Homeschooling habits to keep all year round!


Over the past few months, many of us have suddenly been forced to take up the job of teacher for kids stuck at home! This has been quite a challenge – but are there lessons and habits that we can take from our home-schooling experience once the world’s schools reopen?

Here are some home-schooling tips that we should keep in mind when studying with the little ones at home, that even after lockdown, will help children to make the most of their study times.


1. Make a ‘study space’

Doing schoolwork in the same space every day will help kids to get into the right mindset. It should be quiet, with a comfortable place to sit, a surface for writing, good light for reading, and enough space for books and papers.

There may not be enough space in your home for a permanent study area, but you can mark a place as a temporary ‘quiet study area’ by putting something like a houseplant there. When in the study zone, it’s time for study!


2. Keep to a schedule

Keeping regular hours in lockdown is difficult for everyone, especially kids! However, that makes it even more essential to draw up a time plan for schooldays and stick to it.

It doesn’t have to stick to regular school hours, but should give enough time for all work to be done. And as part of that schedule, you will need to…


3. Take regular breaks

Studying non-stop for an hour or more is not the best for learning! Remember to put breaks in your schedule – these actually enhance concentration and could include going for short, brisk walks, doing some PE exercises, or even walking the dog. TV does NOT work as a useful break, however!


4. Quality time

Parents often need to help kids, either with home-schooling or regular homework. However, you need to balance your children’s needs with the fact that you have responsibilities of your own!

It is best to schedule times when you will give the kids your undivided attention. While doing their work, get them to note down things that they want to ask you about before moving on, so they can ask you about them during the scheduled ‘quality time’.


5. Keep it flexible

One of the advantages of home-schooling is that children can do their own research about things they have learned that interest them. Why not schedule 45 minutes of ‘free study’ at the end of the day?

At the beginning of this time, ask your child what they would like to find out more about, and then let them do some research on the internet. Then, at the end of this period, ask them for three interesting facts they found out


6. Reward effort

Though they might deny it, kids want your approval. We might want our kids to achieve things, but it is more important to reward effort. After all, if we teach perseverance, then they will be able to stick with tasks until they can achieve them. So pay attention to when they are putting in a lot of work, and be sure to congratulate (and sometimes even reward!) them for this.


7. Remember, you’re not alone!

Helping your kids study can be hard work! Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help on questions or just to talk about your experiences. Social media is a great way to talk to other parents, and even after lockdown you can still get in touch over social media.

There are also educational resources available that could be used for fill-in lessons and help you with ideas if you few stuck. BBC Bitesize and our own Storytime Teaching resources packs are both fun and educational!

Storytime Issue 71 Out Now!


John Lennon once told us that “”Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – and I’m sure we can all identify with that at the moment. Even six months ago, I don’t think any of us would have thought our summer would be quite like this!

Unpredictability is a big part of life – and a big part of stories! If this month has a theme, it’s that we should expect the unexpected!


Storytime Issue 71 – Expect the Unexpected!

The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is a retelling of a classic short story by the wonderful Mark Twain. Burly lumberjack Big Jim Smiley loves the unexpected because it gives him something to bet on – but his plot to win money with his trained frog goes wrong when the trickster gets tricked by a stranger! Aleksey Zhdanov captures the humorous spirit of the tale in his illustrations.

Real life can be even stranger than fiction, as The High Life, this month’s Tale from Today, shows. It’s based on the true story of a fox named Romeo who made a home for himself in London’s tallest skyscraper while it was under construction – and managed to avoid capture for quite a while! Illustrator Zhanna Bulankova adds a real sense of wonder to this quirky tale.

Find out how pan pipes got their name in our Greek myth this month

We all have great potential within ourselves that can surprise those who would underestimate us, and that is a theme that runs through The Story of Pan, this month’s classic myth. Who would have thought that a goat-legged being who was so ugly that his own mother ran away from him would become so beloved of the Greek gods. Pan’s adventures feature magical art by the redoubtable Miss Paty.

In The Wise Little Girl, the Tsar of Russia himself makes a mistake by underestimating the wit and wisdom of a simple peasant girl. This clever and funny story will certainly think twice about smugly thinking you are better than someone else! Emanuela di Donna’s art really brings medieval Russia to life.

The Dragon’s Tail is a story of action and adventure set in a real place – the Dragon’s Gorge in Germany. When Helmut and his friends go exploring the gorge in search of the mythical monster that is meant to lurk there, but they in out that he is not what they expected! The rollicking action (and the awe-inspiring dragon!) are captured masterfully in the art by Alejandro Mesa.

This month’s Storyland Adventure, Moon River Melody is illustrated as always by the wonderful Giorgia Broseghini. This tale takes us below the water as the Pied Piper and a new friend find something large and unexpected lurking in the depths.

Beppo Pipetta’s magic bag can swallow up anyone who disagrees with him!

When it comes to embracing the unexpected, the titular hero of Beppo Pipetta is the master! This Italian folk hero and trickster is happy to ramble through life without worrying about anything – and this is made easier by his magic knapsack, which can swallow anyone who disagrees with him. But what will happen when he loses his enchanted bag? Find out in this quirky story, with art by Francesco Zito.

Sometimes in life though, we expect the unexpected. This month’s poem, The People Upstairs (by Ogden Nash, with great art by Susanna Rumiz) is about noisy neighbours. We can expect them to be noisy – but we can never be sure what form the next commotion will take!

We hope you enjoy this month’s magazine, with all its plot twists and unexpected events. Dealing with the unexpected can be intense, but change is a part of life, and can make things better. Can you think of totally unexpected events in your life that transformed it for the better? If so, tell us in the comments below.

Stories Make Us Human

Diversity makes our lives richer

What makes us human? That is a big question with no easy answer – but one of the things that make us human are STORIES. They let us know about other experiences, what other people think, and what they feel. By sharing stories, we become better people and realise that we have so much in common with each other.

Storytime was created to share our love of stories. Some are new, some are old. Some are from our homes, and some are from far-flung corners of the world – and they have heroes of many cultures and creeds. These heroes all have different experiences, but the quality that makes them heroes is universal: they believe that we are all human, that we are all worthwhile, and take a stand against injustice.

Here at Storytime, we believe that it is not where we are from or the culture we are raised in that matters – but the content of our hearts.

One of the most-loved sections of our monthly magazine is ‘Around the World Tales’. It is a chance to travel around the globe in our heads and find tales we’d never come across before – but no matter how far the stories come from, we always find something we can relate to in every one of them!

Our recent issues have included tales about an exiled Vietnamese prince who becomes a watermelon farmer, a lonely lady from Tanzania whose life is transformed by magical calabash-children, and a war between the mightiest volcanoes of New Zealand!

Each of these stories tells us something unique and special about their cultures, but are also about universal things that we all identify with… whether it’s the value of hard work in the face of adversity (‘The Watermelon Prince’), the importance of family (‘The Calabash Kids’), or the conflicts that can come from love (‘The Battle of the Mountains’).

We believe diversity is a fact of life and makes all of our lives richer. We hope that our readers will love the heroes of our stories for their courage, for their intelligence, and for their sense of humour – not their shape, size, or colour, and realise that heroes can come from any culture and from all corners of this world.

Ultimately, what stories and Storytime is about is sharing our tales and recognising our shared humanity – and we hope to do so for many years to come!

Storytime Issue 70 Out Now!


The latest issue of Storytime is super-special! It features three superheroes, created by our readers. Austin Hunt came up with the many-armed alien Zebly Titan, Ojas Prabhu created Supercorn Bob, and Emma Bowler was behind the amazing Froglleta!

We had planned to do a story featuring one winning creation, but Storytime readers are incredibly creative and came up with hundreds of amazing entries. In the end we couldn’t pick just one and chose our three favourites instead!

As this issue features superheroes, it made us think about the question: what makes a hero?
And how could we be heroes in our daily lives?

Storytime Issue 70 – We Could Be Heroes!

Our cover story, Zebly Titan and the Mystery of GLOP! is a story about heroes, each of whom have their own special powers. So is it powers that make someone a hero? This might seem like a simple question, but most heroes face supervillains who also have powers and are definitely not heroic! No, the thing that makes someone a hero is how they behave in difficult circumstances!

When Zebly Titan , Supercorn Bob and Froglleta are faced with a mysterious alien who accidentally pollutes their hometown, they manage to save the day by thinking things through, talking with other people – and baking some nice healthy snacks to share! We might not have super powers, but we can follow the example of the alien and his friends to be heroes in our day-to-day lives. The art by Gaby Zermeño really brings these characters to life!

Native American hero, Redhorn, uses his quick wits to win the Great Race in our new issue

Redhorn and the Great Race is a fun story about one of the favourite heroes of the Sioux people of North America. At the beginning of the story, the hero is not big or strong or famous – in fact, he is not called Redhorn at all, but has the embarrassing nickname ‘He-who-had-deer-lungs-thrown-at-him’! But the hero uses cleverness (and his magic!) to foil the turtle-spirit who cheats in the race. The plucky hero then uses his powers to shape and colour his hair into a new pointy style and chooses a new name: Redhorn. We could see Redhorn is a hero because he values fair play, uses his wits to solve problems, and makes his own decisions. Perhaps we all have something to learn from him? Illustrations by Hugo Cuellar add some extra magic to the tale!

The Birthday of the Fairy Queen is an Irish tale about a girl named Nora who gets invited to a very special party. Nora is a good person, but she doesn’t really act like a hero. However, when she goes to the Fairy Queen’s party, the ruler is honouring fairies who have done great things. Some of these are brave fairy-knights, but most are hard-working old gnomes that fix roads, take care of nature, and help others. This story reminds us that in real life, there are many heroes who don’t get medals, but whose hard work makes life better for all of us – and it is important to remember them! The art by Pete Olczyk welcomes us into the hidden fairy world…

The Mermaid and the Boy is the fairy tale in this issue and tell us the story of a young prince who wins the heart of a princess but is kidnapped by the evil Mermaid Queen. The prince is a classic fairy-tale hero, but to escape from his underwater prison, he needs help from his lady love, who plays her violin to guide him home. Like the prince, we all need help from others, no matter how heroic you try to be! Watch out for the luminous art by Rita Del Sorbo.

The Calabash Kids tells a tale of fruits that transform into children to help a lonely Tanzanian widow with her work on the farm. These hard-working and cheerful children transform her life – even the largest one, who is not good at working but cheers up everyone with his happy smile. The Calabash Kids become heroes by working to help others, which is something we can all aspire to. Monika Suska’s pictures bring the calabash kids to life, in more ways than one!

These quarrelsome friends learn some lessons about forgiveness in this month’s fable

The Jackal and the Camel is a fable of two characters who are definitely not heroic. In fact, they work together to eat a farmer’s crops and chickens! However, when the jackal thoughtlessly howls after eating, this leads to the farmer catching and punishing the camel… The camel then decides to show the jackal how selfish he was by threatening to dunk him in the river! However, the jackal admits that he was wrong, and the camel forgives him. We too can be heroes in our friendships – by admitting when we are wrong and forgiving our friends when they make mistakes! The art for this story is by the talented Santi Salas.

In our latest Storyland tale, Old MacDonald Had a Farmer’s Market, Henny Penny is worried that the townsfolk will run out of food when Old MacDonald goes on holiday. However, when the town works together to start a market and sell what they make, they discover that we can accomplish heroic things when we work together! As usual, the wonderful Giorgia Broseghini captures the characters perfectly in her illustrations.

We often think of heroes as people who show off while doing great things (in movies or in real life), but sometimes someone can be a hero just by being quiet! This month’s poem, The Secret, is about how you can be a hero by keeping quiet… but we’ve revealed too much already. What we can say is that the art by Eleonora de Pieri is just lovely!

What do you think makes a hero, and who are the heroes in your life? Tell us in the comments.

Talking About Emotions

Five stories for talking about emotions!

In a previous blog, we discussed how stories and imagination can provide much-needed escapism in during difficult times. However, stories offer far more than just a distraction – they are an excellent starting point for talking about and dealing with emotions.

Schools teach Physical, Social, and Health Education as part of the curriculum. This includes lessons about keeping healthy and safe, relating to others – and managing our emotional state. Discussing the stories your children read is an excellent way of building PSHE skills – and as current events have proved, being mindful about one’s emotions is vital!

After reading a story with your child, why not ask them what different characters might have been feeling at different points in the story, and why. How they would feel in similar situations, and what they would do? Here are some of the stories featured in Storytime that are particularly appropriate:

Hansel and Gretel

Grimm’s fairy tales often feature children in scary situations, and Hansel and Gretel (which featured in Storytime issue 13) is a classic example. It has fantastical elements (including a witch and a magical gingerbread house) but it also deals with fears that all children deal with, particularly fear of abandonment. It also provides an opportunity to discuss another important issue: being aware of stranger danger.

Tom Thumb

The story of Tom Thumb (told in Storytime issue 35) is one that all kids could identify with. Just like Tom, they live in a world that is too big for them, a world that they do not understand and is full of potential dangers. Tom deals with feelings of fright, abandonment, and not being in control, which would be familiar to all kids. We suggest reading this story with your child and asking them about the bits they really identified with. The story also teaches another lesson: children can learn to deal with the world on their own terms, just like the story’s minuscule hero!

Jack Makes the Princess Laugh

Jack Makes the Princess Laugh (Storytime issue 59) is about a boy who trades the family cow for a magic harp and some performing animals – but we would like to talk about the princess that he wins the heart of! She hadn’t laughed for seven years, and it took a performance by Jack and his animal as well as a bit of dancing magic from his harp to make her laugh three times!

Being sad, grouchy or depressed like the princess is a part of our life, but identifying when we or others are sad and finding ways to get them out of it is vital. We may not have dancing animals or a magic harp like Jack does, but we can use laughter and music to feel better. A favourite comedy show or putting on music and having a good old dance is an excellent cure – and they work even better if you share the experience with someone else!

The Secret Garden

Classic children’s novels are classic for a reason – because they have connected with generations of kids! One that might be especially relevant at the moment is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. (We liked it so much, we introduced the first chapter in Storytime issue 10.)

It’s the story of young Mary Lennox who is kept in isolation following an epidemic. She feels lonely, sad, and unwanted by a friendship with the gardener and two young boys. Though it was written a century ago, this story has a lot that children of today might identify with and want to talk about! Mary learns to become a better and kinder person by relating to other people, and that applies as much today as it did then.

Moving Day

For a more recent (and futuristic!) example of a story that might be used to discuss emotions is Moving Day, a story from our latest issue! It’s about a boy named Isaac, who is forced to leave his friends behind when he and his parents go to help colonize Mars. He has to deal with loneliness and boredom on the flight, but after arriving on Mars he makes a new friend in a very unexpected way.

This story is about a very common situation that many children have faced (moving to a new town or country), but its sci-fi setting gives it a fun new twist. After reading the story, why not ask your children about Isaac’s emotions, and whether they can identify with them.

Can you think of any fictional stories that helped you to think about emotions or deal with problems you faced? If so, tell us in the comments!

Storytime Issue 69 Out Now!


May of us will be faced with new problems at the moment. Of course, life is all about facing and overcoming our difficulties. The great thing about stories is that they give us new ways to look at the problems we face – and ways of dealing with them!

It just so happens that this month’s issue is packed with stories that we can learn from…


Storytime Issue 69 – Help can come from unexpected places!

The War of the Fox and the Wolf is about characters who are facing very different problems. An elderly dog and cat flee their home because their master wants to get rid of them, and a fox has to deal with a mean wolf and his bullying friends. However, when the dog, cat, and fox meet, they come up with a cunning plan. I won’t spoil the ending, but star artist Roger Simó captures all the fun brilliantly!

This Vietnamese prince learns the benefit of hard work in the Watermelon Man

The Watermelon Man is a rather special tale, all the way from Vietnam. Artist Wazza Pink takes us all the way back to the time of ancient kings, when an exiled prince learns how to survive and prosper with the help of a lot of hard work – and some strange black seeds! Perhaps we all need to plant seeds now and work at helping them grow to create a better future?

Moving to a new house is challenge that most of us face at one time or another. In Moving Day, Dilara Karakaş illustrates the story of a boy named Isaac, who has to leave his home and move far away when his parents get new jobs. This story takes a few interesting twists and turns, but Isaac soon discovers that being friendly to everyone you meet is a great way to make a new place feel less lonely.

The poem Who Ate My Socks? looks at a problem that we have all had at one time or another – why does one sock in a pair always go missing? The hero of this tale finds the surprising answer with some diligent investigation, and that is often a good way to find answers to any questions or problems you might have! Check out Carolina Grosa’s lovely artwork which perfectly matches this fun rhyme.

Icelandic princess Ingibjorg (don’t worry, we tell you how to pronounce it in the magazine!) finds herself stranded in the woods when an evil giant steals her feet! Help comes from her childhood beloved pet. While we may not always be able to rely on cats with magical powers to help us in our hour of need, Kisa The Cat does show us how help can sometimes come from the most unexpected places – friends, neighbours, or people you might have known in the past! Sarah-Lisa Hleb brings her unique magic to this fairy tale about a very special friendship.

This poor fly ends up in a sticky situation in our fable – will he escape?

Jing Jing Jia provides the art for this month’s fable, The Fly and the Moth. In this tale, a moth decides not to help a fly in trouble – but gets laughed at in turn when she makes a foolish decision and gets burned! All things being equal, it is best to help people if you can, because you never know when you might need help in return! What is the phrase people use? Pay it forward!.

In the latest episode from Storyland, a visitor get stick in the woods, and the townsfolk get together to help him out. As always, Giorgia Broseghini sprinkles some of her magic dust on the artwork! This tale shows us that it is easier to overcome our problems if we work with others and that a little creativity goes a long way!

Masishasura and Durga is an epic tale from India! The king Masishasura asks the gods for supernatural powers, but when he tries to use them to conquer the world, the gods create a fierce female goddess to defeat him! Do not misuse things others have given you – or you might get in trouble! Bhumika Jangid captures all the excitement with her colourful illustrations.

Of course, the Storytime Playbox is packed with activities, including a maze, an art project, a tasty recipe, and a fun game in which players compete to find a pirate treasure!

What stories have helped you to overcome problems or difficult times? Tell us in the comments!

Storytime Issue 68 Out Now!


Many of us will no doubt be feeling a certain desire to change our current situation at the moment – and this happens to be a theme that runs through the tales featured in the latest issue of Storytime!


Storytime Issue 68 – I want to break free!

Sometimes it’s animals that want to run wild, and that’s just what happens in The Llama Pyjama Drama. Aided and abetted by a mischievous girl named Maya, a llama named Alan leads a mass breakout that culminates in a mob of llamas knotted in nightclothes – an unlikely situation rendered with artistic flair by Helga Lukas.

Anders has the best hat is the whole wide world – trouble is, everybody else wants it too

Anders’ Red Hat is about a boy whose mother makes him the very best hat in the world, which is so fabulous that it secures him to an invitation to a princess’s tea party at the royal palace. However, it soon becomes clear that everyone – including the princess and the king – have designs on his magnificent chapeau and he must get out! Federica Tanania captures the manic action (and amazing hat) in grand style.

A jackal gets accidentally dyed sky-blue, and discovers a way to get out of the drudgery of scavenging for food by masquerading as a holy being. When the dye comes out in the wash, though, he must escape the vengeance of the animals he has tricked. Sebastian Baculea does a great job rendering the colourful tale of The Blue Jackal!

The story of Kintu and Nambi is something really special – a Ugandan creation myth with fab artwork by the very creative Thiago Amormino. When a goddess falls in love with a mortal man, she leaves heaven to be with him – but the couple must escape the attentions of her brother, the god of disease!

Robert Louis Stevenson is famous as the author of the adventure novel Treasure Island, but not many people know that when he was young, he was often confined to bed by illness and would occupy his time fighting battles and building worlds on the bedspread with his toys. The Land of Counterpane was a poem he wrote about escaping from his sickbed though the power of imagination, and illustrator Ramona Bruno captures it perfectly.

These four tuneful animals thwart a gang of robbers in The Musicians of Bremen.

When four elderly farm animals realise they are no longer useful on the farm, they decide to escape this predicament by going to Bremen and embarking on a career in the music business. An encounter with some superstitious robbers leads to them putting their talents to a better use – and becoming heroes into the bargain! Artist Marine Cazaux breathes new life into the classic tale of The Musicians of Bremen.

The lead character in the ancient tale of Rhodopis the Egyptian Cinderella has more reason to want to break free than most, for she is a slave to a family that ruthlessly exploit her skill at sewing by making her work to all hours. However, her needlework (and a hawk) soon lead to a change in circumstances. Fatima Anaya ably captures the magic of a time long past in her illustrations.

One thing that’s really difficult to escape, it is the pull of gravity. However, that doesn’t stop Storyland residents the Three Little Pigs from trying to do so by scoffing loads of enchanted treats made by Sugar Plum and grazing on magic cloudmallows, they soon discover that flying is no fun for pigs. Sugar Plum’s Sweet Shop features art by the very talented Giorgia Broseghini.

We hope you enjoy escaping with our many adventures in the latest issue. Stay safe and well, from everyone at Storytime!

Worlds of Wonder


Recent events have definitely changed our reality. Travel – or even going out of the house for more than essentials – is no longer an option for many of us.

However, there is still a way for us to escape our homes and explore wonderful new places. Stories have always transported us to magical new worlds, and at this time we need them more than ever.

We can also share our journeys by reading to each other, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, video chat is available to most of us on all kinds of devices. Let’s make those journeys together with our kids, grandparents, parents, godparents, aunties and uncles, anyone your love – use this moment to share stories, visit these magical places, and dream of limitless possibilities.

Here are just a few of our favourite worlds to journey to through the magic of books. You can read the first chapters of many of these tales in Storytime – available through our shop: (We have added notes about which issues the stories can be found in after each entry.) Affordable editions of these books can also be found online, in print or ebook format.

Arthurian Britain

The stories of King Arthur and his knights transport us back to mythical Britain, where brave warriors must go on quests that test their strength, their faith, and their honour. These stories at the foundation of British culture – and have excited and enchanted readers for centuries. The stories have been retold many times, but TH White’s The Once and Future King is a clever retelling that captures the spirit of the originals while keeping things fun and engaging for a modern audience.
(You can read about the Lady of the Lake in Storytime issue 28 and Launcelot’s battle with Sir Turquine in issue 67)


Discworld is a flat world on top of four giant elephants that stand on the shell of a giant cosmic turtle that swims through space, and as you might expect, it is home to many fantastic creatures. Sir Terry Pratchett wrote 41(!) novels set in this world. They are among the funniest books ever written, and despite taking place on such a wacky place, they have some wise things to say about us human beings and the way we live. The best books for younger readers are the Tiffany Aching novels, about a determined young shepherdess who becomes a witch.


The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is about a lonely young boy who discovers a magical book and learns that he has the power to save Fantastica, a land where all stories are real. However, saving the world is only half the battle! After he saves this magic land, Bastian becomes its ruler and can create anything he can imagine – but risks losing himself in the process! One of the most imaginative books ever written, this story does actually come to an end –but people who read it will still be thinking about it for years to come!

The Land of Oz

Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz took readers down the Yellow Brick Road and introduced us to a world of witches, bizarre beings and quirky heroes unlike any we had ever seen before. He wrote many more novels set in Oz, and the first volume was, of course, turned into a classic movie. (Storytime issue 2)

Middle Earth

JRR Tolkien lovingly created perhaps the most detailed and beautiful world in all of fiction over many decades, and it is a great place to visit! The Lord of the Rings is of course the greatest fantasy epic of them all, but The Hobbit is the best introduction to his creation. Forget about the films – let Professor Tolkien enchant you with his tale of dragons, battles, and the finding of a very special ring.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most famous of CS Lewis’s books, but he wrote seven stories set in his magic land. These books allow you to tag along with schoolchildren who find themselves transported to a magical world where animals can talk, mythical creatures are real, and a lion named Aslan helps to defend a magic kingdom from evil.
(Storytime issue 13)

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of pirates and plunder on a desert island has thrilled many generations of readers with its tales of derring-do. Tag along with the plucky Jim Hawkins and the roguish Long John Silver as they set out on a voyage into the unknown. Not one to be missed!
(Storytime issue 7)

The Snow Queen’s Palace

Far in the north of Lapland lies a magical frozen castle that is home to the legendary Snow Queen! This classic story by Hans Christian Andersen tells the tale of the pure-hearted Gerda travels to the Snow Queen’s domain to free her friend Kai and encounters many icy dangers and frozen wonders on the way!

Villa Villekulla

This is the house where the heroine of the Pippi Longstocking books lives, and it is a wonderful place to visit. Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi is a very strong, very cheerful, and very determined girl who lives life her own way and doesn’t care what anybody thinks. Her house contains a pet monkey, a stash of gold coins, and fiery-haired Pippi herself. Perhaps she will tell you tales of her father the pirate king, or take you on a wild adventure in the woods? (Storytime Issue 26)


Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are set in a world of endless surprises and playfully illogical characters. Follow the White Rabbit down that hole and leave reality and logic behind as our heroine gets lost in a bizarre new land inhabited by strange beings that love wacky wordplay. (Storytime issue 1)

That is our list of the ten best fictional worlds to escape into. If you read any of these books, please let us know what you and your children thought about them!

What are your favourite books to escape into? Share in a comment – we would love to hear from you!

Storytime Issue 67 Out Now!


In this day and age many of us are concerned about how we look– whether we like to admit it or not! Many of the stories in this month’s issue are about how appearances can matter – but also how we shouldn’t necessarily judge a book by its cover! Why not use these stories as a starting point for taking with your child about how appearances can be important, but can also be misleading?


Storytime Issue 67 – Should we judge a book by its cover?

‘Not everything is as it seems’ is a theme in dozens of fairy tales, and The Incredible Crow, with spellbinding illustrations by Benedetta Capriotti is a great example. When three sisters meet a talking crow, the eldest two look down on the disreputable-looking bird, while the youngest sees something special in him. Of course, the youngest is proved right in the end, though I won’t tell you quite how!

However, there is a twist in the tale: along the way, the youngest sister has to look for work in the city while dressed in rags. At first she is looked down on but when she gets given fancy new clothes, she discovers that this gets her unwelcome attention of a different sort! Why not read this story and have a discussion about the good and bad sides of dressing up OR dressing down?

Mulan charges into battle to protect her country from invaders in this month’s Storytime

Our cover star of course is Mulan (with epic art by Hana Augustine). This legendary Chinese heroine wanted to protect her family and her country by going to war against invaders but was not permitted to because she was a girl. Her solution? Cut her long hair and putting on her father’s armour!

This story could be an interesting starting point for talking about how we judge people based on their gender or appearance. Why did people assume that Mulan could not be a good warrior because she was a girl, and what was their reaction when they found out that the hero of the war, with the skill and intelligence to help save her country, was female?

The Ape King is a fable about a boastful monkey monarch who orders his subjects put on a grand show to impress visitors to his jungle kingdom – only for one of them to see right through him. With this fun tale (with tropical art by Alessandro Passoli) maybe you could discuss what the Ape King could have done to get the genuine respect of his subjects, rather than just ordering them to bow to him as part of a show?

Everybody likes to choose how they groom themselves – whether they go for style or comfort! But sometimes the style we choose can have serious effects, as Daddy Bear discovers in Daddy Bear’s Hair (with art from the wonderful Giorgia Broseghini). After he wakes up from winter hibernation, he decides to keep his new shaggy coat, even though it frightens his family. Unfortunately, his overlong hair proves too hot and heavy for everyday wear, no matter how he tries to style it!

This story has a lesson for those who stubbornly choose to stick with their fashion choices despite any drawbacks – can you think of anybody like that in your family?

Sir Lancelot’s Quest features the greatest knight of King Arthur’s court going up against a very menacing knight in dark and dented armour. But is this knight actually the ruffian he appears to be? In this case he actually is – showing that sometimes things can be just as they appear! The art by Alejandra Londoño is a particular standout, showing heroes of legend in a fun and funky fashion that would not be out of place in certain popular mobile-phone strategy games!

Edith’s invention get’s the party started! But what is it? Find out in this month’s Storytime

This issue also has a range of other wonderful stories as well – Edith the Inventor (by the inestimable Helly Douglas, art by Sian Roberts) features a plucky young girl using her creative powers to save a science show. Along the way she has to overcome technical problems and self-doubt, but we can all take inspiration from the can-do attitude she uses to deal with them!

The poem The Clothes Line (by Charlotte Druitt Cole, illustrated by Andrea Galecio) makes laundry day fun. How many stories can you think of where a handkerchief is the hero?

Last but certainly not least we have The Singing Seamstress (art by Lenny Wenn). Like it or not, money is a constant concern in the modern world, but when the heroine of this story is given a sudden windfall by a miser, she discovers that cash can also be a curse. A thought-provoking tale to be sure!

And of course, our Playbox is filled to bursting with new activities – including a tricky tactics game where you get to play as Mulan!

We hope you enjoy this latest issue – and hopefully you will agree that this is one magazine that you can judge by its (rather lovely) cover!

More Than Just Words and Pictures

storytime_kids_magazine_blog picture books words and


What is an illustrated children’s story? Is it just text with pictures that provide visual interest and encourage readers to continue with the text? Here at Storytime we certainly don’t think of it that way. We see illustrations as bringing new depth and ideas to a story.

It’s a bit like a classic Beatles song: the writer and editor laying down the basic structure – like John Lennon playing the basic chords and singing the lead vocals. The artist and designer then come in like Paul McCartney and George Harrison, playing solos and countermelodies that weave in and out of the main tune while accentuating John’s singing with those irreplaceable ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’. It’s that interaction which adds the magic.

Visual Storytelling

This idea is explored in Children’s Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling (2nd edition) by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles (Laurence King Publishing).

This lushly illustrated volume takes an in-depth look at the history of the picture-book, from early woodblock prints to the lush four-colour printing of the present. However, this is more than just a (colourful) history book.

It discusses the way in which picture books use words and pictures to play off against each other. Here at Storytime, we work closely with a large and ever-growing pool of talented international artists who all contribute their own unique visions to the magazine. That’s one of the things that makes working on this magazine such fun – something new and visually stunning arrives in our inboxes almost every day!

Of course, there are some talented people out there who have mastery of both the text and image. Oliver Jeffers, author/illustrator of The Heart and the Bottle among many other classics, puts it this way: ‘I don’t call myself a picture book writer or illustrator. I use the term “picturebook maker”. When writer and illustrator are different people I suppose texts are given to the artist in a fully formed state. But I do both and the two will evolve together.” (We reviewed Jeff’s recent book The Crayons’ Christmas in Issue 64!

Nowadays kids live in a world of ‘on-demand’ TV and social media. Does this make old-fashioned printed children’s stories irrelevant? Not at all!

Visual Literacy

We believe that illustrated books are great at teaching kids ‘visual literacy’ – how to interpret images, and how words and pictures interact. In this increasingly visual multimedia age, text is only one method of presenting information. It is often combined with images, infographics, word clouds, and other graphical elements, and reading storybooks in which text and images tell interweaving stories is not only fun, it helps children learn how to interpret visual information.

An example is given where children read and discuss a scene in Lauren Child’s classic Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? where a character is reading a book with herself on the cover – which is the book that the children themselves are reading! This leads to the children coming up with insightful ideas about what it means if a character is inside a book that the character herself is reading – the sort of sophisticated thinking that is becoming essential in this age of information overload!

When reading Storytime with your children, consider discussing the details of what is going on in the illustrations as well as what is going on in the text – this helps them to explore the possibilities that lie outside of the story itself.

Of course, we in the Storytime team are big fans of modern interactive technology and provide additional material and activities that can be found online and printed out. (Go to to check out our downloadable content.)

But in the end, no online material can truly replace a lovingly crafted printed product – whether a book or a magazine (like Storytime!) No child can fall asleep hugging their favourite YouTube video channel, but they can do so with a beloved book or magazine! They can be held, cherished, and kept and passed on – loved objects in a time where almost everything is ‘disposable’. We hope that your child’s issues of Storytime are similarly loved, whether they are carefully shelved or scattered across the floor!