Storytime Issue 112 Out Now!

Santa Gets Kidnapped


Giving the Gift of Empathy

It’s almost Christmas– a time when we think of gifts for those we care about!


One of the best things we can give our loved ones has to be the gift of empathy. This is the ability to understand other people’s emotions and imagine what it would be like to be in their situation. It is a vital life skill, whether we are interacting with family, hanging out with friends, or meeting strangers for the first time. That’s why empathy is the topic of the My Mind Matters! section of Storytime this month!


There are many ways that we can help kids to develop their empathy skills. For example, you can ask them how they are feeling to develop awareness of their own emotional state, ask they how other people may be feeling, or suggest how they might be able to show empathy for others. But some of the best tools for developing empathy are actually stories!


When we read a good story, we are transported into its world. We get to imagine what the characters are going through and share their journeys and experiences with them. They could be older than younger than us, from a different culture, or even a different species. (Animal fables are popular all over the world!)


That’s why reading a gripping tale can be an amazing emotional workout that can help us to connect and empathise with others.


This month sees the release of our Christmas issue, which is full of stories about various aspects of empathy. Let’s have a look at what they can teach us…


Santa Gets Kidnapped

Santa Gets Kidnapped (illustrated by the talented Giulia de Cara) is based on a story by L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The kidnappers in this tale are wicked imps who are upset about how Santa spreads happy feelings throughout the world. This story is clever because it helps us to sympathise with the imps to a degree… even though Santa’s generosity and positive perspective wins out in the end. It would be great if all of us could carry some of the old fellow’s good energy into the New Year!


On that theme, New Year’s Nonsense is all about resolutions – the only twist is that it is animals that are trying to change, with hilarious results! The idea is to take something very human and relatable (trying to change, and finding it’s difficult), but looking at it from another point of view (that of animals). We hope that this story helps you to empathise with the way animals see the world while being great fun. Júnior Caramez did a fabulous job of bringing out the humour and ridiculousness in his art!


Through stories, we can also empathise with things that aren’t actually alive! This is the case with The Nutcracker’s Sweets, a bedtimes story based on a classic tale (and an opera). It gives you a chance to imagine what life is like for a toy on Christmas evening, and artist Rose Skelton really brings them to life…


 The Musical Donkey takes us along with a humble donkey as he gets lured into stealing cucumbers by a ne’er-do-well jackal. We’re guessing that no actual donkeys reading this, but readers will no doubt be able to identify with the beast… especially as it is so well rendered by Renata Souza!


Themes of kindness and love for others are particularly important in this Christmas issue, of course! The Cat and the Cradle (featuring art by the redoubtable Thais Castro) is a classic Dutch story about how a cat saves a baby, some kittens and a chick from a flood. If a cat can be so empathic to other species, so can we!


The Christmas Cuckoo has another classic festive theme. When a bird offers gifts to a pair of poor brothers, one asks for money and the other for happiness. Laura Dìez illustrated this story that shows us how generosity and caring for others can make us all better and happier people.


As you might guess, Good King Wenceslas is inspired by the classic Christmas carol, which has a similar theme. Instead of celebrating the Feast of Stephen in his snug castle, the ruler decides to bring gifts to an old man gathering sticks in the snow. He empathises with the old man’s plight, and that is something that we might all need to do this winter. Dmitrij Hladkyi’s beautiful art complements the story perfectly.


This month’s real-life story, The Throneless Prince comes from another time and another culture. A boy named Qiu grew up in China more than two thousand years ago, but we hope you will find his story engaging. He hoped for a world in which rulers and people in general would respect and care for one another – which we can all identify with! Zeke Nguyen created luminous pictures of the childhood of ‘King Fuze’, who we might know better as ‘Confucius’.


We hope you enjoy these tales and enjoyed going on an empathic adventure with their characters!


The Storytime team wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Witches Are Wonderful

Witches Are Wonderful


Witches feature in many of our tales – often in fairy tales, and mostly as villainesses! But are they really that bad? This month’s blog is all about looking at them from a new point of view!


This month, we were lucky enough to go to a talk at the British Library in London. It was by Rhianna Pratchett and Gabrielle Kent, who have just written a book called Tiffany Aching’s Guide to Being a Witch.


Rhianna’s dad is Sir Terry Pratchett, who wrote more than forty novels set on the fabulous ‘Discworld’. Five of them are about a young witch called Tiffany Aching, and they make wonderful reading for kids and adults alike.  We recommend that you check out The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight, as they are exciting, funny and full of wisdom! There were lots of young Pratchett fans at the talk, and they asked lots of interesting questions.


In her talk, Rhianna and Gabrielle discussed witches, and why they are inspiring! They certainly inspired us to write this blog about why witches are wonderful… By the time you finish reading this you might have fallen in love with witches, just like we did!

  1. They make amazing villains!

Stories need foes for the main characters to overcome. A story where the hero doesn’t have someone to threaten or challenge them would get very boring indeed! Witches make great foes because they are slightly scary and have magical powers. That makes them more interesting than another wicked vizier or menacing dragon…

  1. They are smart (usually)!

One of the things that makes witches good foes is that they know things, and knowing things is cool! They know the secrets of magic, and often come up with cunning plans.

But did you know that Fairy tale witches were partly inspired by real-life wise women who knew a lot about herbs, healing, and caring for plants and animals. People went to them for help when things went wrong. The problem is, when sickness or other disasters struck, people often blamed these wise women for causing them with curses – this led to horrible ‘witch-hunts’ where innocent women were punished!

  1. They do their own thing!

In stories, nobody tells witches what to do! They live by themselves, have their own plans and schemes, and don’t do whatever a king or queen tells them. That makes witches extra-cool!

  1. Some ‘wicked’ witches might have a point!

In stories, these characters usually live by themselves in the middle of the forest… which should be a hint that they want to be left alone. We can’t blame them for being upset if kids lost in the forest keep barging into their homes! This is especially true of the witch in the story of Hansel and Gretel. The children did eat her home before she decided to imprison them…

  1. Witches can be good, too!

In stories, some witches use their powers for good! Think of Glinda the Good Witch from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or La Befana, the Italian witch that delivers baked treats to kids at Christmastime. The Discworld books by Sir Terry Pratchett also feature witches as heroes! They may be grumpy or awkward or scary, but they care about their communities and do their best to help people who need it…Witches Are Wonderful

  1. They are stylish!

Witches are known for their distinctive fashion sense! A pointy hat with a wide brim is practical and eye-catching, and black clothes never go out of style! Dressing like a witch (and even decorating your home in a witchy way) is becoming trendy. There is even a new name for this style: #witchcore

  1. They like cats!

Many witches from myths and stories had magical companion animals called ‘familiars’, and they often took the form of cats. Cats are cute and cuddly and awesome, so the witches that own them are awesome too!


Which witch is your favourite, and why do you think they are amazing? Let us know!

Rhianna and Gabrielle’s talk was part of the British Library’s Fantasy: Realms of Imagination event, which is going on for the next few months. There is an exhibition of fantasy-related books and art as well as talks by fantasy authors and discussions about subjects like making up fictional worlds. You can go to events in person or watch them online if you can’t get into central London.

For tickets and details, go to:

Storytime Issue 111 Out Now!


The Magic of Art

Every tale you read in Storytime is a team effort – but we must also give extra credit to the amazing artists who give them life and colour! They bring their own unique talents, ideas and visions and transform the stories they work on.


This month our tales offer a feast of delightful characters and magical spaces where adventures happen… so we would like to invite you to visit them all, and point out some special touches. We hope this encourages you to take a second look at their amazing work!

Cool as a Capybara is a fun story about some animals who get trapped by a flood in the Amazon rainforest. Don’t worry, they get rescued by the unsung heroes of the jungle, a herd of capybaras – the world’s biggest rodents! Saemi Oliveira had the challenge of making the many creatures in this story realistic and recognisable while also making them cute and lovable at the same time. We think you’ll agree that Saemi got the balance just right!


Folk tales are often about characters who enter a world of enchantment where nothing is as it seems! White-Thorn and the Talking Bird is a classic example from Britanny. Michela Peloso uses simple lines and flowing inks or watercolours to give the story an appropriately dreamlike feel. Her rendering of the magical ‘Sea-Cow’ that the heroine encounters is wonderfully creative and magical, but makes perfect sense in a folk tale reality. Be sure to check it out!


Lily Fosset faced a unique challenge when illustrating the story of Vincent Van Gogh’s childhood in The Fire Inside. She borrows elements of Van Gogh’s style (especially the textures of the trees and grass and the swirls in the sky), welcoming us into Vincent’s world in a light and approachable way.

Reading a fairy tale can be a wonderful experience, but some places can seem a bit repetitive in old classics.



There are so many struggling heroes or heroines, mysterious helpers, quests and strange rituals in these stories, so what can an artist do to keep the reading experience fresh? Diletta Sartorio made the tale of The Crystal Ball charming and lively by giving all of the characters vivid personalities! Carlotta the heroine is perky and determined, the ogres she encounters are hilariously goofy, and the bull she tames comes across as cute and loveable. We welcome a fresh take into classic tales and believe that’s how we should bring them to a new young audience. Do you have a favourite character in this one?


Many of our bedtime stories feature characters from popular stories and fairy tales. Many of them have appeared in iconic films and cartoons, so our artists face the challenge of creating  a cool new look for these beloved figures. Matea Anic came up with wonderful renditions of Sleeping Beauty, her fairy godmother and the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland for Second-Hand Magic. You recognise them immediately and yet they don’t look anything like the versions you will have seen elsewhere in popular culture. They are totally fresh and original, while fitting the characters perfectly!


We’re proud of featuring stories from all over the world in the pages of our magazine, but what does an artist do when they have to illustrate a story from a culture they’re not familiar with? For Truc Nhi Hoang, the answer is: do plenty of research and immerse yourself in the art of the culture the story comes from! Nanabush and the Thunderbird is a legend from the Ojibwe people of North America, and the artist combined elements of their colourful and abstract art into her own style to render this story in a unique and colourful way that stays true to its origins. Bravo!


Jokwa and the Stones of Five Colours is a Japanese story about brave heroes who battle a wicked giant! Kaori Iha’s renditions of waves and mountains remind us of similar scenes from classic Japanese art (especially the woodblock prints of Hiroshige). They are as magnificent as the story and its characters, so much so that we can almost hear their sounds.




When faced with illustrating the fable of The Bat, the Bramble and the Seagull for this issue, Samantha Davies created a wonderful and detailed place for these characters to live in! Look at all the detail in the background of the opening spread. Characters throng the docks of the harbour and buildings loom in the background and fade into the distance! The art is truly beautiful and invites you to explore it with your eyes…


We hope you enjoy the vibrant art of this issue as much as loved featuring these magic places, so full of colours. These tales may inspire you to learn more about each world and creature featured, more so they may also turn out to be treasure forever in your imagination. Long live stories and beautiful art, we say!

The Magic of Storytelling

Babbu - The Magic of Storytelling

The Magic of Storytelling by Jane Magnani

As a parent of young children, you’re already well aware of the endless energy, curiosity, and boundless imagination that your little one has. The early years are a crucial time for their development, and one of the most delightful and impactful ways to foster that development is through the power of storytelling.


So, what do we mean by storytelling?

Storytelling may seem like a lost art in a world filled with screens and devices. But in reality, it’s a timeless and invaluable tradition. Storytelling is not just a bedtime ritual and isn’t limited to the words within the pages of a book; it’s a dynamic and engaging process that can take many forms.

It’s the journey of sharing narratives, ideas, and experiences, captivating your little one’s imagination and creativity and influencing their development.

So, let’s jump into the world of storytelling and find out how we can harness its benefits and advantages to nurture our little one’s growth and development in an engaging and fun way!


What can we do to create a storytelling culture in our little ones?

Make It Engaging

  • Use an expressive voice when you read to your little one. This will help to keep their attention and make the story more engaging.
  • Use different voices for different characters in the book to add excitement and help with understanding.
  • Take breaks to comment on the pictures or text and point out interesting things to them. This will help to keep them engaged and encourage them to interact with the story.
  • Use a singsong voice! Sing along to the words and clap along, changing the speed of the claps from fast to slow.
  • Clap your hands or pat your legs to count the syllables as you sing a simple rhyme or read a sentence from a book.

Add Instruments

  • Create baskets with different instruments, such as shakers, bells, and xylophones or household items, such as wooden spoons, metal spoons, pots and pans, to enhance the storytelling experience.
  • Create your own shakers, using plastic bottles and adding rice, beans or pasta.

Create a Reading Corner

  • Set up a special reading spot in your home and decorate it together.
  • Set up books in boxes or baskets to be available for little hands.
  • Make it cosy with pillows and blankets or fairy lights.
  • Include props, some toys, small people, and stuffed animals that can represent characters in stories, such as a dog for “Where’s Spot” or a caterpillar or butterfly for “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.
  • Add a range of reading materials, books, magazines, age-appropriate newspapers and fact books.

Follow Their Lead

  • Let your little one’s interests guide you when choosing books to read.
  • Let them choose their book even if you read it yesterday! Feel free to read them repeatedly. This will help to reinforce their love of reading and encourage a lifelong habit of reading for pleasure.
  • Provide them with opportunities to handle books and magazines independently; let them choose the stories they would like in the box.
  • Add books to their play; for example, if they like playing with the dinosaurs, get some dinosaur books they can see and interact with when playing.

Make a Daily Activity

  • Sharing stories creates a special bond between you and your child. A moment of closeness and security that fosters a strong emotional connection.
  • When reading together becomes a regular part of your family routine, your little one will learn that it is something to be enjoyed. That attitude will instil a love of reading that will carry them through school and adulthood.

Sensory Stimulation

  • Add sensory elements to the storytelling, like textures in touch-and-feel books.
  • Collect materials of different textures for self-expression, such as pom poms, ribbons, scarves, hula hoops, etc.
  • Add natural materials to your storytelling; for example, if storytelling “We are going on a Bear Hunt” collect mud, grass, and sticks to create a sensory experience that immerses your child in the story.
  • Encourage them to feel the materials, the squishiness, the softness, and the different textures.

Story Sacks

  • Creating a Story Sack will help your little one bring their favourite stories to life!
  • Choose a story with your little one.
  • Collect materials and props that relate to the story or theme.
  • These can include figurines, toy animals, dolls, miniature furniture, blocks, natural materials like pebbles and twigs, stuffed animals and any other items that can represent elements from the story.

Small World

  • Select a beloved children’s story or theme with your little one.
  • Gather materials and props related to the narrative, from figurines small toys to miniature furniture and natural resources like pebbles, sand, twigs, fabric materials, water, etc.
  • Find a suitable base (tray or shallow box) with plenty of space.
  • Arrange these items to bring the story’s setting to life; for instance, you might create a miniature house and add wooden blocks as bricks, straw and twigs for “The Three Little Pigs.”
  • Encourage them to expand and change the small world over time, introducing new characters and props for fresh adventures.
  • Follow their lead and allow them to be in charge of retelling the story however they want.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

  • Engage your child by asking open-ended questions such as why, how, where, what, etc., to encourage thinking to interact with the story., e.g. “What do you think the little bear will do next? Why do you think he’s feeling sad?”
  • Relate the story to their daily experiences or emotions, making it relevant to them. Why do you think the child is feeling sad?” “Can you think of a time when you were sad?” “What do you think the bear should do to feel better?
  • Give them plenty of time to respond and join in.
  • Comment on things happening, the pictures, characters, gestures, etc.
  • Create your own stories, including your child’s experiences and interests, whether about their adventure at the park or a tale about their favourite toy.


With storytelling, you’re not just creating moments of joy and wonder; you’re boosting your child’s development in an engaging and fun way.

Plus, the time you spend together telling stories can create lasting memories and form a foundation for a lifelong love of learning!

So, embrace the power of storytelling and let your child’s imagination soar!


Credit: Babbu – The Magic of Storytelling by Jane Magnani


Book Clubs Are For Curious Kids!

Book Clubs Are For Curious Kids!


Encouraging kids to read for fun is our core mission – and we are never short of ideas about how to encourage it! You might have noticed that in the latest issue of Storytime, we have introduced a new section, the story club!

We believe that getting kids together to share tales with their friends is a brilliant way to build their love of reading and every month we will bring ideas to your club and hope to inspire everyone and every school to start one.


What is a story club?

A Story Club is like a book club (where a group of people get together to discuss a book they are all reading). However, a Story Club can be lighter and easier to early readers. Also, it can be more varied or more frequent and it is often possible for the members to read together during a session, as stories are shorter than books!


Why is it good for kids to join a story club?

  • It gets everyone reading! Fostering a love of reading is key to a child’s development, and research indicates that this has beneficial effects on their education. As a bonus, it opens them up to a world of fun and fascinating tales! Being a member of a club with their friends can motivate kids to read so they can share the story club experience…Book Clubs Are For Curious Kids!
  • It encourages curiosity! We provide sheets of questions and activities designed to encourage kids to discuss the things they have read and share ideas. Asking questions is the key to learning more about the world! They can also take on board ideas and perspectives from other members of the club.
  • It’s a wonderful way of discovering new stories! Members of the club can choose different stories to share with the group. Everybody has different tastes, so kids can discover new and interesting stories in this way. For example, a lover of sports stories might find that they also enjoy fairy tales or sci-fi adventures too…
  • It creates a fun and safe social space! Meetings give children a chance to talk with others and communicate ideas. Shy kids get a chance to speak about stories they like, which will build their social confidence and communication skills.


Setting Up a Story Club

We have had many requests for book club tips before, so we hope we’ve made teachers, carers, parents, and grandparents interested in setting up a story club for their kids! We will be providing guidance, downloadables and activities in future issues of Storytime. Look out for them every month – but here are some key things that you might want to think about when setting up a reading club.

  • Where should they meet? Would it be convenient for them to meet at somebody’s house? Could they use a classroom or a space in the school library?
  • How often should they meet? Think about your group! Would it be better for them to meet every week, or would once a fortnight give more flexibility?
  • What stories should they read? We would encourage the members of a club to vote on which stories they will read, but it can be useful to set up a ‘shortlist’ for them to pick from. This could include tales that are relevant to the curriculum students are on.
  • How long the will the sessions be? What is the best time to get them together? At the weekend? After school? During the lunch break? Make sure it’s easy and accessible to everyone to attend and they do not need to be too long either.
  • What should they look forward to? Takeaways are great things from the club – perhaps they will learn to interpret stories. Some clubs are all about crafts and activities, or new themes the group would like to discuss. And others might want to have a message or learning with every tale. You can choose the purpose of the sessions and make sure the readers make the most of the story. One thing is for certain – stories we fall in love with tend to stay with us forever.


We hope you’re as enthusiastic about story clubs as we are! If you have been with us until this very last line, we are sure you are also full of ideas for your club! Share with us and tag @storytimemag if you start something that you would like us to share and repost. We would love to see what stories you are reading, and we look forward to many more story lovers in our community! Happy reading, all!


Storytime Issue 110 Out Now!

Issue 110 In praise of animals!


In Praise of Animals!

The team here at Storytime loves a good animal story – and we’re not alone! Myths about talking beasts and ancient animal spirits can be found all around the world, and date back many thousands of years.


Fast-forward to the modern day, and we will find countless children’s books and animated films filled with cute creatures of all kinds. But what makes stories about animals so appealing?


It might be because we see ourselves reflected in them. Animal characters that behave like humans (the fancy word for this is anthropomorphic animals) are like us, but cute and cuddly at the same time. Animals can also represent our qualities, and many sides of ourselves – think of a courageous lion or a cunning fox.


And finally, they encourage us to look at the world from a different point of view, which is what all good stories do. If you read a story about a dolphin’s life, say, then you will learn to see things from a new and interesting perspective. Or perhaps a farm animal and their routine and habits, then you will see a life you could not have known otherwise.


But one thing we cannot forget to add, they are great fun! Humour is something animal tales have galore! As it happens, the latest issue of Storytime is chock-full of tales about animals of all kinds. Let’s have a look at the way they use creatures as characters…


Our cover star is Machali the Tigress, rendered in magnificent colours by Julia Cherednichenko. Machali was a real tiger who prowled through Rantahmbore National Park in India. She was famed for her fierceness and the many cubs she gave birth to! This tale attempts to portray her as she really was and gives a tiger’s eye view of the world. And what they would have said if they could talk! Hopefully, reading it will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of these unique and magnificent creatures.


The Lion’s Fears, on the other hand, is a classic fable, where animals represent aspects of ourselves and the story is intended to teach us a lesson. The lion is, of course, a brave and fierce individual… though he learns that everyone is scared of something. Alice Risi depicts the animals of the jungle in a bright and lively fashion that complements the tone of the story perfectly.


Animals can also be used to address important issues in an approachable way. A famous example, of course, is Animal Farm by George Orwell, which delivered a serious political message using animal characters. A Sky Full of Swallows also addresses a serious theme with a light touch.


After frolicking in a meadow, a group of young animals lie back and look at the clouds and say what they would most like to see when they look at the sky… and what terrible things might also come down out of the blue. Ana Pavlenko wrote this story, which is a parable about what is now happening in her home country of Ukraine, and it is very moving. By using gentle animal characters and avoiding specifics, she delivers her message in a powerful way. Carlotta Notaro provided the art, which perfectly combines whimsy and a gentle sense of melancholy.


Stories about mythical creatures tap into our fears of the wilderness and the unknown. These magical beasts have strange powers and punish interlopers but also have many animal characteristics to them. That’s certainly the case in The Baby Bunyip. As you may know, this creature from Indigenous Australian legends is supposed to dwell in billabongs (oxbow lakes) and can menace the unwary. Evelina Losich did a magnificent job of illustrating this tale about what happens when a boy decides to interfere with the creature’s natural habitat and take the baby away from it. The lesson is clear: show respect to nature – or else!


Stories can put animals into human situations for comedic effect, as is done in the short bedtime story Sports Day for Hans. You might remember Hans-my-Hedgehog from the fairy tale of the same name in issue 84, and in this story, he is taking part in a PE contest against his will! Though he is an animal, we can identify with his situation, and Karyne Kuy’s art makes it extra-fun.


The endearing The Mansion of the Cats also puts animals into an interesting situation to create a funny fairy tale. This Italian story stars a girl who becomes a maid to a house full of furry felines and they are all over the pages, and Silvia Maria Becerril Guillermo really brought them to life in great style.


Of course, sometimes animals have qualities that inspire us humans to do better! Fabio Mancini has a flair for historical art, and he used his talents to the full when illustrating The Spider in the Cave. It’s inspired by a Sir Walter Scott tale about the Scottish noble (and later king!) Robert the Bruce. When he was on the run from his enemies and about to give up, he sees a spider trying to spin a web – and not giving up! This is a wonderful and uplifting story about what animals can teach us. Historians might say it didn’t actually happen, but stories make us believe otherwise.


Sorry, animal fans, but not ALL of the stories in this issue feature animals! We have a little exception but for a great reason…it was too much fun to leave it out!  Minnikin is a quirky fairy tale about a very young hero who rescues a princess with a little help from his flying ship. Paula Monise did a wonderful job capturing the wit and charm of Minnikin and his world in her illustrations – we’re sure you will love them.


We hope you enjoyed this tour through the menagerie of the month! Be sure to tell us which story you liked best when you get a chance to read them. This issue is loud and bold, and you might hear it roaring if you listen close enough… Brave readers, enjoy!

Get Creative With Rhymes

Get Creative With Rhymes


Get Creative With RhymesThe new issue of Storytime features our latest competition! The Story Rhyme! contest opened on August 2nd, and it challenges kids to write cool poems about their favourite place in the world. It was inspired by a wonderful story, ‘The Stolen Treasure’ by Ellie Williams, a fun tale about a seasick pirate who finds a wonderful new home.


We believe that writing poetry is a great way for children to express themselves creatively and discover the joy of playing with language.


We’d love it if your little ones entered the contest, and this blog gives tips on how to help and encourage them in their poetic endeavours!


The first step is to download our special Story Rhyme! Competition pack. It introduces kids to different poem types and poetic techniques and includes many different puzzles and games to get them inspired to write works of their own.


Creating poems can be playful and fun, and it’s an excellent way to let children’s’ mind run free!



If they send their creation in to us by 30th November 2023, they could win prizes: the winning poet will get their masterpiece printed in Storytime, a printed certificate, a cool book bundle, and a Storytime Hub subscription for the whole school for a year!


Here are some ideas to help get your kids’ creative juices flowing!

  • Get a notebook! Encourage them to jot down cool words, images, rhymes and phrases that come to mind. Then, when they sit down to create their poem, they will have material for inspiration!


  • Poets read poems! Other poets can be a brilliant source of ideas! Help your little ones to find poems online or in the library. They can also ask people they know to recommend their favourite poems. Inspiration can be found in unusual places – for example, the Poems on the Underground programme puts interesting pieces of writing in carriages on the London tube network!


  • Write regularly! Ask them to write a short verse or just note down a cool image or phrase once a day. Make writing a habit, but keep it light and fun… poetry doesn’t have to feel like homework!


  • Go with the flow! Kid should feel free to experiment and try out new ideas when writing poems, even if they don’t quite work out!


  • Try something new! If your little poets aren’t feeling inspired, get them to write a new type of poem. The Story Rhyme! Competition pack has a list of them! They could a go at a haiku, go crazy with a nonsense poem, or carve out a concrete poem in the shape of its subject!


  • Have fun with poetic techniques! The Story Rhyme! Competition pack also includes information on different poetic tricks they can use. You’ll be surprised by the cool rhymes, similes, metaphors and alliterations your kids can create!


  • Look at life in a poetic way! Ask them to describe interesting things you see in poetic terms. Things like, ‘That storm cloud hangs like a heavy hammer over the neighbourhood’ or ‘the bus crawled up the road like a ladybug down a flower stem…’ Thinking like a poet can make their life brighter and more interesting!


We are already so inspired just thinking of all the places we will visit through the amazing poems coming our way! Where will your children’s poems take us? We look forward to reading all their wonderful entries for our contest – get scribbling, you all, poets of tomorrow!


Download your our special Story Rhyme! Competition pack here.

We are excited about receiving your entry!  The closing date is 30th November 2023. Enter today to win some fabulous prizes!

The story so far…


It feels like only yesterday that Storytime was just a wonderful idea … and now the world’s favourite story magazine is turning 9!  It’s a pinch-us moment, something that we couldn’t even have imagined when the first issue was published back in September 2014.


We human beings are made of stories, so we’d like to use this very special moment to share our story as well! We have been so busy crafting tales for you all and building our brand that we have never told you about the amazing journey we have been on! Here we go…


We are Leslie Coathup and Lulu Skantze, and we met more than 20 years ago – when we were working in publishing, and we collaborated on many projects. We also shared a love for books and knew that literacy and reading for pleasure could change lives.  Books and magazines had certainly been very important to both of us as children.


We believed stories could change the world as they allow us to dream, to be brave, to imagine new opportunities and to learn resilience. Stories can question old ideas, introduce us to new cultures and take us further than we can even imagine. Storytime was born from our belief that the world needed more stories, and we wanted to bring it to life in a fun, modern and engaging way.


There turned out to be a real market for this kind of magazine… and we discovered that it was even hit among kids who didn’t even know that they loved reading! Schools all over the world started buying Storytime, and reluctant readers in particular enjoyed lavishly-illustrated tales in an approachable magazine format with no ads and no plastic. Schools in over 60 countries now use Storytime to teach English and to foster curiosity and creativity in the classroom.


The next amazing thing we discovered was that the appeal of Storytime crosses linguistic boundaries… such is the power of stories! Collaborations and licensing with international partners have led to the creation of Storytime editions in other continents. There are now millions of readers that read the same story as you every month all around the world. It’s wonderful how a love of stories connects us all, no matter how far apart we may be…


We kept dreaming big and decided to find new ways to deliver fun stories to people. That was how the Storytime Hub was born! Creating audio and digital versions of our entire catalogue of over 850 stories was a huge task to undertake during the lockdown years, but we couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished.


Having audio versions of our magazines available alongside digital issues allows us to reach those that cannot get Storytime in the post and has allowed for entire schools to use our magazine as an essential tool for teaching! Having stories delivered in more than one format makes Storytime your world of stories…. Where you can find your favourite tales being told in print, audio and digital!


We continue to support reading for pleasure and learning through entertainment with passion because we realise that this is the most powerful tool for change. Our company has expanded over the years, and we have a wonderful team that works together to bring Storytime to you all every month. Every new issue is celebrated like it was the first, and we never forget that it is a great privilege to tell amazing stories!


We feel that it is vitally important for young readers to read stories and keep on dreaming of better tomorrows– and our mission now feels more relevant than ever. We shall continue to create tales that we hope will inspire you to change the world!


Of course, our own story wouldn’t be completed without highlighting the wonderful artists that helped to bring the brilliant anniversary issue to life. So join us in celebrating them all! The magical cover is the work of Aga Mazsota, and she managed to bring the South American landscape to life in the Brazilian fairy tale The Quest for Cleverness.


We are in awe by how Ann-Sophie D’Hollander turned a tale of snails into a colourful garden of wonders in The Happy Family.


Elena Geroldi’s masterful art transported us to the Asian jungle, and her pencils rendered The Nodding Tiger in gentle strokes reminiscent of traditional Chinese art. We love to see stories through the artists’ eyes, as they often add another dimension to stories!  A similar delicate touch was used by Lily Fan in her illustrations for the pirate tale of The Stolen Treasure, written by Ellie Williams. Lovely artwork like this has to be treasured!


We feature the real-life story of young Albert Einstein in The Compass of Life – it’s a must-read for all STEM lovers, and it’s inspiring to see how far curiosity and a thirst for knowledge can take you! Manuel Mal takes us into the world of the clever little boy with his wonderful illustrations…


This month’s bedtime story features a character from a classic book – Pollyanna, from the novel of the same name! Pollyanna’s Perfect Day is a cheerful story about making the best of things, illustrated by one of our long-time collaborators: the talented Laura Proietti!


Let’s hear it for dear old Mother Earth and the extraordinary artwork of Leti Depedri! When we decided to tell the Greek myth of Gaia the Earth Goddess, we weren’t sure how to represent her, but Leti depicted this larger-than-life character in amazing style!


This story also features our newest strand in Storytime: the ‘You Need to Know About…’ section! Every month from now on, we will bring you amazing facts and figures related to the subject of a tale. It can cover anything and everything… but we can promise that it will always be fun! We hope you enjoy learning about beautiful planet and are looking forward to finding out more fascinating facts in future!


Finally, Waldomiro Neto brings warmth and joy to the fable of The Mole and His Mother with his art! The story is a sweet reminder about how we should use all our senses to explore the world. Fables have many life lessons to teach, but this is one that we are particularly fond of… Feel the wind, smell the flowers, listen to the beautiful sounds of nature … and never forget that we are all very special in our own way!


For now, enjoy this very special anniversary issue, made with love by our team. We are very proud of being 9, and for the many thousands of readers we have inspired along the way! Hip Hip Hooray!


Long live stories!

The Science of Stories


What is the best thing about making Storytime? It is definitely sharing our favourite tales with our wonderful readers. (That’s you!)


We humans have been telling stories for many thousands of years – our ancestors were almost certainly doing this before the dawn of civilization. You might even call humans ‘the storytelling species’!


We love stories. You do too, we suspect! But have you thought about why stories are so engaging?


Scientists have been researching how our brains engage with stories and have made some fascinating discoveries! If you needed more reasons to read more stories, then these facts below might convince you for once and all that stories are the BEST way to teach and learn, having fun along the way.


1. Our brains are stimulated by stories!

Researchers can scan the brains of test subjects to see which parts activate when doing different activities. When people were given lists of facts, two parts of the brain lit up: the language processing and language comprehension centres.


But what happens when they read a story instead? Five sections of the brain lit up: the language processing and language comprehension centres, the motor cortex (the part of the brain that plans for and executes movement), the amygdala (which deals with emotions) and the visual cortex (which processes visual information).


This is because when we read a story we feel physically engaged with it (think of when you felt tense when reading a scary tale, for example), we also empathise with the characters and experience their emotions at second hand, and finally we can visualise the scenes and characters described in it.


This helps to explain why we find stories so engrossing – reading them stimulates large parts of our wonderful brains!


2. These experiences help us learn!

Because so many parts of our brains are activated when reading stories, we absorb and retain information from them more effectively than when we learn in other ways. But how much more effectively?


Twice as well? Ten times as well?


Research indicates that we actually retain information from stories up to twenty-two times better, compared to a basic listing of facts. When we read stories, our brains soak up information and make connections without even realising it and therefore it’s more likely they will stay with us for longer.


The Awesome Adventures tales in Storytime were created with this principle in mind. Rather than presenting dry facts about famous people, we chose to share cool stories from their lives that will hopefully captivate readers and connect them with the characters. It’s no coincidence that it is a very popular section where you can learn while having fun.


3. We develop relationships with characters and that makes us happier!

Have you ever felt a close bond with characters in a really involving story? Believe it or not, there is a scientific reason for that! When we read a story, our brain can release a chemical called oxytocin. This is a bonding hormone that causes us to care about the people in our lives.


Oxytocin can be responsible for making people feel as if they relate to fictional characters. When this happens, we feel more invested in stories and internalise what it is trying to communicate with us. The feel-good factor of stories is no coincidence, it also helps us to feel like we belong.


4. Stories are powerful because they combine entertainment and education

Reading stories is a fantastic form of entertainment, engaging many parts of our brains and connecting with our emotions. But this also makes them powerful tools for learning – when we are emotionally connected with what we are reading, we absorb information more effectively.


Think back to our ancient ancestors, trading tales around the campfire. They told stories to entertain and bond with other members of their group, but also to pass along knowledge and wisdom in a highly effective way. Through history there are many examples where stories were used to protect us from danger, to guide us through challenging times.


Stories unite us all, and that is the ultimate power. But having science to show us how much power makes us more determined than ever to keep sharing stories far and wide.


Here at Storytime, we like to think that we are continuing a tradition and also bringing it to new audiences. Stories provide entertainment, escapism and education… all at the same time. And the learnings we share through them won’t ever be forgotten.

Storytime Issue 108 Out Now!


A celebration of summer!

The arrival of the warm weather is always a reason to cheer up, and the latest issue of Storytime is full of tales that remind us of all the different ways we can make the most of this season! Find some shade or a nice place in the sun and sit down with issue 108 and enjoy reading for fun.


The eye-catching cover is by Hunor Fogarasi, comes from the fairy tale: The Sun Horse. This classic Hungarian story is set in a land that is shrouded in darkness, and the only light comes from the magical creature. But when the beast is stolen, a wise man and a young boy must go into the sunlit lands to find it. This story reminds us to make the most of the sunny days before the dark months return!



The First Coconut comes from the other side of the world – the islands of Samoa! It’s a wonderful story about a girl who befriends an eel and is given the gift of the world’s first coconut. Babi Wrobel’s vibrant tropical colours remind us to enjoy the special treats of summer while they last. What’s your favourite seasonal treat? Ours are juicy watermelon slices and delicious food grilled on the barbecue!



In summer, we have the chance to venture into the great outdoors and experience everything nature has to offer! That spirit of adventure can be found in The Princess of Red Barns, inspired by the childhood of Gertrude Bell. She would go on to become an explorer and cartographer and is one of the inspiring biographies in our popular Awesome Adventures section. The wonderful Aude Brisson illustrates her adventures in the gardens of her home, and we should follow her example while the weather is warm!


The Island of Flowers is the magical story of a fairy who blessed one of isles in the Azores with the most gorgeous blossoms. Cherish the vibrancy of the plants around us, because before too long the leaves will be falling as autumn approaches…Every season has its beauty, but Blu Pieraccioli used all the colours of the rainbow in her art and made this summer more beautiful.




After talking about plants, we can’t forget the animals! Ana Stretcu did a fantastic job of illustrating all of the creatures in Louis’s Zoo, a story inspired by real-life experiences. When his family moves to a new country, a little boy adopts many exotic pets not to be lonely and ends up running out of space. How many lovely animals can you spot running around in your local park?




Still on some animal wisdom, perhaps you are spending time with people from all ages and our fable The Wise Rat is all about listening to the elderly! They always have something to teach us, and their experience is really valuable in helping us to navigate through life! Perhaps ask someone from your family to read this story with you and share some good old stories they know too! The talented Anna Laera illustrated the story of Gigi the cat and Old Jerome the rat with mastery!


No summer is complete without pirates! This month’s bedtime story takes inspiration from a classic: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Joel Cockrell rendered the characters in a vibrant style that makes them fresh while staying true to Stevenson’s book. Ben Gunn’s Real Treasure is about what happens when the pirates get back to England and about the true treasures in life! This story should remind you to spend time with your friends and family this summer – it’s the perfect time to go on adventures and read stories together!


The heat is on in our latest myth: Sekhmet and the Eye of Ra comes from Ancient Egypt. The goddess Hathor unleashes the power of the sun on the ungrateful people of that land and almost destroys it! The art by Damian Zain is suitably epic in scope – you haven’t seen a story quite like this one before! You might need to catch your breath after this one but why not cool down with the awesome puzzles and activities we have this month? It’s bound to get you busy and inspired and keep you talking and reliving the stories all month long!


If you are going on a long car journey, you can always order an extra back issue bundle of Storytime magazine to keep the summer reading ticking on! We have more than 8 awesome stories and there is something for everyone here in the Storytime shop.


Ahoy, Me Hearties! Enjoy a summer of stories and adventures!