Narratives That Nurture

Narratives That Nurture

 

We all know that reading stories is a great source of entertainment – we have all seen our little ones spellbound by a fairy tale or legend! Reading can also, expand their vocabulary and increase their knowledge of the world, and boost their literacy skills.

 

But have you considered the role that stories play in developing a child’s emotional literacy? For parents, carers and educators, stories are a powerful tool to help children learn about emotions and develop the resilience they need to engage with the wider world.

 

Read more storiesStories allow children to experience vicariously the challenges faced by characters, understand the emotional responses, and observe the resolution and resilience demonstrated. This experience is crucial in helping children develop their own coping mechanisms and resilience in the face of real-life challenges.

 

Building Emotional Literacy with Storytime

Storytime has long been a treasure trove of tales that spark imagination and impart valuable lessons. Many of them teach valuable lessons about how to navigate the complex landscape of emotions and resilience. Here are just a few stories that your children might find enlightening and educational…

 

Jack Makes the Princess Laugh: Appearing in issue 59, this story highlights the transformative power of laughter and joy in overcoming sadness.

 

Moving Day: This science fiction tale featured in Storytime issue 69. It may be set on the Moon and Mars, but it focuses on universal themes – new beginnings, moving to new places, and the role that empathy and kindness play in making friends.

 

The Girl Who Knew No Fear: In issue 94, you will find this classic story about a girl who faces scary situations without so much as a shiver. However, by the end she finds something that she is afraid of! This story will make young readers think about what fear is… and what it truly means to be brave!

 

The Goblin in the Garden: Dealing with separation and moving house is an evergreen theme for stories, and so many kids can relate to these emotions. This story from issue 97 deals with these ideas and adds a little touch of enchantment.  When children encounter similar situations in their own lives, they can think of how May, the heroine of this story, dealt with her emotions…

 

The Tiny Samurai: Children often feel like they are in a world that is too big for them – it’s difficult to navigate a world built and populated by huge adults! That’s the key to the appeal of this story, which adds a Japanese twist to a story of a tiny character stuck in a normal-sized world. However, they can take inspiration from how tiny Issun-Boshi triumphs over an ogre and becomes a hero… through a combination of bravery, politeness and skill. He provides a great example for any child who feels out of place in an outsize world!

 

StorytimeThese narratives serve as mirrors for children to see their emotions reflected and as guides to help then navigate their feelings. We focus on providing content that is full of situations and role models that kids can identify with.

 

My Mind Matters!

In addition to the inspirational themes that can be found in our stories, we also provide advice on developing emotional literacy and resilience and coping with challenging situations. The My Mind Matters section in Storytime is written by Jessica Bowers, a well-being writer, counsellor and consultant for the magazine. Every month, she provides ideas and activities about emotions, coping skills, and effective communication.

 

Jessica’s experience as a counsellor and psychotherapist has given her great insights, which she shares in the My Mind matters section. She provides practical and accessible advice and activities that help kids to get in touch with their feelings and develop the ‘emotional toolbox’ they need to get the most out of life. emotions and fosters an environment where discussing feelings is a natural part of everyday life.

 

We hope you continue to share the gift of stories with your children – they contain seeds of emotional wisdom and strength. Remember, the stories we share with children today can shape their tomorrow.

 

Happy reading!

Storytime Issue 117 Out Now!

The Lady Cat

Welcome to the Enchanted Kingdom of Stories!

This month, Storytime magazine takes you on a whimsical journey through a realm where imagination reigns supreme! Our latest issue is a celebration of tales and characters from lands both distant and familiar, woven together in a tapestry of magic and wonder. Each story has its own enchantments, and we suspect that every reader will find a favourite inside. Read on… and discover the wizards (oops, make that artists) who bring these tales to life!

 

On our cover, The Lady Cat beckons you to explore the most fantastical of kingdoms. Her stunning portrayal is the work of the incredibly talented Gabi Tozati. Follow her on Instagram at @gabitozatiart to see more of her enchanting illustrations.

 

The Mighty Wind

Next, we invite you to venture into the forest realm where The Mighty Wind is causing havoc. By the end of the tale, readers discover the source of the storm…  and the three little pigs and the wolf become friends! The captivating forest scenes are beautifully crafted by Alessia Gilli.

 

Don’t ever try to steal from the fairies or they’ll make you dance till you drop! The Greedy Old Man is about an unfortunate fellow who ignored this warning… Ramona Bruno’s vibrant art will transport you to Cornwall, the setting of this classic folk tale.

 

The Chief of the Birds

Our adventure continues in the African jungles, where we help choose The Chief of the Birds. Lisa Batagglini’s artistry led to the creation of some breath-taking visuals. See if you can spot all the colourful creatures in her gorgeous illustrations!

 

In the meantime, we headed to South Asian shores where Yuri Peron gifts us with an elegant rendition of the retelling of the fable The Talkative Tortoise, featuring amazing Tibetan ducks and intricate and beautiful designs.

 

Time Travelling Party Crasher The Lady Cat

Artist Andres Hertsens transports us back to 1919 in Time-Travelling Party Crasher! – you can almost taste the delicious food he has depicted in his fun-filled scenes. Who’d like some Bakewell tarts and Battenberg slices?

 

Kindness always wins out in our stories, and The Good Giant’s tale is about the triumph of the spirit. Ahmed Madbolly faced the challenge of bringing this old Native American tale to life and succeeded with flying colours. After seeing his illustrations, you will also want a pet frog like the one in this myth!

 

Anne Tells Her Tale

Lastly, our hearts were captivated by the story of Anne Frank, whose diary entries became timeless tales. Lily Uivels beautiful artwork brings the girl’s world to life, and Anne Tells her Tale is one of the most poignant Awesome Adventures we have ever published!

 

Join us in this issue of Storytime as we celebrate the power of storytelling and the artists who make these stories leap off the pages. Here’s to finding your new favourite place within our kingdom of stories!

 

We hope you enjoy this magical journey as much as we enjoyed crafting it. Until next time, keep the stories alive in your heart!

Reading to Young Kids: The Million Word Gap

The Million Word Gap

 

Stories are fun, but they are also educational! According to a report by UNESCO, reading to young kids can familiarize them with sounds, words, and language and nurture literacy skills. It can also introduce them to the wonder of stories, and spark their imagination and curiosity.

 

A study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that daily reading to young children improves schooling outcomes, regardless of family background and home environment. The OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results also indicate a strong correlation between parents telling stories to children when they are little and reading achievement at age 15. These lucky kids perform one to two years above their peers!

 

Another example of the effect that reading to kids can have is found in a study by Ohio State University. Children who were read up to five books a day before starting school had heard 1.4 million more words than those that had never been read to. This “million word gap” could help explain differences in vocabulary and reading development. Even being read just one book a day can lead to them being exposed to hundreds of thousands more words…..

 

(Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404074947.htm)

 

Here are four top reasons why reading to children from a young age is super important:

 

  • Reading stories can familiarise little ones with sounds, words, and language! They will learn how words are pronounced, spelled, and used in different contexts.  Children will also develop the ability to understand the structures and meanings of sentences, paragraphs, and texts and improve their listening, speaking, writing and comprehension skills.

 

  • Reading stories can introduce your child to the value of books and stories! Stories can spark your child’s imagination and curiosity, and inspire them to explore new topics and ideas. Reading stories can also foster a love of learning, and motivate your child to seek more information and knowledge. Along the way, they will discover different cultures, perspectives, and experiences, and develop empathy and respect for others.

 

  • Reading stories can promote your child’s brain development and ability to focus and concentrate! Tales stimulate your child’s brains and enhance their memory and cognitive skills. They will learn to pay attention and follow a sequence of events, which can improve their comprehension and problem-solving abilities. Reading stories can also help your child relax, which will improve their mental health and well-being.

 

  • Reading stories can help your child build social, communication, and emotional skills. Stories can provide opportunities for your child to interact with you and others, and to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Reading stories can also strengthen your bond with your child and create lasting memories.

 

So now we know how good of a habit it is, here are some top tips to get you started!

 

  • Make reading a daily habit. You can start reading to your child from the day they are born, or even before! Make reading a routine by sharing a book or a story with your child every day, preferably at the same time and place. You can read before bedtime, after breakfast, or at any time that suits you and your child. Reading regularly can help your child develop good reading habits and attitudes.

 

  • Read in front of your child. Let your child see you reading for pleasure. Your child will learn from your example and see that reading is fun and valuable. You can also talk to your child about what you are reading and why you enjoy it, and encourage them to share their own reading preferences and experiences.

 

  • Create a reading space. Make sure your child has a comfortable and cosy place to read, with enough light and room to keep their books and stories. Having a reading space can help your child associate reading with relaxation and comfort, and make them look forward to reading time.

 

  • Take trips to the library. The library is a great place to find new books and stories for your child, and to expose them to different genres and formats. Many libraries also have story hours or other literacy programs for children, where they can listen to stories, meet other readers, and participate in activities.

 

  • Let your child choose what to read. Give your child some freedom in selecting their books and stories. You can guide them by suggesting some options or categories, but let them make the final decision. Your child will be more interested and engaged in reading something they picked themselves, and they will learn to trust their own judgment and taste.

 

  • Find reading moments in everyday life. Reading is not only about books and stories. It is also about signs, labels, menus, instructions, and other texts that we encounter in our daily lives. You can help your child recognize and read these texts, and explain their purpose and meaning. This can help your child see the relevance and usefulness of reading, and apply their reading skills to different situations.

 

  • Re-read favourite books and stories. Don’t worry if your child wants to read the same book or story over and over again. This is a normal and beneficial behaviour for young children. Re-reading can help your child remember and understand the story better, and notice new details and connections. Re-reading can also give your child a sense of familiarity and confidence, and make them feel proud of their reading ability.

 

  • Learn more about how children read. You can support your child’s reading development by knowing what reading skills and strategies to expect at different ages and stages. You can also learn about the best ways to help your child with reading difficulties or challenges, and how to encourage and praise their reading efforts and achievements.

 

We hope these tips will encourage you to foster a love of reading in your little ones.

Our short stories are ideal for a bedtime routine and the illustrations in Storytime are engaging and full of magic, the perfect start for young readers to fall in love with stories. So pick up your favourite issue and let us know how the new reading routine goes. Happy story time, peeps!

Storytime Issue 116 Out Now!

The Tiny Samurai

A Storytelling Journey Through Our April Issue!

Welcome, young readers and story enthusiasts! This month, we’re taking you on a magical journey through a world of enchanting tales, beautifully illustrated and filled with wonder. They are as diverse as they are delightful and will captivate readers big and small. So cosy up, and let’s dive into our latest issue!

 

The Tiny SamuraiOur cover features the classic Japanese tale of Issun Boshi, ‘The Tiny Samurai’. His story proves that size doesn’t matter if you have courage in your heart. The lovely illustrations by Ekaterina Savic will transport you to legendary Japan!

 

 

 

 

 

Brer Rabbit

Next, we hop into the world of Brer Rabbit, the trickster hero of African-American folklore. His tales teach us that brains often triumph over brawn, and that is certainly the case in How Brer Rabbit Fooled the Elephant and the Whale!  Claudia Marianno uses an amazing palette of colours to create a unique and distinctive take on this classic tale.

 

 

 

 

This month’s World of Wonder is actually… Nala’s Grandma’s farm! The clever girl on a mission to help her grandma milk a stubborn goat. Will she succeed? You’ll have to read to find out! Nala and the Nanny Goat is written by the talented author Kathryn England and features lively art by Viv Campbell that will make you fall in love with Nala’s world!

 

 

 

Bo Peep

Our lovely illustration feast continues with The Sheep Factor, a tale about three lambs who go to a concert… and end up taking centre stage! Bo Peep needn’t worry about her lost sheep – and Gabriela Grave glammed them up for this special performance!

 

 

 

 

 

Florence NightingaleThe Courage to Care tells the true story of famous British nurse Florence Nightingale. Take a trip to the grand mansion where she lived as a child, which is illustrated by Andrea Noca. We are sure that Florence’s tale will inspire readers to make a positive difference in the world!

 

 

 

 

Hans Christian Andersen

Our next story is set in a humble apartment… but a blossoming plant makes a big difference to the mother and child that live there. The Pea Blossom is a wonderful Hans Christian Andersen story, and we love the art provided by Mirti Illustrations – it certainly made us smile!

 

 

 

 

The Eye of Odin

We round off this issue with two epic adventures. The Eye of Odin takes us on a thrilling journey down the cosmic World Tree of Norse mythology, and the stunning graphics are the work of Dino Caruso Galvano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess of the Springs

The Princess of the Springs is an epic South American story filled with larger-than-life characters, filled with magic, mystery, and the promise of new beginnings. Its vibrant visuals and epic scenes are the work of Levi Gomes.

 

So, dear readers, prepare to be enchanted by these tales. Remember, every story is a door to a new world. All you need to do is turn the page!

Storytime: Your World of Stories

Storytime: Your World of Stories

 

Storytime is a brand that will make your child fall in love with reading. Our tales are specially written and illustrated to enrich children’s imaginations, pique their curiosity, and build their knowledge of the world. Our aim is to engage with young readers and bring joy and laughter to the whole family – because we know that stories should be read, loved and shared!

When you subscribe to Storytime, you are welcomed into a unique world of stories – with access to over 900 tales in print, digital and audio formats. By doing so you will also support our mission to make quality reading material accessible to every child.

Come this way, as we take you on a tour through your world of stories!

 

Storytime: A Monthly Treat for Your Familysharing stories

Every month, you and your young ones will receive a fresh copy of Storytime in a brightly coloured envelope. Getting this in the post is a very special experience that our readers tell us they look forward to with anticipation.

Each issue of Storytime is printed on high quality paper and contains a collection of lovingly curated and gorgeously illustrated tales of all kinds from around the world. You will find fairy tales, myths and legends, folk tales, fables, and more. There is something for everyone in Storytime, whether you prefer adventure, humour, fantasy or mystery.

 

Engaging Reluctant Readers

Storytime isn’t just entertaining, it’s also educational! Stories are accompanied by fact boxes that provide interesting information and trivia related to the stories. You will also find quizzes, puzzles, and activities that stimulate children’s minds. Storytime is designed to help kids develop their literacy, vocabulary, comprehension, and general knowledge skills in a fun and engaging way.

 

Stories are proven to be the most effective way to learn whilst having fun. Things we learn through stories stay with us for far longer and are easier to comprehend as well. We know that kids enjoy brightly illustrated tales in a magazine format, and each issue contains stories of different lengths and types so everyone can find something that suits their skills and interests. Storytime has been particularly successful at engaging reluctant readers and is a firm favourite with families and schools all over the world.

 

We believe that everyone is a reader – and literacy skills are the key to bridging education gaps in society and allowing everyone to have more opportunities. For us, it’s a privilege to be part of the change we want to see in the world by creating something special and full of wonder.

 

Your Storytime Hub 

As a subscriber to our monthly magazine, you get access to the online Storytime Hub, where you can enjoy even more stories and resources. The Storytime Hub is our online platform that allows you to:

  • Listen to audio stories! You can experience having our tales read to you by a talented professional voice artist. Being read to is a special experience, whether your children are reading  along with the audio to build confidence or drifting into dreamland at bedtime. It’s also great for EAL learning, as you can hear how the words are pronounced while enjoying the tales!Storytime Hub
  • Access a vast library of stories! You can browse through over nine hundred illustrated tales from our archive. You will never run out of tales to enjoy, and you can discover new favourites and old classics along the way.
  • Download free activities and games! Reading is only the beginning! You will also find a variety of activities and games inspired by our stories, such as colouring pages, word searches, crosswords, craft projects, recipes, and more. These are free to download and print, and they will keep kids entertained for hours. They also help to keep readers engaged with stories and remember them. The activities encourage children to revisit stories – and discover new things!
  • Get bonus learning resource packs! If you are a teacher or a homeschooler, you can benefit from our 20-page teaching resource packs for every new issue! They cover various subjects and skills, such as literacy, art, science, maths, and PSHE. They are aligned with the national curriculum and provide lesson plans, worksheets, and assessment tools. These packs are inspired by our stories and encourage kids to think creatively and engage with the things they read in different ways.

 

Storytime is also published in many other countries and in other languages, and our world of stories will expand even more. Stay tuned! There is no limit for our imagination when we are creating tales, and there are many new things to come. We hope you will join us in this journey as we create lovely memories for children all over the world!

Storytime Issue 115 Out Now!

The Great Escape

Spring is a Time for Colour!

Each season gives a flavour to our stories, and the start of spring brings extra colours to our pages. Eight talented artists were invited to illustrate the latest issue of Storytime – and all of them brought something fresh to each and every page! Here are the sunsets, cold snaps, woodlands, skies and mythical lands they brought to life. We hope it will be the start of a wonderful new season of storytelling for all.

 

The Great EscapeOtávio Valões created the fantastic cover art and illustrated The Great Escape, a funny tale about two rabbits who get out of their enclosure in a quest for freedom! This story is inspired by the adventures of two real-life rabbits – Otávio had photographic references of real rabbits called Avalanche and Moonlight (who are still living back in New Zealand after trying to escape!) to get the details right, and both bunnies and their owners gave him top marks!

 

 

How the Goldfinch Got Its Colours is a heart-warming folk tale about an angel who paints the vividly hued feathers of all the birds in the world, so we needed a fantastic artist to bring the right colours to this one! We made the right choice with Karolina Piotrowska, who created vibrant scenes where paint is splashed around joyfully!

 

 

 

 

A Very Whuppie Birthday is a sweet bedtime story about a girl on a quest to find a surprise gift for her sister. Gaia Torti’s pictures have the joy of a spring day that the story needs and might make you hungry for eggs on toast in the end! We love Molly’s attitude and energy and if you missed her fairy tale, grab a back issue 54 in our shop!

 

 

 

 

This month’s fable The Porcupine and the Snake, is about how two very different creatures become roommates one chilly winter! The talented Ella Rousseau created charming designs for the two characters, making the snake and the porcupine very cute and relatable indeed. And the result, is a heart-warming life-lesson too!

 

 

 

 

Turn the volume up now! Carol D’Avila was responsible for the illustrations featured in A Kind of Magic, about the childhood of young Farrokh Bulsara, but you can call him Freddie Mercury! She captured his expressions and character perfectly in her art, which will make you fall in love with the singer forever!

 

 

 

 

 

This issue also features a very famous myth! The First Tasks of Hercules is about the first labours that the famous Greek hero undertook on his quest to become a god. Tiago Souza created a suitably impressive look for the hero in his illustrations, but he also found the humour in the story! He splashed the pages with brightness and wasn’t shy about making each page unique. We loved his take on the Greek Myths and we hope he will be back for more.

 

 

And since we are visiting distant times, we also went to South America in this issue! The Legend of El Dorado is about a mythical place that might never have existed! Yet if you look at Tel Coelho’s illustrations, you might think he was there!  His art captures the mood, scale, and mystery of the story in an amazing way. You really feel as if you are on a journey through a dark and unknown continent as you read this story.

 

There are a few more interesting facts about mythical places before we wrap this story up and we hope you find them as much fun to investigate as we did researching them!

 

The gold in the El Dorado might not have been there but there are certainly treasures in this issue! Our fairy tale is also made of pure gold! Illustrating a classic fairy tale is a challenging task, but Fanny Liem managed it in great style for this issue’s The Gold Spinners. Her art is delicate and subtle, and her wonderful character designs have a real warmth!

 

We hope you enjoy discovering the amazing art created by these talented folks in this month’s issue. We hope it will be a very colourful spring, full of sparkles and beautiful skies. Such is the power of nature and the seasons that we always have something beautiful to look forward to. Wishing you all a great Easter and a spring full of stories!

J.T. Williams Author Interview

J.T. Williams Bright Stars of Black British History

Author of Bright Stars of Black British History

This month we have something very special: an interview with the author of a wonderful new book about amazing people who helped to shape Britain. J. T. Williams was kind enough to answer our questions!

 

Q: What inspired you to write Bright Stars of Black British History, and what was your process for researching your subjects and shaping their stories into a book?

A: Writing this book was a very special experience for me as it was such a profoundly personal project. I’m British-born, with mixed African and English heritage, so I have always been naturally curious about Britain’s Black past. The inspiration came from discoveries over my own lifetime of extraordinary figures such as Ignatius Sancho, Mary Seacole, Walter Tull, Claudia Jones.

Researching and writing each person’s life story was like going on a unique and special journey with that person. I love the research process! Viewing original archival material really brings the past to life!  Reading books; going to museums and art galleries; listening to the music of the era; visiting places and spaces these people had walked in. You immerse yourself and imagine what life might have felt like for someone all those years ago.

 

Q: One of the wonderful things about Bright Stars of Black British History is that it tells the stories of fourteen unique individuals, and their stories provide many different perspectives. Which story is a personal favourite, and which tales do you find people have particularly engaged with?

A: It was fascinating to see how different people’s stories were linked; connected in some way, because they were all part of a broader story. For example, Dr Harold Moody came to London from Kingston, Jamaica in 1904 and trained as a doctor. When he was refused work because of the colour of his skin he set up a GP practice in his own home. Soon this was an important community hub for Black and Brown people seeking help with employment, housing and education. In 1931 Dr Harold founded the League of Coloured Peoples to assert the rights and improve the welfare of Black people all over the world.

Una Marson, also from Kingston, wrote poems as a young girl and founded her own feminist magazine, The Cosmopolitan, when she was just twenty-three! When she came to London, she stayed with the Moodys and became the editor of the League of Coloured People’s journal, The Keys. As producer of ‘Caribbean Voices’, a BBC radio programme celebrating West Indian writers, she was the first Black broadcaster and programme producer at the BBC.

I love that each of these individual stories are so inspirational; together they speak to the power of community and the ways in which Black people have worked alongside each other to advance rights for all.

 

Q: I imagine that you also came across some interesting historical figures that weren’t included in the final book for one reason or another. Could you tell us about one of them (unless you are saving them for a sequel, of course)?

Selecting stories from amongst others for a collection like this is so difficult and of course there are other people I wish we could have included. The list is long! In this book, I wanted to share the history of Black presence in Britain pre-Windrush, to show that Black people were here long before 1948 – and to explain why.

If the timeline had been different, I would have written about Paul Stephenson, one of the extraordinary people behind the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963. When the Bristol Omnibus Company refused to employ Black people as bus drivers, Stephenson and the West Indian Development Council led a protest that led to the racist employment policy being overturned. Their actions also helped usher in the 1965 Race Relations Act, making racial discrimination in public places illegal.

 

Q: In Bright Stars of Black British History, you write about some extremely serious subjects (especially the injustices of racism and slavery) honestly and in a way that gives them gravity without the stories becoming overwhelmingly grim. How did you go about striking this balance?

In many ways that balance reflects the realities of Black people’s lives in Britain. What so many of these life stories had in common was that each individual faced racism and unfair treatment; but each found ways to confront, challenge and overcome. I wanted to celebrate people’s creativity, their sense of community, their will to resist injustice. The stories in the book speak simultaneously to celebration and struggle, to resilience and resistance, to migration and movement, to challenge and change.

Our history is complex and so has often been surrounded by silence. I wanted to write a book that would create a safe space for honest conversations about this history, which is, after all, British history. As an educator I know that young people are ready to talk about these histories. They are curious, they are open, they are willing to learn, willing to have those challenging conversations. And of course, I wanted to shine a light on these amazing role models for young people.

 

Q: One thing I wasn’t expecting from Bright Stars of Black British History is how brilliantly it brings different places and periods of British history to life, from Tudor Britain to the colonial Caribbean and Twentieth Century London. Was this one of your objectives, or did it just happen naturally as you told your subjects’ stories?

What a great question! I think it’s a bit of both, to be honest. Writing life stories for younger people, I wanted to look at the whole arc of someone’s life, right from early childhood. What were the early influences on their decision-making? Place has the power to shape us. The environment in which we grow up, what we see around us, all contributes to who we become. Many of the people featured in the book migrated from one place to another, showing the important connections between Britain, Africa, America and the Caribbean. I wanted to capture the environment of each story in the language. To conjure up each era through vivid storytelling. That way, the reading experience feels like a series of journeys through different times and places.

Angela Vives’ stunning illustrations add such a rich layer of visual storytelling to every chapter. Imagining each person in those settings was a work of deep thinking for each of us. In many cases there was a lack of visual material to draw on, as in the earlier periods, Black people were often either left out of the picture or pictured in ways that caricatured us. For me, it was crucial to create a record, both verbal and visual, that reinstated our dignity and showed us at the centre of the action, as agents and drivers of our own history.

 

Q: In the past you were a schoolteacher – did this experience influence the writing of Bright Stars of Black British History?

Absolutely! Even from my own family history I knew that people of African descent have been living in Britain for centuries. But where were our stories in print? As a mother and as a teacher it was hard to find books I could read with my family, with my classes, to share our rich and varied history.

It is such a privilege to write for young people. Running workshops in schools, I have heard directly from young people that they want to learn histories that reflect a true diversity of perspectives.

When I am writing, I always keep my audience very clearly in mind. I wanted to write a book that young people could immerse themselves in and be inspired by; that educators could use in the classroom with confidence in the quality of the research; that families could read together, knowing that the life stories were written from a place of Black dignity.

 

Q: Your book also features beautiful art by the talented Angela Vives. How did she become involved in the project, and what process did the two of you use to create the illustrations?

Well, the original idea for us to make a book together was Angela’s! While I was working as an educator at the British Library, Angela was taking an MA in Children’s Illustration. Her special area of interest and expertise was around picture book biographies as inspirations for learning. I was running workshops about African Abolitionist writers and I was obsessed with the extraordinary story of the life of Ignatius Sancho, the composer and writer who lived with his family in Westminster in the eighteenth century. Angela suggested we make a book together about him. We approached Thames & Hudson with the idea, and the project grew from there!

Angela’s research process was also very immersive. Conjuring images of the past with Black people at the centre poses serious challenges as there is so little precedent. It’s a combination of deep dives into the historical research and giving space to the imagination to think about the person at the centre of the story. I think her illustrations have a beautiful emotional texture to them. As creatives, we wanted to readers to connect with each ‘character’ at the centre of their own life story.  So this is a history book, but, we hope, rendered with the immersive and emotive power of a gorgeous story collection.

 

We would like to thank J. T. Williams for taking the time to answer our questions. Bright Stars of Black History is a beautifully written book that tells the tales of inspiring people that have largely been left out of other history books. We highly recommend it!

 

 

 

Storytime Issue 114 Out Now!

My Zen Friend

The Zen of Stories!

Stories can be thrilling, but they can also help us to relax by escaping into another world for a while. Illustrations can help to draw readers into the world of stories before they have even read a word. The talented artists who contributed art to the latest issue of Storytime have created magical places and brought stories to life so we can escape into a world of wonderful what-ifs for a while. Where would you like to go first?

 

We shall start with our cover story, where this whole idea came from! Echo, our first panda cover star, invites us to go on a life-affirming adventure in My Zen Friend. The furry creature helps his kid companion as he goes on a trek through the  jungle and teaches him life lessons along the way. The lush green forest environment is a wonderful place to visit, brought to us by the masterful brush strokes of Catherine Razikova. Why not join us there?

 

 

When day-to-day life gets too stressful, it can be very relaxing to stare up at the clouds in the infinite sky. That is the setting for The Eagle and the Wren, this month’s fable.  (We should mention that in this story, birds both big and small are frantically competing to see who can fly the highest!) The scenes Karina Oliveira created for us are magical, and her feathered friends are truly magnificent. We hope you enjoy spending time in the sky with them!

 

 

Another green space can be found in The Girl Who Grew, our Awesome Adventure for this month. It’s the story of the Kenyan activist and scientist Wangari Maathai, who was the first African woman to win a Nobel prize. The beauty of her home country is lovingly rendered by Amari Mitnaul – you can totally imagine what it feels like to be sitting in the shade of a giant fig tree!

 

 

 

If nature is not your thing, then perhaps a story about pets will be your favourite! Look no further than our most colourful tale this month. Why Dogs Sniff Each Other has cute puppies galore, created to us by Cris Yepez, who really brings out the humour in the story. Did it make you giggle? And how does laughing along to a story makes you feel?

 

 

 

A good bedtime story is guaranteed to help you relax. If you had a busy day – full of real-life adventures – then check out our Short Stories, Big Dreams. This month we visit a pompous Emperor who was once fooled into walking around naked… but this time Maryna Raft helped us to make him fashionable and eco-conscious in The Emperor’s Old Clothes! Let your mind wander in the royal court and imagine all the sparkly things an Emperor could wear…

 

 

For even more shiny things, visit the Pharaoh’s vault with the two wise brothers in The Stonemason’s Sons. Diah Chakraborty’s tones and subtle details invite you the secret vault with the boys and you might spend some time spotting all that glitters. It is also a story about the importance of being fair – and why it’s good to care for your family.

 

 

 

You will lose yourself in the art of How Molo Stole the Red Rose, this issue’s fairy tale. Not only because Sheyla Nogueira did an impressive job of the magnificent Chinese palace and gardens in this story, but also because this tale of martial arts adventure will stir your imagination. Where did Molo go next? Where did he come from? Take time out to lose yourself in the possibilities…

 

 

 

We wrap up this magazine with a legend. You might not have heard of the hero of The Saga of Ilya Muromets, but you certainly won’t forget his deeds! Nor will you be able to forget the beautiful colours and compositions of Alex Herrerias, the fantastic artist who helped us tell this tale. We hope you can drift into this great adventure, feel energized by the hero’s strength and kindness– and perhaps feel inspired to conquer your own doubts and fears!

 

Our artists are miracle-workers who conjure up enchanting images every month. We’d like to thank them for all their hard work – and we hope that you have a wonderful time visiting the enchanting worlds they have created!

True-Life Tales!

True-life tales

 

Two years ago, we introduced a new section to Storytime: Awesome Adventures! They tell the true tales of kids who grew up to change the world. If the responses to our surveys are any indication, you are enjoying these stories very much! These tales are apparently among your favourite reads, so we thought you might like to know how and why we create them.

The Inspiration

The Storytime team loves fiction (of course!), but we also believe that amazing stories come from real life. There are lots of awesome people in history with fascinating stories to tell, and our readers are always looking for more factual content in the magazine. Writing biographical tales about inspiring individuals seemed to be the natural next step!

 

There are plenty of books about famous people out there for little ones, but they often just retell the basic facts of a famous person’s life in a kid-friendly way. We quickly decided that we didn’t want to create encyclopaedia-like articles. Instead, we wanted to discover what these people were like before they became famous… and what inspired, them to change the world! That’s why we decided to write fun stories about the real childhoods of famous people…

 

We were determined to include interesting people (and even animals!) of all kinds, from many different places and eras. Awesome Adventures tales have been written about scientists and engineers, activists and artists, historical characters, and sportspeople. We hope that these stories will open our readers’ minds to new ideas, experiences and possibilities.

How Do We Create Amazing Adventures?

Coming up with a fun and informative tale based on a real life can be a challenge! Writing each story takes a lot of research, and online sources usually aren’t enough. We go through in-depth biographies look for material for compelling and child-friendly stories!

 

In some cases, the stars of our tales have written books about their own childhoods, which is invaluable. (Temple Grandin, Nelson Mandela, Nadia Comaneci, and Billie Jean King have written excellent books about themselves, for example – we recommend them!)

 

But what about people who lived a long time ago? When writing about Alexander the Great, Confucius, Leonardo Da Vinci and William Shakespeare, we find out as much as we can about their upbringing and use what we know to form the ‘skeleton’ of a story, and then use our imaginations to fill in some gaps. We include as many of the facts as we possibly can when crafting these tales, though!

 

What we want to create are tales that inform, inspire and entertain, all at once. We hope that by telling kids about the childhoods of people who went on to accomplish great things, they will be inspired to follow their own dreams and make a difference. After all, every amazing person was once a kid… just like them!

 

And here are five reasons why real-life tales are good subjects to share with young readers:

1. They provide new perspectives!

Learning about someone’s else experiences can give kids new ideas about how to deal with the challenges they face.

2. Our heroes or heroines were once kids – just like them!

This can inspire young readers to follow their own dreams and unlock their own potential!

3. Life is an awesome adventure!

Awesome Adventures are set in the real world, with no spells or enchanted creatures, but that doesn’t mean that wonderful things can’t happen to us!

4. These stories teach history and geography in a fun and approachable way!

We travel far back in time and cross many miles to tell these tales! They can introduce readers to new places, cultures and time periods through the eyes of a child like them.

5. We never forget life lessons!

Real-life stories are a cool way to learn relatable lessons. The main characters in these stories faced many challenges and overcame them – and so can your children!

 

We hope you have fallen in love with our Amazing Adventures section! Which one was your favourite, who would you like to see featured in this section in the future? We would love to hear from you, so get in touch and keep looking out for inspiration… it’s everywhere!

Create Your Own Legend Copy

 

This year has just rushed by, hasn’t it? It seems like only yesterday that it was January, and a whole year was ahead of us!

 

We hope that you have made the most of 2023 – and enjoyed the stories we have brought to you in the pages of Storytime. (Don’t be afraid to let us know how we could do better, though. We love it when you answer our yearly reader’s survey!)

 

When the New Year comes around, we often think of resolutions that we hope to follow. We’re sure you have some in mind already. The problem is, change can be difficult, and we’ve all failed to live up to our own expectations at some time or other. But a team of scientists at the University of Chapel Hill in the United States may have found a way of making effective change in our lives by harnessing the power of stories.

 

The researchers focussed on the idea of the ‘hero’s journey’, a concept developed by Professor Joseph Campbell. In his study of the world’s myths and legends, he noticed that the main characters often went through the same stages in their quests.

 

How can we use Campbell’s ideas to shape our own lives? If you think about it, you are writing a story every day. It’s the story of your life! Research indicates that people who think of their lives as a great ‘journey’ or ‘quest’ report feeling a greater sense of purpose and lower levels of depression!

 

While we do not have control over everything in our lives, we do have the ability to change how we look at ourselves, the world, and the difficulties we face. This is called ‘reframing’, and it can be a powerful and empowering tool. Storytelling helps us to do so with more ease, using elements of stories to guide us in writing a new narrative. So why not try reframing your life as a legendary tale? You could see the New Year as the beginning of a new chapter of your life story – and it’s a perfect time to embark on a quest to become your best self. We hope you will find it an inspiring journey.

 

Create your own legend

Here are the seven things you need to turn your life into an epic quest…

1. A protagonist!

This is the main character in a story. In the story of your life, it has to be you! Think of all your qualities and strengths, and all the great skills that make you unique!

2. The shift!

Nothing stays the same forever, and we all have to deal with changes in our lives. Can you think of some big change that you have experienced? That could be your shift. Use that moment as the starting point of your adventure.

3. The quest!

What is a thing that you want to achieve to change your circumstances and grow? If you can’t think of a quest that you are currently on, why not come up with one now? Think of the future and something you would like to achieve.

4. Allies!

Who will help you on your quest? It could be friends, family members, or even a loving pet! Make sure you surround yourself by people you love!

5. A Challenge!

What is the most difficult thing you are facing in your quest to improve your life? Which skill do you need to overcome it? Can you ask for help? Do you need courage or strength? Where can you find what you need?

6. Transformation!

Completing a great quest leaves a protagonist changed forever – they are no longer the person they were when it began! How would YOU like to be transformed? Who is the new you, after the challenge?

7. Legacy!

Once you have completed your quest, you will have something to pass on to those who follow you. What legacy would you want to leave for others? What have your learned that you can share? We hope you feel proud of yourself, like the hero and heroine of your own story. What is the great ending of this legend?

 

The beautiful thing about this exercise is that you can use it again and again in your life, whenever new challenges come in. And every time you can write new chapters, of the most beautiful story of all: your own!

 

Happy New Year to all our lovely readers and writers of legendary tales!