US ending is still the best. Some may find it too dark, but the “Oh dear, I’m quarter gone, half gone, three-quarters gone and all gone!” ending, and “he never spoke again” is something of a welcome surprise in an age of watered-down peril. I’ve seen it acted out by reception age children who grinned from ear to ear performing this part of the story. It’s dramatic and satisfying. After all, the Gingerbread Man is a biscuit baked to be eaten – and you can always bake another one! But not all kids can stomach it. For those, there are many versions where he gets the better of the fox. In Storytime Issue 2, we honoured the original ending (you can get it from our shop).

5. The Gingerbread Man story might never have happened without Queen Elizabeth. Back in the 16th century, Queenie asked the royal baker to rustle up gingerbread biscuits that looked like her guests. This is one of the earliest records of gingerbread men. She wasn’t the only one at it – ladies of the court sometimes ate gingerbread versions of their husbands to bring them luck. It’s also thought that young maidens gave them as gifts to would-be partners, in the hope they would fall in love. Perhaps that’s why the story Gingerbread Man was running away!

 

To all The Gingerbread Man fans out there, we hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Ginger on the front cover of our Christmas issue. He’s the star of our latest Storyland Adventures along with a very special festive character.

This year’s Storytime survey has shown a notable shift in fairy-tale favourites in a remarkably short space of time. We can’t wait to see how it changes again in the future.

 

For now, all this talk of gingerbread men has made me hungry, so I’m off to catch one!

 

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Gingerbread Man working hard in his bakery in Storytime 52. Art by Giorgia Broseghini.

Storytime Issue 52: Christmas 2018 Special!

kids magazine subscriptions, storytime magazine issue 52, storytime issue 52, festive special, christmas special, gingerbread manRead, read as fast as you can… Our Christmas 2018 Special (Storytime Issue 52) is jingling its way to you and, once you’ve got it, you won’t want to read anything else! That’s because we’ve packed this festive special with so many great stories – classic and contemporary – and you’ll have such a nice time snuggling up with them, you’ll wish Christmas lasted longer.

Apart from our stories and the usual mix of activities, puzzles, colouring and a wordsearch, in this issue, we’ve teamed up with the charity KidsOut to donate Storytime issues to children living in refuges. You can find out more here and read about the story inspired by this charity below.

After all, Christmas is a time for giving – and giving stories is one of the best presents of all.

Now, here’s what’s inside Storytime Issue 52 and praise for our contributors.

Inside Storytime Issue 52 – Our Sparkling Christmas Special!

Brer Rabbit makes his second Storytime appearance in Brer Rabbit’s Christmas Dinner, which also features Brer Fox. (They both also appear in Storytime Issue 19, which you can pick up here.) This time, it’s Brer Fox who’s up to no good, and Brer Rabbit who has to seek revenge. As you’d expect, this mischievous American trickster does so with style! We’re in love with Maria Laura Brenlla‘s quirky illustrations for this story.

Pudding Charms by Charlotte Druitt Cole is this issue’s poem – a traditional rhyme about the joy of making Christmas puddings. This pudding is extra-special, as it has a helping hand from a fairy godmother! We have Letizia Rizzo to thank for the wonderful illustrations and dreamy colour scheme.

We can’t resist snowy bears, so our Famous Fable is The Bears and the Sack (a modern retelling of Aesop’s The Travellers and the Purse with added wolves). It’s a story about sharing with friends, so it’s perfect for this time of the year. Miru Kim‘s illustrations are just adorable.

For Storyteller’s Corner, we’ve updated an old folktale – Christmas on the Farm – and given it a smattering of European folklore magic. Without giving too much away, it features magical animals and we’re certain kids will love it. They might even try to copy the boy in the story and ask for a second Christmas tree… sorry about that! Alena Tkach‘s artwork for this tale is perfect, so don’t miss the final scene.

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Santa puts in a special appearance in Storytime Issue 52’s Gingerbread Man story. Art by Giorgia Broseghini.

Storyland Adventures is back with a new story from the world of fairy tales. This time, Gingerbread Man’s Baking Challenge sees our edible hero lose his cool when he has too much work and nobody to help him. Things take a turn for the worse when he gets a huge order from a mystery customer. Will he get it done in time and who placed the order? You’ll have to buy the issue to find out. Giorgia Broseghini‘s brilliant illustrations grace our cover and the story.

The Toy Tree is a new story by Nicky Saint, written especially for our Christmas issue. It was inspired by charity giving trees. If you haven’t heard of them, a giving tree is a Christmas tree covered with charity tags. Each tag has a child’s name and age on it. The idea is that you take a tag and buy a gift to donate to a child supported by the charity. Also inspired by this idea, for every copy of Storytime purchased from our Back Issue Shop until Christmas, we’ll donate an issue to KidsOut. Find out more about it here. We hope the story fills you with charitable thoughts and that you enjoy Marie Vanderbemden‘s illustrations.

Our Myths and Legends section travels to Iceland – home of the famous Yule Lads. They’re Iceland’s version of Santa Claus, but a lot smaller and cheekier. It’s great to show kids what Christmas is like in other cultures, so this story is ideal for that. And with names like Spoon Licker and Sausage Swiper, the Yule Lads are bound to cause some chuckles! Artist Audrey Molinatti tackled these tricky treaters and gave us a gorgeous snowy landscape to admire.

Finally – tissues at the ready – Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl closes Storytime Issue 52. Our readers have requested this story so many times, we felt we had to share a sympathetic version in this issue. It still has all the emotion of the original, but feels a little less brutal. Monique Dong’s beautiful illustrations also help make it less heart-wrenching.

 

There are many positive messages in Storytime Issue 52 – some subtle and some not so subtle. Most good stories carry some kind of message and this latest selection is just right to share at Christmas. But it’s not all serious – there are plenty of laughs too. We love funny stories at Storytime. And you can have fun solving puzzles, decorating gingerbread pictures and completing our Christmas wordsearch at the back of the issue.

Storytime Issue 52 is a festive bundle of fun and we hope you love it!

Kind Christmas wishes to you all,

 

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Storytime Supports KidsOut Charity

KidsOut, storytime magazine, magazine subscriptions for kidsCan you help us spread some story love this Christmas and bring joy to children living in refuges?

Between now and December 24th, for every Storytime back issue you purchase in our shop, we will donate a Storytime issue to the amazing children’s charity KidsOut.

KidsOut works hard all year round to bring fun and happiness to disadvantaged children living in refuges across the UK. Their mission is simple – to make kids happy through fun days out and events.

At Christmas, their focus turns to kids in refuge who won’t get any gifts at all, while children up and down the country unwrap piles of presents.

KidsOut, Storytime magazine, charity donation, back issues, kids magazine subscriptions, christmas gifts for kidsBecause children in refuges deserve to have a magical Christmas too, KidsOut launched a Giving Tree scheme. Instead of doing ‘Secret Santa’, every year, they urge companies and individuals across the UK to contact them for Christmas tree tags. Each tag has a gift suggestion on it for a child who is in a refuge. The idea is that you take a tag, buy the gift on it and then send the gifts to KidsOut. KidsOut’s brilliant army of volunteers then distribute the gifts to shelters across the UK. That way, no child goes without a Christmas gift.

Last year’s Giving Tree scheme provided children in refuge with over 18,000 toys and board games to play with on Christmas Day, thanks to the generosity of people like you.

You can find out more about it in our Christmas issue (posting out tomorrow, Friday December 6), which features The Toy Tree – a story inspired by the Giving Tree idea. We hope it will encourage some Christmas kindness.

Here at Storytime, we love what KidsOut do and we’d really like to add Storytime issues to the Christmas stockings of children in refuge. So if you’re looking for stocking fillers, then why not buy a Storytime back issue? We’ll tot up every issue you purchase until Christmas and then donate the same number of issues to KidsOut. That way, children in refuge also get the gift of stories this year.

Buy a Storytime issue and help us give children in refuge a happier story this Christmas!

 

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5 Reasons To Give a Storytime Subscription For Christmas

Give a Storytime Subscription for Christmas

So, we admit that this post is a little biased. However, we genuinely believe that to give a Storytime subscription for Christmas is one of the loveliest and most life-enhancing things you can do for a child.

And there’s still plenty of time to do it! This year (2018), we’re closing our subscription deadline for our special Christmas issue – starring Gingerbread Man – on Friday December 14th. Subscribe before midnight on this date and you’ll get our December issue in plenty of time to wrap and sneak under the tree.

We have a great Christmas subscription offer here.

Alternatively, you can subscribe now and start your subscription in January 2019. If it’s a Christmas present, just give the lucky recipient a gift card to let them know Storytime is coming! We have a gift certificate you can download here.

Now, back to that life-enhancing bit… We’ve got five reasons to back up that bold statement!

 

Why You Should Give a Storytime Subscription For Christmas

    • 1. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. In the digital age, getting old-fashioned post has never been more exciting. If you’re a child, getting old-fashioned post actually addressed to you is the best thing ever. How to top that? Subscribe to Storytime and your child gets post addressed to them every month for a whole year! Even better, it comes in a beautiful illustrated envelope with loads of gorgeous stories. Think about what your child got for Christmas a year ago. How many gifts are they still enjoying now? It’s a fact – Storytime deliveries result in spontaneous outbreaks of smiles.

 

    • 2. Storytime offers quality and quantity. Not many products can make that claim. For the price of a subscription, not only do you get a magazine every month, inside every issue, you get heaps of high-quality, educator-approved fun and lively content. You can enjoy seven or eight stories, one or two poems, activities, puzzles, a craft, a game, book recommendations and competitions. Plus we have fabulous free downloads! At 52 pages, we are one of the thickest children’s magazines out there, yet we cost the same as flimsier magazines on the newsstand. Did we mention our paper quality too? Storytime magazine is built to last. It’s a gift you can treasure for years to come.

 

    • 3. Storytime helps children fall in love with reading. It’s true and we have the research to back it up. A whopping 84.6% of reluctant or struggling readers say they enjoy reading more after receiving Storytime every month. One parent said, “My son’s vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds because we read this magazine together.” But Storytime isn’t just for reluctant or struggling readers – it’s for any child anywhere. Stories no know bounds. They should be shared with readers young and old, beginner or expert. We design our magazine so you can read it to younger children, and then prepare yourself to be blown away when they start reading it to you!

 

    • 4. Storytime opens up a whole new world to children. Think of Storytime as several great books squeezed between two beautifully designed covers. Like a good book, it will transport your child to places you never thought possible. We pride ourselves on featuring a wide variety of tales in every issue from different cultures and eras. On one page, you might zoom into space, in another you might meet an African warrior. Stick with us for the year of your subscription and you’ll visit at least 30 countries – probably more. And you’ll do it all from the comfort of your armchair. Adventure, travel and magic – all designed to boost reading, build empathy and ignite creativity in your child.

 

  • 5. Storytime brings families together. This is possibly the most life-enhancing reason to give a Storytime subscription for Christmas! When Storytime arrives, it’s your free pass to cosy up and indulge in stories together. Storytime is you time and there’s no better way to build lasting, happy memories for your child to look back on. Storytime has always been about bringing generations together. This is the magic ingredient that makes stories have the most lasting impact – and the strongest influence on your child’s feelings about reading. If you read happily, then your child is more likely to follow suit. But more than that, reading stories together is just pure lovely.

 

We think that’s five great reasons to give a Storytime subscription for Christmas and hope you agree!

As we mentioned, we have a great offer on at the moment to make Storytime even more accessible for you. Drop us a line if you have any questions at hello(at)storytimemagazine(dot)com and very best wishes to you!

 

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All-New Storytime Issue 51

Storytime Issue 51, magazine subscriptions for kids, kids magazine subscriptions, Christmas gift subscriptions for kids, Christmas gifts for kids, Perez the MouseWe love bringing you stories from other cultures and Storytime Issue 51 is a shining example of that. Our cover story this month comes from the Spanish author, Luis Coloma. It features Spain’s version of the tooth fairy – an adventurous little mouse called Perez. It’s the first time one of our Around the World Tales has made the cover, but we’re sure it won’t be the last. What better way is there to brighten winter’s gloom than to indulge in some international travel?

Also in Storytime Issue 51, among other wonderful tales, we bring you an African myth, a folk tale from America and a fairy tale from Scandinavia. Find out more about the latest issue of Storytime below and the talent behind each story.

 

Inside Storytime Issue 51

Storytime issue 51, Anansi, kids magazine subscriptions,

Anansi learns a lesson in Storytime Issue 51’s myth from Africa. Art by Julio Antonio Blasco Lopez.

As mentioned above, our myth comes from Africa and features that amazing trickster, Anansi the spider. This time, he’s in the classic story Anansi’s Pot of Wisdom. Julio Antonio Blasco Lopez’s brilliantly quirky illustrations fit the story perfectly and, without giving too much away, kids should appreciate the ending. This month, school and home educator subscribers get a free Anansi Resource Pack with classroom activities and lesson ideas. Find out more here.

Our new fairy-tale series, which is set in Storyland, continues with Jack and the Beanstalk in Jack’s Magic Harp Band. Jack is back in town and he’s excited about performing. However, when he loses his voice, he is forced to hold emergency auditions. If you need a reminder of who lives where in Storyland, download the map here. Storyland’s official illustrator, Giorgia Broseghini, created the gorgeous art for this story and the map.

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A silly sage gets in a spin in our Storytime Issue 51 poem A Tragic Story. Art by Sean Longcroft.

Our poem should make you chuckle, as it’s packed with hair-raising silliness. It tells the story of how a man’s pigtail gets the better of him. A Tragic Story was written by 19th century satirist and Vanity Fair author, William Makepeace Thackeray. Sean Longcroft provides the suitably silly art.

Rosaria Battiloro returns to Storytime to illustrate a sweet American folk tale – Mrs Mumble’s Apple Crumble. (Rosaria previously illustrated an Irish story for Storytime Issue 33.) This story has a delicious ending and an apple crumble recipe to download too!

We don’t just take you around the world in this issue, we also travel in time with a schoolboy called Tyler. It’s a new story from first-time writer and sci-fi fan Alex Evans, with illustrations by Werllen Holanda. We hope you enjoy your trip to the future. It should also provoke some interesting conversations about the tools we use today. Will they still be around in centuries to come?

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Perez the Mouse impresses the king in Storytime Issue 51! Art by Elena Aiello.

We chose our cover story, Perez the Mouse, because we know kids find it mind-boggling that different cultures don’t follow the same traditions. In the UK, we have the tooth fairy, but in Spain (and other Hispanic and European countries, including France), a little mouse takes your baby teeth away. You can find out more about him in the issue and enjoy more of Elena Aiello’s illustrations.

This issue’s Famous Fable, The Woodpecker and the Lion provides an interesting counterpoint to the better-known The Lion and the Mouse (from Storytime Issue 2). Why not read the two fables in one sitting and compare their moral lessons? You could also compare the illustrations. Tihomir Celanovic created this issue’s majestic lion and illustrated King Duck for Storytime Issue 29.

Finally, we round off Storytime Issue 51 with a Favourite Fairy Tale from Scandinavia – The Princess on the Glass Hill. Boots is a familiar character in many Scandi stories. He’s the hard-done-by younger brother who’s usually picked on by older brothers or grossly underestimated by his parents. Boots, as you’d hope, always proves everyone wrong. You can see him surpass expectations in this story wearing a suit of golden armour, no less. Emanuela di Donna’s illustrations are lots of fun too.

 

As well as our stories, you’ll find story-linked puzzles, a memory test, a mousey make, hairy drawing, a game and a competition. You can also win three musical books from Quarto, which are perfect for Christmas. Enter here for a chance to win.

Speaking of which, if you like Storytime Issue 51, then you’ll LOVE our Christmas issue. It features Gingerbread Man, Santa, Christmas pudding, magical farm animals, Christmas trees, Brer Rabbit and more. If you’re considering getting someone a Christmas gift subscription, make sure you do so by November 27. That way, the issue will reach them (or you) on time. After that point, you can buy it from our Back Issue Shop and get it in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, let us know if Perez the Mouse visits you this month! Happy reading,

 

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Illustrator Interview: Marko Renko

Illustrator Interview with Marko Renko, Marko Renko, Storytime magazine, storytime, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kidsOur readers have been pretty wowed this month by our stunning Storytime 50th Issue cover for the marvellous and magical folk tale, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. All credit for this striking illustration goes to the amazing Marko Renko who is based in Ljubljana in Slovenia.

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Marko’s illustration for Stanley and the Rampaging Robot, Storytime 32.

Long-time subscribers might recognise Marko Renko’s work, as he’s illustrated for us before. He created the artwork for Stanley and the Rampaging Robot – a new story in Storytime Issue 32 by Stan Byford. Marko’s exquisite attention to detail and use of colour for this story just blew us away and we knew we had to work with him again. Luckily, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice felt like just the right story and, even better, it was for a very special issue.

We were very grateful that Marko took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. We hope you find lots of inspiration here!

Illustrator Interview with Marko Renko

 

1. How did you get started in illustration? Have you always been arty?

Yes, I think I have always been arty. At least my school books and tables were always full of doodles and cartoons. When the school subject was boring to me, I started doodling and the canvas was whatever was available at hand. The teachers were not always happy about that. Drawing was always one of my favorite things to do. So the career kind of just happened.

 

2. Do you have any favourite artists or illustrators who have influenced your work and why?

There are so many. Every time I go online I feel bombarded by inspiration from people all over the world. Sometimes I get inspired by an old masters painting, other times by a quick sketch from someone on social media. To just point out a few at the top of my list: Jonny Duddle, Robb Mommaerts, Mike Bear, Goro Fujita and Daisuke Tsutsumi. One of the biggest influencers on me as a kid, was the Slovenian comic-book artist and illustrator Miki Muster. He was just a wonderfull artist and storyteller. As I get older, I try to get the most inspiration from nature itself. The world and things in it will never let you down on inspiration.

 

3. What’s your favourite place to draw?

As I mentioned above, I feel that everything around us can be interpreted as a beautiful piece of art, but my favourite places are usually somewhere beyond the city and concrete walls. I’m always drawn to natural and organic motifs. Maybe it has something to do with me growing up in a woody, rural area. So my idyllic place to draw would probably be a small cottage near some hills, trees and creeks.

 

4. What’s your favourite fairy tale or children’s book. Is there one you’d love to illustrate?

I love adventure, magic and fantasy, so I like a lot of old fairy-tale classics. One of my favourite stories as a kid was definitely Robin Hood. I loved spending my afternoons running around the woods and climbing trees with my brother – making tree houses and chasing down imaginary villains. So some day, I would love to illustrate a story along those lines. A mysterious adventure somewhere in an ancient forest.

Marko Renko, Storytime magazine, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids

A stunning illustration from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Marko Renko in Storytime Issue 50.

 

5. We’ve been so lucky to work with you on Stanley and the Rampaging Robot and now The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. How do you go about creating your characters?

First I read the story a couple of times. I need to meet the character and get to know them. I try to imagine what they are thinking, where they come from and what is their back story. Based on this, I try to visualise how they look. Sometimes I go online and search for inspiration there. Sometimes a someone you know can be an inspiration. The great Glen Keane‚ a character artist and animator‚ said that you are not inventing a character but searching for it. So it usually takes a lot of drawings, but when you find the one you know.

 

6. Are there any projects you’re working on you can tell us about?

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a couple of children’s books that can be personalised. You can name your hero or heroine and choose how will they look in the book. So every book that is made, is one of a kind.

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One of Marko’s continuing projects.

 

7. Is there any work from the past that makes you particularly proud?

I’ve worked on a couple of different projects, but my favourites are children’s stories and books. I think my favourite to date is a book about pirates and magical pearls. I’ve always been a sucker for pirates so drawing those buccaneers was a real blast.

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An awesome pirate adventure, illustrated by Marko in his meticulous style.

 

8. What’s your preferred creative medium and why?

I have no preferred medium. I love them all. Nowadays, digital is almost a must in a professional and commercial world. It’s the most practical. But then there are gouache and watercolors for those Sunday hikes and outdoor painting. Pencil and ink for cold and cozs autumn afternoons. And there is always that fun, adventurous feeling of experimenting with a completely new medium.

 

9. Are there any different areas you’d like to explore in the future?

My dream for a while has been to try writing. I’ve always wanted to illustrate my own stories. And I’ve never done anything in self publishing, so I’d like to try that someday. There is something special in being free to write and draw whatever you want. Of course, I imagine it is quite challenging too, but that can be a good thing.

 

10. Is there any advice you can give to children (or aspiring illustrators) who want to get into illustration?

Have fun and love what you do. It takes a lot of work to always improve, so you really need to love it to get through those rough times. But I strongly believe if you love it enough, you will work on it enough to get better. And sooner or later people will find your art and they’ll want to buy it. Also, don’t forget it takes time. Not weeks and months, but years and decades. So don’t rush it, just enjoy it!


 

Sage words for any illustrator’s apprentices out there! If you’d like to see more of Marko Renko’s work, particularly his nature drawings, be sure to follow his Instagram account, which is a real treat. And if you’d like to find out more about our rather special 50th issue, click here or head straight over to our Back Issue Shop and grab a copy before they’re magicked away!

 

See you next time for more story inspiration,

 

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