Why Cumulative Stories Are Cool!

storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, old woman and her pig, cumulative stories, chain tales, best bedtime stories, best magazines for kidsOnce upon a time, there was company called Luma and they wanted to publish a wonderful story magazine for children, so they went to the bank and asked for some money, but the bank said, “No. We can’t help you until you’ve found a big magazine distribution company to work with.” So they went to the big magazine distribution company and told them they could only get money from the bank with their help, but the big magazine distribution company said, “No. We can’t help you until you’ve found a good printer.” So they went to a good printer and told them they could only find a big magazine distribution company to work with and get money from the bank with their help, and the printer said…

You get the idea. In this week’s blog, we’re talking about cumulative stories – also known as chain tales. These fun folk tales and rhymes form an important part of the story cannon, and they exist in every culture around the world.

In our latest issue, Storytime 35, we’ve got a classic cumulative story you might remember from your own childhood: The Old Woman and her Pig (with fantastic illustrations by Cristina Yépez). There are variants of this folk tale all over Europe and, though it’s a story you hear less often today, it still goes down brilliantly with kids. Why is that?

Repetition, Humour and Brilliant Endings

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we think it’s down to that magic story ingredient: repetition. Stories with repetition allow children to appreciate the rhythm of a text and anticipate what’s coming next, which makes them feel smart. Even better, it allows them to participate in a meaningful way. But there are more reasons why repetition is important in children’s stories and you can read them here.

Another winning feature of cumulative stories is the humour. As the story gets longer and more convoluted, the list of characters involved usually becomes wackier; and the actions that unfold more surreal. You feel like you’re being led along a safe path of repetition until, suddenly – as in The Old Woman and her Pig – she’s having a chat with a pond or persuading a rope to return to its owner.

But probably the best thing of all about cumulative stories is the ending, when the repetition reaches its climax, followed by a swift and satisfying conclusion. The grand finale is always full of rhythm and great fun to read aloud, but do remember to take a deep breath before you get stuck in! Cumulative stories have their own unique reading style and, if you can relax and get into it, reading them can be an enjoyable experience, which truly engages your child.

So if you loved The Old Woman and her Pig and want to try some more cumulative stories, here are a few gems we recommend:

6 More Cumulative Stories for Children


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There Was an Old Lady… a cumulative rhyme from Storytime Issue 5, illustrated by Irene Dickson

1. The Gingerbread Man – This classic fairytale is so popular with toddlers, and it has many international variants. You’ll find it in Storytime Issue 2.

2. The House that Jack Built – Cumulative rhymes have a long history too – and are still much loved by children. Don’t miss our version in Storytime Issue 16.

3. Henny Penny – Sometimes known as Chicken Little or Chicken Licken, a hen convinces a series of friends that the sky is falling in. Read it in Storytime Issue 19.

4. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly – Another enduringly popular cumulative rhyme, with really fun illustrations in Storytime Issue 5.

5. The Red Mitten – A lovely winter’s tale with adorable animals, which featured in our cosy Christmas Storytime Issue 27.

6. The Enormous Turnip – A much-loved preschool fairy tale from Russia, which featured in Storytime Issue 29.


In future, we’d also love to feature Tikki Tikki Tembo – a cumulative story from China about the challenges of giving your child an exceedingly long and ridiculous name. And if you’re looking for a cumulative story in book form, you can do no better than the brilliant Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss.

How do you feel about cumulative stories – do you love or hate reading them? Any top story-reading tips to share with other parents or teachers? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Let’s spread the reading knowledge and love.


By the way, we should say that our own cumulative story had a happy ending!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 35 Is Out Now!

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Like Thumbelina (which we featured in Storytime Issue 17), there are versions of the Tom Thumb story all over the world, but we loved the Arthurian finale in this one, and hope children enjoy tiny Tom’s adventures. Schools subscribing to Storytime will receive our free Tom Thumb pack, filled with lesson ideas and activities linked to the story, and all readers can download goodies for our Tom Thumb game in the back of the issue.

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The Old Woman and her Pig in Storytime Issue 35, illustrated by Cristina Yepez

As usual, the latest issue of Storytime is bursting at the seams with a wide variety of stories and a visual feast of illustration styles – something for everyone! In Storyteller’s Corner, we have a true classic – a story that many parents will have grown up with – The Old Woman and her Pig, with rich and characterful illustrations by Cristina Yepez. We’ll write more about this and the joy of reading chain tales in a future blog.

Our latest fable, The Butterfly and the Rose teaches a lesson about loyalty, and will transport you to a summer garden in full bloom thanks to our illustrations by Fernanda Ribeiro.

More diminutive characters come in our poem The Rainbow Fairies by Lizzie M Hadley. It’s charming, it’s colourful and it has gorgeous illustrations by Anoosha Syed.

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I Want to Be a Pencil Sharpener – story by Eszter Molnar and illustrations by Jess Pauwels

Our newly commissioned story, I Want to Be a Pencil Sharpener, is brought to you by former primary school teacher Eszter Molnar, who has been conjuring up stories since she was a child, but has been taking it more seriously since having children of her own. Do show your support over at her site Maisie’s Reading Corner and on Facebook. Illustrations are by the amazing Jess Pauwels, who has really captured the spirit and humour of this lovely story.

As ever, Alphabet Zoo, illustrated by animal wrangler extraordinaire, Tim Budgen, brings you rhyming magic and mayhem. We’ve reached letters H and I, which means wacky hyenas, wallowing hippos, cool iguanas and a mountaineering ibex. Do not miss our free monthly packs, which you can download here. They come with facts, jokes, puzzles and animal alphabet posters to collect.

Ali’s Dream is our Around the World Tale from Yemen and features a well-known character in the Middle East, Clever Ali – professional fixer of problems. Ali does it in style in this funny story illustrated by Pamela Wehrhahne.

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An eagle sorceress takes on a Finnish god in The Sampo. Art by Ana Varela

Finally, Storytime Issue 35 has our first Finnish myth all about the incredible Sampo. What it a Sampo? You’ll just have to read the issue to find out, but we can tell you that the story involves gods, a shape-shifting sorceress, a magical furnace and a thrilling battle – all brought to life in wonderful illustrations by Ana Varela. You might recognise Ana’s work from Storytime Issue 14 and our myth Atlanta and the Golden Apples.

There’s more to Storytime than stories, so you can also look forward to activity ideas and suggestions throughout the issue, including puzzles, drawing, colouring, a craft, book recommendations and a bumper prize bundle from Little Tiger Press too! Make sure you enter here. As we say in the issue, we’re all about short stories with big ideas.


Happy reading this month – let us know our favourites in Storytime Issue 35 on Twitter or Facebook! We’d love to hear from you.

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

The Wonderful World of Myths

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In the UK’s book publishing industry and education world, most of the emphasis is on learning about or reading Greek myths. Many of them make great stories, and they tie in with curriculum studies of Ancient Greece. We get it.

Norse myths probably come second in exposure, perhaps with thanks to Marvel’s Thor (which we’ve written about here), but public awareness of myths and legends of other great civilisations is horribly lagging behind.

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Is Perseus and Medusa the Jack and the Beanstalk of the myth world? (Art by Phill Hosking)

At school, there may be exposure to the odd Sita and Rama or Egyptian underworld myth, but in the wider world, Theseus and the Minotaur (or Perseus and Medusa) have become the Jack and the Beanstalk of myths, while Pandora is our Cinderella. In short, we keep telling the same stories from just one location over and over again. It’s a bit mad when you think about it.

Stuck in a rut with Greek myths?

I think, just like the world of fairy tales, we’ve got stuck in a rut with exploring, revamping and publishing the same old Greek myths. Do this often enough over the course of a century, and they become the myths that readers know and love best. The myths that readers expect – and even ask for.

It’s for that reason we’ve featured many of Greek mythology’s greatest hits in Storytime so far, but we’ve also been sneaking in some lesser known myths and legends too. Our reason for this is that we don’t want you – our readers – to miss out on truly great stories. Would you really want the same slice of chocolate cake for dessert every day if you could also try chocolate cake supreme?

I suppose the other reason, which we use to justify many of our choices in Storytime (see here), is because we can. And also because, if we don’t, we worry that this ‘safe bet’ approach will just run and run for decades or even centuries to come, and we’ll completely lose interest in myths and legends that aren’t Greek or Norse. We’ll raise generations of kids who’ve never heard of great fictional heroes and heroines from all over the world. We’ll unwittingly place barriers between ourselves and other cultures. We’ll contribute to an end of global thinking – and we definitely don’t want to be part of that.

A world of myths in your hand

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White Buffalo Calf Woman, a Sioux story illustrated by Georgia Broseghini.

In our latest issue, Storytime 34, we feature a wonderful Sioux legend – White Buffalo Calf Woman. When her people are on the brink of starvation, she brings forth the peace pipe and shows them how to use it in rituals and celebrations to save themselves. This story resonates so strongly in Sioux culture that, even today, to see a white buffalo is considered a sacred event. White Buffalo Calf Woman isn’t just a saviour of the people, she’s powerful, terrifying, benevolent and knowledgeable – like the best Greek gods. And probably better than most Greek goddesses, who often end up subjugating themselves or living in sufferance. The stunning illustrations for this legend are by Giorgia Broseghini.

White Buffalo Calf Woman is our kind of legend, but for other lesser known myths and legends in Storytime, you might like to check out these stories (all available from our Back Issue Shop):

The Hero Twins – a Mayan underworld myth in Storytime Issue 4, featuring football and the origin of the sun and the moon.

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Finn MacCool fights the good fight in Storytime Issue 7. Art by Tim Paul.

Finn MacCool – an Irish legend in Storytime Issue 7 with giants, humour and the origin of the Giant’s Causeway.

The Great GilgameshStorytime Issue 11’s Mesopotamian myth about a deadly beast and the two heroic friends who take it down.

The Queen of Winter – a Scottish legend in Storytime Issue 15 about the origins of spring and how the rule of a cold-hearted queen is put to an end.

The Golden Staff – a dramatic South American myth from Storytime Issue 20 about the founding of the Incan civilisation.

Ra’s Secret Name – an Egyptian myth about how the goddess Isis tricked mighty Ra into revealing his true name and handing over his powers, in Storytime Issue 22.

Ganesha and the Golden Mango – a funny and clever Indian myth, which tells how elephant-headed god Ganesha became so prominent, in Storytime Issue 25.

Momotaro the Peach Boy – a Japanese myth in Storytime Issue 26 about a young boy, born from a peach, who slays an island of ogres.

AND coming up in Storytime Issue 36, we have the story of the goddess Pele, and how she came to rule over the volcanoes of Hawaii. We can’t wait!

Travel through time with us

In combination with our Around the World Tales, which feature a story from a different culture every month, we hope that we are expanding our young readers’ minds and taking them on amazing adventures through time and around the globe. But most of all, we hope we are giving them a taste for more than the usual Greek myths. There’s a wonderful world of myths and legends out there.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ll always have a place for Greek myths in Storytime, but it’s time for us – and everyone else – to make room for myths and legends from other cultures too.

What are your favourite myths and legends? Any we should be featuring? Let me know via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. You can even drop us a line via Youtube! (Something Neil Gaiman’s Media might appreciate.)


Do us a favour, choose a different myth this week,

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)


*Read more about our thoughts on fairy tales in the publishing world here, and get some recommendations for fun fairy tales you never knew.

5 Grimm Fairy Tales To Read Today

storytime magazine, brothers grimm, fairy tales, kids magazine subscriptions, bedtime stories, kids magazinesIn Storytime Issue 34, we feature a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, which, at least in the UK, is one of their lesser-known stories. It was originally called Jorinde and Joringel, but we’ve called it The Magic Flower.

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In The Magic Flower, the wicked sorceress turns Jorinde into a bird. Art here and top by Erika Meza

It has all the elements you’d expect from a classic Grimm fairy tale:

• An enchanted castle in the woods
• A wicked sorceress with a penchant for turning young women into caged birds
• A young couple in love
• Their love put in jeopardy
• A hero’s quest
• A flower that breaks any dark spell

My favourite character in this Grimm fairy tale is a little old lady with a twinkle in her eye. She gives the hero a bedtime drink, which enables him to dream the location of the magic flower. Is she the real hero of the story? Who is she? I like to think she’s the sorceress’s good-hearted twin sister.

Of course, everybody has heard of Hansel and Gretel, Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin and Snow White, and we’ve featured them all in past Storytime issues (you can pick them up from our Back Issue Shop). But there are many more Grimm fairy tales, like Jorinde and Joringel, which don’t get the same exposure as these more famous ones. Some of them are just too old-fashioned, dark or violent for a young readership, but many still make fantastic reads. With that in mind, here are five of our favourite ‘unknown’ Grimm fairy tales, some of which might make it into the pages of Storytime in future.

Great Grimm Fairy Tales You’ve Never Heard Of…


1. The Three Spinners. This tale of a lazy young woman who can’t be bothered to spin, yet unintentionally ends up being the queen’s spinner is one of my all time favourites. Three spinners with striking and unusual features come to her rescue, but only on the proviso that she treats them as her cousins, which she has no qualms about. What I love about this tale is that cheating works in the young woman’s favour and there is no moral lesson. In fact, it all works out rather well for her. Lazy she is, and lazy she stays. It’s a tale for rebels of the idle variety.

2. Mother Holle. Better known in Germany, this tale has a classic theme: the virtuous, industrious sister versus the lazy sister, but with some delightful additions: a secret world at the bottom of a well, an old lady who shakes out her feather bed to create snowflakes and a smart-witted talking crow. The sisters get just what they deserve and the ending is wonderfully visual.

3. Queen Bee. A young ‘simpleton’ brother getting the better of his two older brothers is another recurring theme in the world of fairy tales, but there’s something pleasing about the way this story unfolds and in the simpleton brother’s respect for nature. He ends up forming some unlikely alliances, which help him tackle a series of impossible challenges. And his two brothers get off lightly too. Another great Simpleton-done-good tale is The Poor Miller’s Apprentice and the Cat – if only for the imagery of a castle run entirely by cats and kittens.

4. Clever Gretel. While not suitable for young Storytime readers, parents might enjoy this funny story about a talented cook who, bored of waiting for her master’s guest to arrive, swigs a little too much wine and ends up eating their dinner. When the guest finally arrives, Gretel uses her considerable wits to explain the disappearance of their meal. You can’t help wanting to applaud her ingenuity.

5. Hans My Hedgehog. Though this story needs to be updated for the young and modern reader, it’s worth reading for its sheer madness and creativity. Hans is a human in the guise of a hedgehog who rears pigs, rides on the back of a rooster, and plays bagpipes. The premise is a common theme in fairy tales: “I want to have a child, even if it’s a…” And the ending is 100% fairy tale too – Hans marries the princess. The image of hedgehog Hans riding a rooster is quite irresistible.


Are you familiar with these tales already? Are there any Grimm fairy tales you love that we’ve missed out here – or that you’d like to see in Storytime? Let us know via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to hear from you. And if you’re interested in lesser-known fairy tales, read our thoughts on Forgotten Fairy Tales too. We’re intent on bringing them back!


Happy reading all – have a Grimm week!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Why Stories Are For Everyone!

stories are for everyone, storytime magazine, magazine subscriptions for kids, gift subscriptions for kids, asian superhero, girl superhero, kids magazine subscriptionsOne of the great things about running your own company and having a very small team is that you can make things happen without having to get them approved by a huge committee or several tiers of management. You can make a decision and see the result within weeks, instead of years.

So when enough of our readers comment, “Hey, I love your magazine, but I’d love to see these types of stories or characters in it,” we can respond quickly. Or when we see something in the publishing world that makes us uneasy, we can carry out our own little rebellion in Storytime.

Our latest cover for Storytime Issue 34 is a result of both of the above. When author Paul Bristow approached us with his story Superhero Supermarket, we immediately loved it and saw it as an opportunity to answer two ongoing issues:


1. Comments from BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) children and parents who feel under-represented in children’s literature. Particularly friends with children who just can’t understand why they can’t see ‘themselves’ in the stories they read. Diversity is something we’ve been mindful of from the beginning, but always seek to improve.


2. The troubling fact touched upon recently by new Children’s Laureate Lauren Child that many boys (we stress, not all) simply won’t read stories about girls or with girls on the cover.


Sadly, we have first-hand experience of the second issue. We make a great effort to put a good mix of stories in our magazine to appeal to both genders, even though we truthfully believe that stories are for everyone. Yet, in the past, some schools who have decided not to subscribe to Storytime have given as their reason: “Boys won’t read it if there’s a girl on the cover.”

They won’t or they can’t, because they feel they can’t?

Over the years, we have heard the same thing in many publishing meetings with magazine and book companies: girls will read stories featuring boys or with boys on the cover, but the reverse is almost unthinkable. It’s a sad state of affairs and we’d like to see it change.

Let’s stop censoring stories

Stories are the building blocks of reading and learning, so the types of stories we choose to read or not to read (or even subconsciously censor) have a huge impact on our children, as well as the beliefs they develop as they grow up and their capacity to build empathy with each other.

Not reading ‘girl stories’ to boys is no different from telling them they can’t wear pink or play with dolls. The same is true of preventing girls from reading ‘boy stories’. It’s an outdated way of thinking. Let Toys Be Toys have been running a brilliant campaign to put an end to this gendered thinking in books, but it’s time that magazines take responsibility too.

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Superheroes save the day in a story by Paul Bristow and illustrated by Josh Cleland.

In defiance, Storytime Issue 34 features a female superhero on the cover. Not only that, she’s Asian. We did it because we aren’t bogged down in the bureaucracy that would have warned us that this would damage our sales, because we believe our readers are smart and sensitive enough not to bin a magazine of beautifully illustrated stories just because there’s a girl on the cover, and because we can. Sometimes, that’s all the justification you need.

Storytime was born of a rebellion against poor content in children’s magazines and cheap plastic toys – so I guess we have rebellion in our blood. We love our Asian girl superhero. We hope our readers do too – and we’re deeply grateful for everyone’s ongoing support.

Ultimately, we believe that stories are the real superheroes – because stories are for everyone. It’s only narrow mindedness that stops it being that way.


Let stories be stories?


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 34 is Out Now!

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Storytime Issue 34 is out now and we’re excited to reveal our very first superhero cover, starring Olivia and the coolest supermarket in the world! But there’s more than one hero in this issue – we’ve also got a gorilla guitar hero, a hippo-swinging shaman, a smart brother who outwits his lazy twin, and a Sioux spirit who saves a whole nation. Yup, our latest Storytime is packed with inspiring, funny and heroic stories from all over the world!

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Supermarket Superhero written by Paul Bristow and illustrated by Josh Cleland.

Powering up the issue, we’ve got the super Superhero Supermarket by published author Paul Bristow (win a copy of his book The Superpower Project here and read more about it here).

You can also follow Paul’s brilliant blog and follow him on Twitter too – he’s up to all kinds of creative and inspirational stuff.

Our cover and Paul’s story is illustrated by Josh Cleland, who also created our stunning Budgie cover for last year’s Storytime Issue 25 (pick it up from our back issue shop here). Josh has given us a superhero to be proud of and we’ll be writing more about her in next week’s blog, so do pop back.

Less heroic is the clumsy elephant in our poem Eletelephony by Laura E Richards, which gets itself in quite a tangle. This funny poem features lots of great wordplay and is perfectly illustrated by Vicky Amrullah.

Nana Miriam and the Hippo is a fantastic folk tale from Nigeria, which tells of a smart girl who overcomes a demon hippo to save her village – and when we say ‘overcome’, we mean well and truly gives it the boot! Kids will love the ending. Illustrations are by Bruno Liance, who is well known for his illustrations for a children’s book on Nina Simone.

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White Buffalo Calf Woman, a Sioux story illustrated by Giorgia Broseghini.

Another awesome hero, White Buffalo Calf Woman is a Sioux legend about the origin of the peace pipe and the significance of the white buffalo in the culture of indigenous America. Stunning art for this story is provided by Giorgia Broseghini.

The Bees and Jupiter is a great fable with a clear message, and it’s illustrated by Susanna Rumiz. What a fabulous Jupiter she’s given us! This fable works well in short story sessions with environmental themes, so is perfect for Eco Schools and Forest Schools. We’ve also put together a fantastic teaching resource pack with lesson ideas, facts about bees, action plans to support bees at home and school, and loads of bee-themed activities. See our Schools site for how to get hold of it.

Lovers of Brothers Grimm fairy tales will enjoy The Magic Flower, which is based on Jorinde and Joringel. It features a dark castle in the woods, a wicked sorceress with a terrible habit of turning innocent young women into birds, and the determined young man who sets out to save his loved one. It’s a classic brought to life with illustrations by Erika Meza.

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Groovy gorillas rock Alphabet Zoo! Illustrated by Tim Budgen.

We’re racing through the animal alphabet in Alphabet Zoo, and we’ve reached letter G! This time, we’ve got groovy gorillas, girl-fan geckos, blue gnus and gorgeous giraffes! Art is by our regular contributor, Tim Budgen. We think he enjoyed conjuring up the gorilla rock band! Don’t forget to download our Alphabet Zoo Factsheet Pack and keep collecting our posters too – they’re starting to look really good lined up together.

Finally, The Tittletattles is a funny folk tale about two very different brothers. One is the smart hero and the other gets what he deserves – it’s enjoyable seeing how this story unfolds and it has some very silly moments (including fish growing in trees!) Quirky and cool illustrations are by Marco Guadalupi, who previously worked with us on What Katy Did on Storytime Issue 24.

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Win a beautiful print by Sandra Dieckmann from her new book, Leaf.

All this, plus the usual puzzles and activities throughout the magazine. We’ve also got a brilliant monthly competition to win copies of our Books of the Month. This time, we have the gorgeous Sun by Sam Usher (Templar Publishing) and the extraordinary Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann (Flying Eye Books). They’re both wonderful books AND you can win a limited edition, hand-foiled, signed print from Sandra Dieckmann – it’s an absolute stunner. You can enter our competition here. Good luck!


Be a hero this month… read lots of stories!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Goes Global

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine licensing, storytime, storytime in singapore, magazine syndicationWe’re blowing our own trumpet a bit this week because we have some hugely exciting news. Our wee Storytime venture – the dream of three people in a little studio in London – has taken flight and has officially gone global.

Storytime magazine is now available to home and school subscribers in Singapore, with other territories to follow.

We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with one of Singapore’s biggest and most respected educational publishers, ILoveReading.Sg, plugging a gap in the market for a children’s story magazine, which can help make learning the English language easier, more appealing and more engaging.

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Pupils in Singapore reading Storytime as part of their programme to learn English.

ILoveReading.Sg founder, Nikson Low, commented, “When we first saw Storytime, we knew that this awesome publication would create an impact in Singapore schools. Storytime is now part of the compulsory reading programme in many schools and its wonderful stories and illustrations have engaged students right from the beginning. We already have thousands of subscribers, and subscriptions are growing by leaps and bounds.”

storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, content licensing, magazine syndication, storytime goes globalWe have to admit that seeing images of school children reading our magazine in Singapore is pretty mind-blowing and proves our theory that stories can be a great universal force for learning, for good, for empathy, for cultural diversity and for creating globally-minded citizens – some of which we’ve discussed here before. We’re delighted to be part of it.

Storytime in Singapore has launched at Issue 1, making it our first official international edition. However, since launching in 2014, we have amassed subscribers in over 40 countries (we ship worldwide!), and we have been very fortunate to find a distributor in Hong Kong, who has been placing Storytime in many schools there – again, helping children to perfect and polish their English.

In more exciting news, we’re also working with a new partner in South Africa, which we’ll reveal more about in future.

Though Storytime magazine is a UK-based product, made in the heart of London, we’ve always considered ourselves global in our outlook. Perhaps having a Brazilian art director helps, perhaps it’s the fact that we’ve always made a point of collaborating with illustrators from all over the world. Maybe it’s because we take such pleasure in featuring Around the World Tales in every issue. Now we’re in Singapore though, we feel we can truly claim ‘Storytime goes global’.

Needless to say, we’re hugely thankful to all our readers, wherever they are, and glad that they’re part of the international Storytime family. Stories are for everyone, everywhere.

If you’re interested in licensing Storytime for your territory, do drop us a line at hello@storytimemagazine.com – we’d love to chat with you and play a larger part in helping children everywhere enjoy learning the English language.

We’ll put the trumpets away for now. Have a great week, story lovers!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Free Printables and Story Resources

Storytime magazine, free printables, Golden Goose, teaching resources, lesson ideas, downloadsWe love publishing a children’s story magazine, but we don’t stop there. We believe that stories are powerful tools for extending learning and for inspiring play, which is why every Storytime issue comes with suggestions for activities, puzzles, games and story-themed free printables, ranging from masks and finger puppets to colouring and game counters. With every issue of Storytime, we hope to give our readers a richer and more fun story experience – something beyond reading.

For schools who subscribe to Storytime, we also choose a story from each issue and put together a focused teaching resource pack, filled with lesson ideas, ranging from literacy and maths to science and art. Each pack comes with comprehension and writing activities too, to help children understand the bones of a story and become confident storytellers in their own right.

To demonstrate how rewarding extending on your reading sessions can be, in this week’s blog, we’re making our latest free printable Golden Goose Pack (usually only emailed to schools, home educators and libraries) widely available to all our readers. You can download it here: Free Golden Goose Pack.

We’re also sharing some simple ideas on how to get the most from this classic fairy tale in a fun and educational way. We hope it inspires you!

Goosing Around with our Golden Goose Free Printables

  1. First, read the Golden Goose story. If you don’t have Storytime Issue 33 already, you can get hold of it in our back issue shop.
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    There’s so much to see in Olga Demidova’s brilliant illustrations for The Golden Goose.

  3. Start off with the activities in our magazine. Complete the counting puzzle and find the golden feathers in our wonderfully detailed centrespread illustration by Olga Demidova. You can extend on this by adding more ‘spot it’ and ‘count it’ challenges. How many houses are there? How many people are wearing hats? Can you spot two round windows? What about the white dog?
  4. Now download our free printable Golden Goose masks and act out the story. We’ve got a goose, Fritz and the three sisters. We have more printable masks if you need to add more characters to the goosey line-up, including Hercules, Merlin, King Arthur, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, a giant, Goldilocks, and Snow White. They can all stand in for other characters. They’re available to download here.
  5. Invent new characters to join the goose parade. In the Golden Goose, there are stallholders, a fishmonger, a circus performer, and a royal official. Who else might you bump into a bustling city? Write a list.
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    Read the story then go golden goose-spotting!

  7. Download our free Golden Goose teaching resource pack. It has loads of lesson ideas, but also story sequencing, storyboards, creative writing prompts, puzzles, maths, map-making, feather crafts, colouring and drawing!
  8. Our pack also comes with a Goose Factsheet, so you can read the story then get outdoors and do some goose spotting. At this time of year, you might even spot your own little golden geese in the form of Canada Geese goslings, which have wonderful yellow feathers. This is a great way to bring the story to life and conclude your story session.

Sharing a story with a child is a very precious thing, but delving into it even further can give your child’s learning and literacy a positive boost – at home as well as in the classroom.

If you enjoy our Golden Goose pack, we have other free printables available to download on our Storytime for Schools website, including packs to help you create your own fairy tales, fables, myths, legends, poetry and even your own magazine. Check them out here.

Plus, don’t forget our usual free printables page. This month, we have a brilliant Alphabet Zoo factsheet and activity pack, and a bonus pack for our wonderful leopard story. It’s a truly enjoyable way to learn!

If you’re a school and are interested in subscribing or want to know more about Storytime and our free resource packs, please drop us a line at hello@storytimemagazine.com – we’d love to hear from you!


Hope you all have some good goosey fun over half term!

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Writer Interview: Beatriz Poyton

storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, best bedtime stories for kids, animal stories for kidsWhen we opened Storytime for submissions from contributing writers last year, we had one clear objective – to find good stories that would inspire brilliant illustrations. We didn’t care who a writer was or where they came from or what they had done before. In fact, we always make a point of ignoring the email body copy and reading the attachment first. If a story is good, then we go back and find out more. But the story must always comes first.

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Beatriz with her published story in Storytime Issue 33, with illustrations by Junior Caramez

So, it was quite a surprise when we read The Leopard that Lost her Spots, liked it, and then discovered that it had been submitted by a 12-year-old girl. What we saw in Beatriz Poyton’s story was originality, charm and potential, so together, over the course of a few months, we moulded the story into something we all felt was absolutely right for Storytime.

Now we know Beatriz better, it isn’t surprising at all that she has been published in Storytime (Issue 33, out now). Beatriz, now 13, is an avid reader, literacy ambassador for her school, book club organiser, and soon-to-be blogger. She is wonderfully inspiring and it’s well worth reading her writer interview. No matter what your age, background or experience of writing, you might just pick up some tips from her about enthusiasm, commitment and passion.

Beatriz can also teach us all a thing or two about resilience in the face of rejection. She has submitted her work to editors and literary agents and, instead of feeling beaten when rejected, she has taken their advice on board, and viewed rejection as an opportunity to improve upon her work.

Q&A with Beatriz Poyton


1. Beatriz, when did you start writing and what inspired you to get started?

I have been writing ever since I can remember. It has always opened up a new world for all my ideas, emotions and fears. I love reading and wanted others to read more, so I thought I could help by writing stories that make people want to read more.

2. What is your favourite book or author and why?

I haven’t got a favourite author, as I like to try new books. However, my favourite recent read is Looking Glass Girl by Cathy Cassidy. It’s a modern take on Alice in Wonderland, and mixes emotions, adventure and twists on a journey that drags your heart all the way through to the end. I LOVE books that create tension like this one.

3. How did you come up with the idea for your leopard story?

I can’t quite remember what inspired my Leopard story. I think I was obsessed with animals and had been reading a lot of Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling and Aesop’s fables, so wanted to write a story like that.

(Editor’s note: One of the things I liked about Beatriz’s story was how it turned those Just So-style tropes on their heads – how the camel got his hump etc – and looked at what might happen in reverse.)

4. What does your role as a literacy ambassador in your school involve?

Being a literacy ambassador for my school allows me to raise awareness of reading and encourage more pupils to read at home. Last year, my friends and I started a Reading Book Club, where we did games and activities based on books we were reading as a group.

5. What advice would you give to young people who want to be writers?

I have two pieces of advice for young writers – my first is to write something you love. If you don’t enjoy your writing subject then the story won’t have as much feeling.

My second piece of advice is: NEVER GIVE UP! Giving up means you have let something great go. Everything can be improved, so keep going, and one day you’ll write something amazing.

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OUP Children’s Classic’s Champion, Beatriz Poyton.

6. Is there anything else you do that’s linked to your love of reading?

I love helping in bookshops! It lets you advise people on amazing books. I was lucky enough to help at my friend’s bookshop, Mostly Books in Abingdon, at some great events. My favourite of these was the Independent Bookshop Week Author Takeover, when authors Paula Harrison, Fleur Hitchcock and Helen Peters came in and ran the shop for a day. I helped with making tea, selling books and even on the till. Another great event was when I helped at the launch of David Melling’s picture book Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake last summer, where I helped children with crafts, made shelf displays and took photographs. It was great fun.

I was also lucky enough to win a review competition for Oxford University Press and became one of their Children’s Classic’s Champions. I got my review and recommended reading list printed in their new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz! It was great to see my name in print and to think that maybe my recommended books would inspire other children to read something new!

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Beatriz reading her published story for the first time in Storytime Issue 33!

7. Did you learn anything from the process of working with Storytime?

Working with Storytime allowed me to see that there is always room for improvement, and when I make a mistake my editor is always there to support me. I was surprised that editing could be fun because at first I thought that it would be long and not exciting, but I really enjoyed it.

8. What you would like to do when you leave school?

I want to be an editor and an author as well. This is because I want to see both sides of the scene and bring really good stories to print, by me and other writers too. Other writers I admire have done this, like Robin Stevens who wrote the Murder Most Unladylike books, while editing other people’s books for a publisher.

9. What’s the best thing about seeing your work published?

It is really exciting, but my favourite thing is that I can look back at all the work I did to reach my goal, and think, “I have made it, how good is that?!” And then “I can’t wait to write something new!” These happy thoughts make my day, and I am so pleased that my story is published. I am also amazed by the illustrations by Junior Caramez, they are brilliant!


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See Beatriz read her story on Saturday 20 May!

Beatriz will be reading her story, The Leopard that Lost her Spots, at her local library in Beaconsfield on Saturday 20 May at 10.30am. Do go along and support her if you are local to the area. She will also be giving talks in two local primary schools about her writing. Plus, you can download fun and free Leopard Activity Sheets we created to complement Beatriz’s story.

As I said, a pleasure to work with and a real inspiration – I am sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from Beatriz in future.

Be inspired this week,


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 33 Is Out Now!

Story time Issue 33, kids magazine subscriptions, best bedtime stories for kids, magazine subscriptions for kids, golden gooseNew issue week is always hugely exciting in the Storytime studio. We finally get to see the fruits of our labour – months of research, planning, writing, editing, proofing, commissioning, designing and general tinkering. But it’s when our magazine also lands with the most important people of all – our amazing readers – and we hope you’ll all enjoy Storytime Issue 33 and our most glittering cover yet!

Our latest issue of Storytime features The Golden Goose, a classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, which is a great chain tale with lots of interesting lessons and it’s huge fun to read aloud. The sparkly cover and story illustrations are by the brilliant Olga Demidova.

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Flamingos fandango in Alphabet Zoo, Storytime Issue 33, with art by Tim Budgen,

Our regular poetry series Alphabet Zoo returns, this time with adorable fennec foxes, flamingos doing the fandango and the fossa… now there’s an interesting beast. Art comes courtesy of our regular Alphabet Zoo illustrator, Tim Budgen. We hope he approves of our very special Alphabet Zoo-inspired Flamingo Bingo in the back of the issue!

Half a Blanket is a sweet Irish folk tale, as old as the hills, about familial loyalty and love. It might bring a tear to your eye at the end and, at the very least, it should make you want to read stories under a blanket. Our favourite activity! The lovely illustrations for this are by Rosario Battiloro.

Next up, The Dancing Monkeys – a funny fable, inspired by Aesop, which is sure to keep young readers entertained. It’s illustrated by Zhanna Mendel. Zhanna’s an old hand at Storytime fables now, as she also illustrated The Crab Walk for us in Storytime Issue 24.

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The Romulus and Remus myth, retold for children and illustrated by Emilio Darlun.

For lovers of heroes and heroines, we have Romulus and Remus, an ancient myth about the origins of the city of Rome, with glorious golden eagles, a pink wolf and incredible details by illustrator Emilio Darlun.

It’s been a while since we featured a nursery rhyme, so we’re pleased to have Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son in this issue. Like all good rhymes, it’s full of energy, has a little bit of silliness and it’s perfect for singing or even dancing along to. The colourful illustrations are by Genie Espinosa.

The Frog and the Condor is a story from Peru. Condors aren’t the prettiest of birds and this one is a real baddie, kidnapping a llama keeper (llamherdess?) called Morning Star. The unexpected hero of this story is a little frog who lacks confidence. Weird and wonderful illustrations are provided by Sebastian Baculea.

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A lovely leopard story by Beatriz Poyton, illustrated by Junior Caramez

Last, but by no means least in Storytime Issue 33, is a brand new story called The Leopard that Lost her Spots by Beatriz Poyton. Not only is it a great tale with amazing illustrations from Junior Caramez, but Beatriz was just 12 years old when she submitted it. I’m going to blog about Beatriz next week, so do come back and read it. She is an inspiration.

As ever, we hope you enjoy sharing the stories and rhymes in Storytime Issue 33 at home or in the classroom – or wherever the mood takes you!

If you’re a teacher, librarian or home educator, look out for your free resource pack, which should be landing soon. It’s all about The Golden Goose.

If you’re a home subscriber, do check out our latest Alphabet Zoo activity pack and factsheet, which is designed around the animals in Storytime Issue 33, plus there are more free downloads here! We’re adding new printables all the time.

If you don’t subscribe already, you have no idea how many great stories, illustrations and activities your kids are missing! But, never fear, it’s easy to become part of the Storytime gang. In fact, it only takes a few moments to subscribe!


Wishing you a month of happy storytimes,


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)