Storytime Issue 86 Out Now!

 

Autumn is one of our favourite times of the year – and that’s partly because of Halloween! There is something wonderful about putting on a costume and transforming into someone or something else… even if it is just in your imagination and for a day only!

 

Storytime Issue 86 – A Time for Transformations!

As it happens, transformation and taking on new identities is part of the theme of this month’s issue. This month’s fairy tale is The Good Little Mouse, adapted from a wonderful story by Madame d’Aulnoy. It’s about an imprisoned queen and baby princess who are helped by a magical rodent – who turns out to be a magical fairy in disguise. Artist Leo Teixeira added his own magic to this story – with spectacular results!

 

The Tale of Tulsi is a lovely Indian legend about a woman who is tricked by the god Vishnu… but when he feels bad about this, he blesses her by transforming her into a flowering plant with healing properties. It’s an important tale from the Hindu culture – and we love to celebrate tales from around the world in Storytime! The art for this tale was by Camilla Garofano, who really made it unique!

 

A Spooktacular Party! is about a boy who is nervous about his spooky neighbours. They turn out to be actual vampires (who are vegetarian!), and one of them has a special transformation party trick that we won’t spoil here! Nurdan Fenerci did an exceptional job balancing the frightening and fun aspects of the story with his art, and we’re sure you will love it!

 

Not all transformations have to be physical, of course. Sometimes we can ‘transform’ ourselves by taking on different identities! Susanne Straßer showed mastery in capturing the humour in this month’s fable, The Bat and the Weasel. The poor bat keeps getting pounced on by the weasel but confuses the predator by claiming to be a bird, a rodent, and an insect. Sometimes, transforming your identity can be a survival skill!

 

Another story about a clever trickster is Per Gynt, about a hunter who uses cleverness and a giant shoe to drive off a pack of pesky trolls, and transform an annoying situation into a very funny one. His masterstroke is claiming that his pet bear is actually a cat! Pawel Gierlinski brought this fun legend to life with unmistakable style.

 

Our Awesome Adventure for this month is about a little girl who transformed herself – and the world with her courage and self-belief. Emmeline Makes a Difference is about the childhood of Emmeline Pankhurst, who led the fight for women’s suffrage and still inspires people who want to make the world a better place today. Èlia Meraki’s artwork for the story is worth a special mention. All too often, the Victorian era is depicted only as grim and drab, but she portrays it as it also was – vibrant, lively, and full of colour!

 

Our final tale is an ancient Greek myth that you might not have heard of! Dr Rachel Bryant Davies of Queen Mary University, who we collaborated with on our recent We Are Heroes project earlier this year, provided the myth of a hero who misses out on the Trojan War when he steps on a snake and gets left behind on a desert island. The happy ending comes about thanks to one of the most transforming acts possible – forgiveness! There really is a lesson there for all of us. Ricardo Fernandez takes us on this journey, through his wonderful art!

 

And we cannot help but end this blog with Scarecrow Jack’s bedtime tale in the Short Stories, Sweet Dreams section. After an awesome Halloween party, Scarecrow Jack’s lonely night is transformed by the power of kittens! Giorgia Broseghini knows cats only too well and made sure everyone’s heart will melt with a cuddly final scene!

 

We hope stories will transform the long Autumn nights into cosy ones for our readers! Our October issue has plenty of treats and no tricks. We hope you find it sweet and fun, and we wish you all the most wonderful Halloween ever!

Happy Reading!

The Storytime Team

Interview with Jessica Bowers

 

Interview with Jessica Bowers, Well-Being Writer

 

This year Storytime is turning 7, and to celebrate we are holding a new competition for our readers. We love coming up with themes for our competitions – and receiving thousands of amazing and creative entries from our readers!

 

This year, the theme we have chosen is happiness, emotional health, and resilience. In our new Happiness Is… contest, readers will get to think about what really makes them happy and send in pictures of what happiness looks like! Needless to say, we’re looking forward to receiving many bright and inspiring pictures from you all! The winning illustration will feature in Storytime magazine next Spring!

 

We believe that taking care of our minds is very important for kids and adults alike, so we have created a special Happiness Is… activity pack to inspire you and get you ready to draw your entries! To come up with really good activities and bring all the important information to you, we obviously needed help from an expert consultant!

 

We reached out to the wonderful Jessica Bowers! She is a well-being writer, an experienced counsellor, psychotherapist and all-round lovely person! Jessica has provided awesome content for the Happiness Is… pack. She has shared great tips and exercises to get everyone tuned in with their emotions and ready to draw! You can download the new Happiness Is… competition entry form and activity pack HERE

 

And there’s more! While working together, we realised that emotional wellbeing is really important, and we decided to make it a regular part of Storytime! That was why we created a brand new section called My Mind Matters! From October, Jessica will be using this section to introduce ideas and activities about emotions, coping skills, and ideas that will help kids (and adults!) to communicate effectively about what they are feeling.

 

After all that we have been through in the past 18 months, we really wanted help our readers to stay healthy and happy. It’s our 7th anniversary and this is our little gift to you! We hope that you enjoy the Happiness Is… contest, the activity pack, and the new My Mind Matters! section. And now…. Let’s find out a bit more about the wonderful work Jessica does!

 

  1. How did you become involved in child psychology and counselling?

I have always loved working with, and spending time with children, and I have always worked within caring professions – it has given me a huge amount of professional satisfaction. When I embarked upon my counselling and psychotherapy training over 10 years ago, I just knew it would be a life-long love and passion. I have 3 young children, who have hugely inspired my journey as a well-being writer.

 

  1. You are a counsellor, psychotherapist and parent. What practical advice would you give to parents and carers when discussing emotions with their children at home?

Discussing, sharing and expressing feelings as part and parcel of everyday family life would be my key piece of advice. Normalising feelings like anger is hugely important, as it takes the shame away from experiencing them. Conversations might not always go perfectly, and we don’t always know what to say – but those difficult conversations are really important.

 

  1. And for teachers? In your experience, what is the best way to communicate about emotions in the classroom?

Similarly, using emotional literacy as part of everyday conversations with children. When reading books, teachers can ask how characters might have felt during a part of the story; engaging in discussions around naming and expressing feelings in positive ways.

 

  1. We are very happy to have you onboard as our Judge for the Happiness is…competition! It was great fun developing the activity pack together with you. What should our readers look for inspiration when trying to draw “happiness”? What will you be looking for in the entries?

I am so thrilled to be on board and excited to see all the entries. I am sure that all of the children will draw from their hearts and from their passion – those entries will stand out I’m sure! I write from my heart; I guess that is what I am looking for!

 

  1. From October, you’re also writing a new section in Storytime called My Mind Matters. Can you tell our readers a bit more about it? What ideas do you want to introduce in this new section?

I am so very excited about this. I want to develop children’s emotional literacy, emotional intelligence and understanding of mental health issues in an accessible way. I want to offer tips and insights about expressing emotions, building resilience and self-care. I hope that both children and parents find it helpful!

 

  1. We have bonded with you over our mutual love for stories and rhymes! What is the importance of stories in helping children to navigate through life and emotions? Do you think they are important tools for parents, carers and teachers too?

They are such an invaluable tool! Stories, like the wonderful ones in your magazine, deal with many different issues in a three-dimensional way; bringing them to life. Stories and illustrations can really deepen our understanding. They also bring us together and show us that we are not alone in the challenges we face.

 

  1. And talking about brilliant stories…. Your new book Fantastic Fin Faces his Fears has just come out! Tell us a bit more about it and what inspired you to write it?

Thank you! Fantastic Fin is a children’s picture book aimed at 4-7-year old children. It’s a rhyming story, where Fin embodies different characters and animals to build his courage and resilience and face his fears. There is a fear fact file at the back to help children, and tips for parents and carers too. My passion for writing exploded during lock down, and my inspiration was my oldest son Finlay, who is now 8 – he needed help and support with building his courage when he was younger, and I used these ideas with him. I was also a little girl who had huge feelings, and I would have greatly benefited from some insight and understanding about this – so I guess I am also writing for that little girl too!

 

– Sounds great! Where can readers find your book?

It is available from Amazon and you can find details about it from my website: www.jessicabowers.co.uk. You will also find a free 17 page activity and teaching resource pack there too, linked with the themes in the book.

 

  1. One of the many amazing things you do to support children’s mental health is running ‘Get Active With Emotions’ and workshops in schools. How did you start doing this, and what has the reaction been like from pupils?

My ideas to create these workshops were an extension of my writing during lockdown – I think there is a gap in schools for such workshops which develop children’s emotional well-being, and I have created workshops which strike a balance between being fun, engaging and informative. I am very excited to start delivering these from September 2021, and I am looking forward to gaining some feedback from schools, to help me develop more in future.

 

  1. What is the importance of caring/working on/ being aware of well-being from a very young age? Is there such a thing as too early to talk about emotions?

We look after our children’s well-being from birth (and in the womb), where we respond to their emotional needs as part of supporting their healthy development as a whole. As they start talking and from around 3, we can start to help little ones name their feelings, and model ways of expressing and managing them – so I think it is never too young to start.

 

  1. You have recently started to share some content on social media – and they are great! We know those nuggets of inspiration can be really welcome when someone is having a difficult day! How has the engagement been? Do you have any plans to develop it further? Are you doing any podcasts soon? What other ideas and projects should we look out for from you in the future?

Thank you – It took courage for me to start sharing my poems and insights, but I am pleased I have. I really want to educate and inspire others to look after their mental health and well-being and I have had such a positive response from those who follow me.  I will continue to post these as well as develop more children’s resources and activity packs. I am also continuing to publish my collection of well-being picture books – next comes Fab-filled Frankie’s Huge Heart (inspired by my daughter) who will be supporting children with separation and loss. I am also developing one of my workshops into a book to support children with expressing their emotions – using the concept ‘Let the Rain Fall so the Sun can Shine!’ where FALL is an acronym for ‘feel, act, listen and learn and let go’ – I feel very passionate about it. Andrew Whitehead (www.since6.co.uk)  the amazing Illustrator of Fantastic Fin has created some lovely visuals to engage the children with the concept.

 

I am on facebook and Instagram @jessicabowerswellbeingwriter and on Twitter @bowerswellbeing.

You can email me at enquiries@jessicabowers.co.uk.

Storytime Issue 85 Out Now!

 

This is a very special issue! It’s our 7th Anniversary edition and that means we have published almost 700 stories so far and we have learned a lot over the years alongside our readers! We hope you have enjoyed every single issue and we promise to keep bringing the most amazing stories every month for a long time to come!

Birthdays make us think how far have come. So, this month we bring you an issue full of valuable life lessons! We often just associate learning with school – but sometimes we can get the most enduring lessons from stories! We really believe that things we learn from stories are extra-special and stay with us for life.

 

Storytime Issue 85 – Learning Life Lessons!

In ancient times, fables were written to teach us while we were entertained. They usually had a moral lesson to every tale and was often spelled out in the end line. Our fable for this month is a particular delight. Bryony Crane (a lovely coincidence to have an artist with an appropriately bird-themed name!) created a vibrant art for The Peacock’s Feathers, a tale about how the vain peacock obtained his gorgeous plumage. The lesson he learns is that his finery comes at a cost!

 

Our cover story, The Flying Viking, is a fun fantasy romp about a clever boy named Ragnar who finds himself stranded on a volcanic island. He comes up with an ingenious invention to escape – and with the help with his strong mum and a new friend, he learns that team work goes a long a way. Daisy Ingrosso did an incredible job of bringing this story to life with her art.

 

The Golden Blackbird is a classic fairy about a boy’s quest to cure his father by finding the legendary bird. On his journey he meets fantastic characters, including a porcelain princess and a talking fox, and learns that it is important to stay true to yourself and persist, even in the face of mistakes and hardships. Despite the tale’s fantastical setting, his experiences should resonate with all of us! The story is lovely on its own, but Laura Brenlla really added some extra magic – her puzzle image of the porcelain princess in the river surrounded by red carp is a particular standout!!

 

Our Storyteller’s Corner has a simple lesson to tell but equally important nevertheless! The Sun, the Moon and the Wind is a fun and fanciful tale about the importance of manners and respecting your parents. Rendering the Sun, the Moon and the Wind as characters would be a challenge for any artist, but Ilias Sounas manages it with aplomb – he really brings them to life!

 

This month’s real-life story is about the young Marie Curie, one of the greatest scientists of all times. She faced many difficulties in her life to study and went on to change the world. Her determination and perseverance led her to make ground-breaking discoveries and change the world for the better, and we can all take inspiration from her achievements! Marie teaches us to never give up and to follow our ideals! The wonderful illustrations by Flavio Remontti really captures Marie and her upbringing in Poland in The Great Dance!

 

We can also learn a lesson about believing in our dreams from the Irish legend, The Dream of Oengus. The young prince of the title literally does that to win the heart of a fairy princess! Sara Ugolotti’s art complements the story’s dreamlike feel perfectly, evoking an imagined ancient Ireland. We can even hear the swan’s song on the final page – can you, as well? (Oh, and if you were wondering, the hero’s name can just be pronounced as ‘Angus’!)

 

When Life Gives You Apples is a bedtime story with a lesson about making the best of a difficult situation! We also learned that an apple “grumble” always makes everyone feel better so we are sharing the recipe on page 45. The always-amazing Giorgia Broseghini renders the story of the Seven Dwarfs dealing with a bumper apple harvest in vivid autumnal colours appropriate to the new season.

 

Lastly, we have a wonderfully positive story from Mali, titled The Happy Woman. Lwillys Tafur did a brilliant job rendering the colourful markets of the trading city of Timbuktu in Mali for this tale. It’s about an unhappy empress who sees a happy simple woman herding goats while carrying firewood and wearing a ragged shawl. The haughty ruler decides that it must be these possessions that make the lady so happy, so she buys them all! Of course, we all learn from this story that a positive attitude is much more important than acquiring even more possessions!

 

Oh, and mentioning the secrets of happiness – be sure to enter our competition this month and help us find what happiness really is! You can download our competition pack here and think about all the amazing tales we have shared with you and all the lessons we have learned together! We have a lot to celebrate this month and our 7th anniversary edition is our gift to our lovely readers! We hope you all feel happy and inspired after reading this issue as we did, creating it!

Happy Reading!

The Storytime Team

Best ‘Back-to-School’ Books

 

Have you got your back-to-school reading lined up yet? There’s no better way to prepare for the new school year than with one of these brilliant children’s books!

 

Parrot Street Book Club co-founder, Sarah Campbell, gives us the lowdown on how fiction can help your child with the transition back to school this September and which chapter books she recommends you reach for first.

As the long summer holidays draw to a close, some of our children may be feeling anxious about the return to school. Whether they’re starting somewhere new or simply moving up to a new class, the transition can be challenging, both academically and emotionally.

 

Reading can help our children express their feelings…

Reading broadens our children’s vocabulary, which obviously has enormous academic benefits, but also helps improve their emotional literacy too. Reading gives them the language to better express how they are feeling and explore their emotions in a healthy way. Being able to express yourself well also helps build confidence, which is so valuable at this time of year.

 

And make new friends!

Reading helps our children understand others – it’s crucial in developing a stronger sense of empathy and a host of other social skills. When our children read about a character in a book, they have a response to that character, either positive or negative or something in between, and those responses are great practice for when they meet and react to people in their real lives.

Navigating the complexities of social interaction can be much easier when you’re able to understand other perspectives. Reading is a great way to equip them with the skills they need for interacting with other people in their daily lives.

 

Read together

Reading together, even once our children are able to read independently, can offer the opportunity to discuss key issues that might be affecting them or making them feel anxious. Books allow our children to explore, question and work things out for themselves. Reading together and talking about what we’ve read can afford both parents and children the perfect opportunity to discuss difficult issues in a safe setting.

 

Books for back-to-school

If your child is worried or nervous about making the transition into the new school year, here are a few chapter books for kids aged 5 to 11 that we think might help:

 

Five Ways to Make a Friend by Gillian Cross, illustrated by Sarah Horne

This lovely book follows Ella as she starts at a new school. All she wants to do is find a friend, but it’s really hard. The girls aren’t interested in her and she doesn’t have the courage to just join in… When she finds a book about making friends, Ella decides to try out the tips it recommends. Perfect for 5+.

 

Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell

This volume in Chris Riddell’s bestselling and beautifully illustrated series follows Ottoline as she enrols at the Alice B Smith School for the Differently Gifted. Amongst new friends with a host of unique skills and talents, Ottoline sets out to discover her own different gift. Perfect for 7+.

 

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter

Aspiring comedian Billy is moving up to secondary school. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but especially for Billy who has a stammer. How will he find his voice, navigate his new school and make new friends, if his voice won’t let him speak? Perfect for 8+.

 

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian

This hilarious illustrated chapter book tells the story of Omar, who has just moved into a new house. Starting at his new school is ok, apart from the fact that class bully Daniel tells Omar that because he’s a Muslim, he’s going to be kicked out of the country. But when Omar and Daniel get stranded on a school trip, Omar realises that Danny isn’t so tough after all… Perfect for 8+.

 

Pie in the Sky by Remi Lai

When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture and making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English. Baking cakes is the only thing he can do to distract himself from the loneliness. This funny and moving story is packed with graphic novel elements. Perfect for 9+.

 

Parrot Street are an award-winning, book subscription box for 5 to 12 year-olds. We’ve teamed up with Sarah and the team to offer an exclusive discount for Storytime readers. Visit their website here and enter the code STORYTIME15 to receive a 15% discount, valid until the end of September

 

Happy reading,

 

The Storytime team

Add Magic to your Holidays!

 

Add Magic to your Holidays!

 

It’s the summer holidays! Dreams of endless ice-creams, warm waves, long days and outdoor picnics are on everyone’s minds. Of course kids are excited about being out of school and have all kinds of ideas about what they would like to do to fill up the (hopefully) warm, sunny days.

But after a while, the cries of ‘I’m bored! There’s nothing to DO!” will begin. Blame it on staycation, or on rainy days or simply because … there is a LOT of time to fill up! Summer is the time to go on adventures and make memories that will last a lifetime, and stories can provide great inspiration for fun activities.

Reading stories is great for bedtime and rainy days, but we also want stories to inspire our readers to get out and play! We have been digging for treasure in our archives and have found some great tales that inspire all kinds of fun summer activities…

 

1. Time for a Treasure Hunt! – ‘Alfie the Pirate’ (Storytime #30)

A little bit of imagination can transform an ordinary experience into something magical! Alfie proves this when he creates his own adventure in his backyard, and creates his own tale of action and adventure. Where would your kids like to go today? To a far-off land, a magical kingdom, or a distant planet?

Activity idea: Choose a theme for your adventure! Draw a treasure map of your home or garden and hide some special treats for the kids to find along the way. Make sure to come up with cool names and ideas for imaginary creatures and obstacles they might encounter on the way!

 

2. Go wild! – ‘The Selfish Giant’ (Storytime #28)

Parks are great places to explore – and they are even more fun with friends! This is what the giant discovers in Oscar Wilde’s classic tale, after all! Most parks have awesome playgrounds but don’t forget to explore the woodlands or the ponds nearby.

Activity idea: Why not take the kids on an impromptu wilderness expedition? Prepare a picnic and a little backpack with special “tools and toys” for the adventure. This way the day will feel like an expedition and when everyone is tired, you can set camp and share some yummy food!

 

3. Make a splash! – ‘Moon River Melody’ (Storytime #71)

There’s nothing like a swim on a hot summer day, as the Pied Piper learns when the Little Mermaid call for help! Beaches and public pools can be brilliant, but there are other options. A paddling pool or even a nice cool bath are refreshing too (can be great fun), especially if there are toys to play with.

Activity idea: If you don’t have a handy place to go swimming, why not visit some swimming friends at the local pond? Bring some bread, peas, sweetcorn and birdseed for the ducks and ducklings and other water birds! Imagine what life would be like if you were a duckling and make up stories about their adventures.

 

4. Visit animal friends from distant lands! – ‘Alphabet Zoo’ (Storytime #29-45)

Going to a zoo or city farm is educational and exciting! Our ‘Alphabet Zoo’ poems are all about the wonderful animals that can be found there. You can spot them in alphabetical order too – it can be really great fun reading the poems out loud! How many of the animals from the poems can you spot at the zoo?

Activity idea: Learning about animals is great fun! Why not print out some copies of the animal data card that you can download from HERE and write down the things you find out about them from the information posters at the zoo?

 

5. Travel through time! – ‘Away Game!’ (Storytime #78)

In this story, Lincoln and his friends go back in time and play football with some kids from the Middle Ages. We haven’t invented a time machine (yet!), but going to a museum or nearby historical place can be the next best thing! Kids can learn about what life was like in older times, and can imagine what their life would have been like if they live there and then! It’s exciting and educational – and a real time-travelling holiday adventure!

Activity idea: Make your time-trip even more fun by dressing up in costumes! The costumes can match the adventure and make it all more real! Kids can really bring history to life by pretending to speak and act as if they are really from a past era!

 

Whatever you do, we hope you have a great summer break, and do let us know what you get up to in the comments below!

Happy holidays,

 

The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 84 Out Now!

 

Stories are all about characters who take risks. After all, how interesting is a tale about someone who just stays somewhere safe and watches videos all day? This month’s is full stories about people who go in search of adventure – or are forced to take chances against their will!

 

Storytime Issue 84 – Taking Chances

Hans-My-Hedgehog is an absolutely charming fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm about a little boy who was born with hedgehog spines. He was brought up on a nice safe farm, but chooses to go and make his own way in the world, having faith that his good manners and sharp spines will protect him. Aleksei Zhdanov captures the wonder and whimsy of the story with his gorgeous illustrations.

 

Another classic story about a boy deciding to go outside their comfort zone in search of adventure is The Second Voyage of Sinbad. The intrepid adventurer leaves his luxurious home to sail into the unknown – and gets more than he bargained for! Pol Cunyat did an amazing job bringing the rocs, elephants and giant serpents the sailor encounters to life!

 

‘Prequels’ to well-known stories are popular these days, and we are excited to bring you the origin story of the world’s most famous legendary magician. Merlin and the Red Dragon is about how young Merlin (or ‘Myrddin’, in Welsh) met the warrior-king Vortigern. Many youngsters would have been afraid to meet such an important ruler, but not Myrddin! He was brave and courageous in his challenge, and told Vortigern about the dragons that battle beneath a hill – and what their struggle portends for Britain. The art is by the talented Werllen Holanda.

 

Of course, we can take chances in the modern day too! Guille Rancel did phenomenal work illustrating a timely tale called Gemma Levels Up. At the beginning of the summer holidays, Gemma was keen to get some gaming in, but is whisked away on a camping trip by her aunt and uncle instead. Let’s just say that she discovers that camping can be hard work – but fun, too!

 

I’m sure you know somebody that absolutely hates getting their hair cut! They might well identify with the hero of our short bedtime story, Billy Gets a Haircut, which features art by the redoubtable Giorgia Broseghini. William Gruff (of ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ fame) is hot and sweaty because of his long hair. But when he meets a fellow named Rumpelstiltskin who needs a blanket, he decides to overcome his fears and get a trim… After all, getting a new look is also taking a chance!

 

Sometimes, we can find ourselves in a risky situation against our will. This is what happens to a flock of doves in our fable, Strength In Unity, when they get trapped in a hunter’s net. Luckily, the king of the doves has a plan and some friends in town that can help. Dany Alvarez captures the feathery fun in her art.

 

For a real-life example of how taking chances can change the world, look no further than this month’s Amazing Adventure – Star Boy! The artist Veronica Carratello illustrated the tale of a boy called David who rejects a life in boring grey suburbia to follow his dreams of becoming a rock star. All the chances he took paid off in the end – and we hope you can hum a David Bowie song after reading his wonderful story!

 

Although taking chances can open us up to new experiences and help us grow as people, taking silly risks is not a good idea! That’s the lesson learned by the hero of the Irish folk tale Yellow Lily. A brash prince gambles against a giant and loses. He is made to do a series of seemingly impossible tasks in return, but luckily finds help from an unexpected source. Luminous art by Adam Pekalski makes this story into something special. We brought this story to life in our Storybox section and you can try to play Brandubh using the board on page 48!

 

We hope you always take your chances and go on to have some amazing adventures this summer! May our lovely folks in this issue inspire you to be brave, curious and most importantly, to have fun along the way! After all fun makes all journeys worth it!
See you all next month!

A Summer of Stories

 

A Summer of Stories!

 

Ah, Summer! It’s a time for outdoor adventures in the park, trips to the seaside, and making sunny memories that will last a lifetime. Keep some issues of Storytime by your side for when you’re lazing around in the shade and you are guaranteed the best Summer ever! Here is our countdown of some of our favourite Summery things… and the stories you can read about them!

 

7. Seagulls

Well, they’re not our favourite thing in the world, but they certainly make eating a treat on the beach a lot more exciting! Emily Cooper’s ‘The Seaside Scallywags’ from Storytime #47 is a story all about a seagull called Sidney who loves scavenging for your ice creams and hot chips!

 

6. Sunshine

We should get plenty of it this year – and sometimes it’s possible to get too much sun! For a reminder of how lovely and comforting the sun is to us all, read ‘The Wind and the Sun’ from Storytime #12. Like the boy in the story, we can’t help but smile and take our coats off when touched by those lovely warm rays…

 

5. Mermaids

Well, we can’t guarantee that you will actually see any mermaids at the beach this Summer! But imagining the lovely undersea life these creatures lead is a great way to add some magic to a seaside holiday. We have featured many mermaid tales, including ‘The Little Mermaid’ (Storytime #24), ‘Melusine’s Mystery’ (Storytime #48) and ‘The Mermaid and the Boy’ (Storytime #70). Enjoy these stories about how it’s better down where it’s wetter!

 

4. Seashells

There are so many of them, and no two are alike. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote a lovely poem called ‘Minnie and Winnie’, about two little girls who use a seashell as a bed. Check it out in Storytime #23

 

3. Sandcastles

You haven’t really been to the beach unless you have built a sandcastle… which was then washed away by the tide. (Never mind, you can build another one tomorrow.) For inspiration, read ‘The Sandcastle’ from Storytime #48!

 

2. Staycations

If you can’t get away this summer, remember that going on holiday is a state of mind! In ‘Tom Thumb’s Teeny Holiday”, from Storytime #60, our little hero has a fun summer holiday in his neighbourhood. Why not try out a mini-vacation in a park or garden? All you need is some treats, an umbrella, and a towel to lie on!

 

1. Playgrounds

Even if you aren’t going to the beach or embarking on a camping trip, a playground is a world of fun – and there are plenty of other kids to play with, too! ‘Playgrounds’ by Laurence Alma-Tadema in Storytime #46, is a all about the wonders that you can find there. School is off and you can play all summer long!

 

We hope that these stories will inspire you to enjoy this summer in full – wherever you are! All we need to make it perfect is a little bit of sunshine and a good story! We can help with the latter. Join our adventures and don’t forget your sunscreen! Happy Summer of stories everyone!

 

Happy reading,

 

The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 83 Out Now!

 

This month we would like to give you a ‘peek behind the scenes’ and talk about how we created the latest issue of Storytime. We hope you find this blog and the magazine interesting!

 

Storytime Issue 83 – Ready for Action!

The first thing you’ll notice when you rip open the envelope is the cover star. He’s the title character in the tale of The Monkey King. This story is adapted from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, and to say that this story is influential is an understatement! The story of Monkey and his friends is hundreds of years old, and it has inspired a popular TV series, the Dragonball cartoon, a series of Lego sets and even a rock opera by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewitt. Capturing that special ‘monkey magic’ was a challenge, but illustrator Hugo Cuellar did a spectacular job of bringing action, humour and colour to this epic. He gave us a fresh but faithful take on Monkey, his friends, and the strange creatures that they encountered!

 

The Chariot Race was submitted to us by Amanda Brandon, and we leaped at the chance to publish it. Kids are taught about the Roman era as part of the history curriculum, and it makes a great setting for stories. Amanda did excellent research, and also gave us relatable characters and thrilling action. Artists Ernest Sala and Mado Peña provided amazing visuals of a bygone time and rendered characters that we can care about and relate to. And if your kids are inspired by the excitement of chariot racing, they should definitely try the boardgame on page 48. It’s full of Roman-style thrills and spills!

 

Nadia, Who Dreamed of Flying! is set in more recent times and our nod to the Summer Olympics! It is about the childhood of famed gymnast Nadia Comăneci, and we could even use her own autobiography as reference when telling her story. Illustrator Roberta Bordone was able to watch TV footage of Nadia winning gold with a legendary ‘perfect 10’ performance at the 1968 Olympics. Our team at Storytime tells a story that will hopefully grip young readers while staying true to the athlete’s legacy.

 

The Sister of the Sun is a classic fairy tale with many tried-and-true ingredients: a young hero on a quest, a cunning fox companion, and wicked but easily fooled giants. We decided to give it a modern twist by commissioning Kim Zavesky to illustrate it. Kim brought a modern, slightly comic-bookish feel to the story which we hope you will like!

 

We love fables here at Storytime, and The Elephant Who Lost her Patience is a great one! It’s about a talkative ant who decides to take up residence in an elephant’s ear and won’t shut up! I’m sure that we can all identify with how that poor elephant must feel… Artist Azbeen livens up the story with fresh, fun artwork.

 

There is a craze for all things Scandinavian these days, from TV programmes to interiors, so you shall not be surprised that we have included a Scandi summer story in this issue. The Sea Lord’s Gift is a sweet folk tale from Finland about an elderly couple who live in a tiny shack on a little island and receive a magnificent cow from a certain powerful being. Eleonora de Pieri did the most wonderful job mixing whimsy and wonder in the artworks!

 

The next story takes us Down Under, for a legend set in the mythical Dreamtime before humans came to Australia. The Great Drought stars many of our favourite Australian animals, who try to solve an ecological crisis by getting a greedy frog to laugh. Artist Dnepwu was faced with the task of drawing a dozen different animals with varied personalities, and needless to say we were ecstatic with the results. One thing you will notice is that some of the creatures use modern items like bush hats or electric fans. We discussed this artistic choice at length, and decided to go with it as it made the animals relatable and added some extra humour!

 

When coming up with new bedtime stories, we like to set each other creative challenges! This month, the challenge was to come up with a fun story featuring Cinderella’s siblings. The Step-Sisters imagines what life is like for the twosome after Cinderella moves out. We won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say that it has a positive message about how good it is to get exercise! Giorgia Broseghini has been providing illustrations for us for our short stories and modern fairytale, and her work on this story is up to her usual impeccable standards.

 

We hope you enjoyed these little insights into how we created this issue. There’s a lot of research and attention in every issue – so we would love to know which story was your favourite this month. Let us know below. And that is it from us today! Happy reading!

Teaching with Stories!

 

Teaching with Stories!

 

Storytime is a big hit with families, but it is also popular with schools all over the world! Our colourful issues contain stories aimed at a variety of reading levels and cover a wide range of subjects and themes, which gives them broad appeal. Teachers also find that the magazine format is also less intimidating for reluctant readers than a traditional book.

 

We have received awesome feedback from the schools that subscribe to Storytime, and some teachers have even sent us tips about how they use the magazine in the classroom! We liked their feedback so much that we are sharing some of their ideas here – and we have also compiled them in a document you can download and share.

 

There is definitely more than one way to read Storytime! Trying out these tips will make classes more fun – and give you new ideas about how to add variety to catch-up with reading this summer.

 

Guided Reading

This is where the child reads a story they choose to themselves, but a grownup is nearby. You can ask them to read a paragraph or two out loud, and also help them with any difficult words they might encounter. It’s a great homework exercise, and can also be done during reading breaks. This exercise gives kids the confidence to try reading more challenging stories – and increase their vocabulary in the process!

At home: This approach is great when you want to help and encourage your children, but can’t give them 100% of your attention.

 

Shared reading

This is the classic ‘storytime’ situation, where you read a tale to them. This is a nice way to introduce children to stories they have not read before. Sharing a story in this way is a great bonding experience – even in the classroom. Let them interact with the story by showing them the illustrations and letting them ask questions. You can even add an imaginative/creative element to the experience by encouraging them to come up with their own endings!

At home: There’s nothing like a bedtime-story experience. If you are doing it in the evening, make sure to choose calming and positive stories to give the little ones sweet dreams.

 

1-to-1 reading

This is similar to shared reading, but you encourage the kids to read along with you. Ideal for beginning or reluctant readers! Reading along with a child is a great way to build confidence and a love of stories. Don’t let shyness stop them from reading – if you sense they are having difficulties with a word or two, you can join in and make sure they can get going again. A supportive exercise that is also great fun!

At home: Do this with siblings and cousins and make it a family game!

 

Peer-to-peer reading

If children with different reading levels around, they can read to each other and help each other out with any tricky words or phrases! This is a good way for children to share their knowledge and support each other. Plus, it is sure to spark discussions about what things mean or what might happen next! Children can take turns choosing their favourite stories. We’ve put together a Reading Buddies guided reading pack that you can use for your school here.

At home: If you have two or more children around, it’s a good pastime to keep them engaged and have them entertain each other. An excellent friends and sibling-bonding activity!

 

Independent reading Do you have reading breaks at your school? This is where a child picks a story and reads it on their own, with no tests, no deadlines and no instructions! It’s a lovely way to introduce children to the pleasure of a good story. Reading breaks are now a standard activity in many schools around the country, and are great at encouraging kids to become enthusiastic readers!

At home: It is lovely for a child to be able to relax and read independently after a busy day at school. Parents can share this ‘quiet time’ by reading a book of their own. It is a great reminder that reading can be a pleasurable and relaxing activity!

 

Reading for fun is the best way to fall in love with the habit of reading! We created Storytime to make reading enjoyable for everyone, and can think of many more ways to share stories in the classroom and at home. As a parent, carer or a teacher, what are your favourite ways to read Storytime? Let us know below in the comments. And of course, a BIG thank-you to all of the teachers who shared their tips with us!

 

Happy reading,

 

The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 82 Out Now!

 

In the pages of Storytime, heroes come in all shapes and sizes! We have mighty heroes and heroines, plucky kids, and even supernatural beings, but our favourite stories are probably those that feature amazing animals! That’s why this month’s issue was a special treat for us!

 

Storytime Issue 82 – Lions and Tigers and Lizards, Oh My!

The cover star is Sanka, star of A Tiger’s Journey. She, her mother and brother live in the forests of Siberia, but are forced to go looking for a new home when loggers begin destroying their environment. We did our best to capture an animal’s point of view and take you on a real tiger’s journey – and as you can see, artist Chloe Chang did an absolutely incredible job bringing Sanka and her forest to life.

 

Another big cat stars in this month’s fable, The Lion in Love. The wonderful Fabiana Faiallo illustrates this story of a lion who gets a makeover to impress his special someone – but learns how that you should stray true to who you really are. Like the very best fables, it is a lot of fun, but makes you think at the same time.

 

Uletka and the White Lizard may have an animal in the title – but once you read it, you will see that there is more to that reptile than meets the eye! The story is a wonderful fairy tale about a girl on the run from the evil fairy who turned her mother into a water lily blossom, and Victoria Starskaia has sprinkled the art with a little bit of her own enchantment…

 

Animals come to rescue in our bedtime story too! It’s the time of year where we feel like doing a bit of spring cleaning… but tidying up the house leads to an unexpected mishap in Thumbelina’s Sneeze, illustrated by Storytime favourite Giorgia Broseghini! When the tiny heroine finds herself far from home, she has to ask a toad, a mole and a swallow for help getting home.

 

In our Around the World Tale, the golden boy Kintaro’s life is transformed by a friendship with animals. He is a famous character in Japanese folklore and possesses the strength and costume of a true superhero. He has plays in the woods with his friends – but his strength will not go unnoticed. Ivan Barrera does a wonderful job of bringing this tale to life.

 

Would a fantastic creature count as an animal? We Watch out for the one guarding the Golden Fleece! In our Myths and Legends, we have a whole lot of Ancient Greek heroes teaming up to fulfil an epic quest! Santi Salas illustrates Jason and the Argonauts with some lovely details! It’s the superstar team-up mythology fans have been waiting for waiting for…

 

We have to admit that not ALL of this month’s stories feature animal – but we’re sure you won’t mind! Fabio Mancini captures the fun and whimsy of The Magic Mirror, a Spanish story about how a king looks for love using the powers of a barber’s mystical mirror. As you might expect, it’s a tale with a lesson to teach about how appearances can be deceptive!

 

Have you ever wondered how things are built? This month’s final story is sure to inspire any child interested in STEM subjects. Artist Arianna Bellucci puts her own special touch on The Junkyard Genius. It’s the true story of William Kamkwamba, a teenager from Malawi who taught himself electrical engineering and built an electricity-generating windmill from scrap! We hope this story makes you want to find out more about William and his achievements.

 

We hope this issue will inspire our readers in more than one way! Let us know below which story was your favourite this month!