Smart, Brave and Strong Fictional Role Models

fictional role models

Robin Hood – a smart, brave and strong fictional role model in Storytime Issue 57. Art by Mathieu Strale.

What kind of fictional role models do kids look for in stories? And do their parents look for the same thing? A recent survey by Scholastic (Our Diverse World) found that a huge amount of kids (36%) want to read about characters they want to be like because they are smart, brave or strong. Characters that face and overcome challenges came in a close second at 30%.

Fictional characters that are smart, brave or strong were even more popular with parents. 50% of those questioned wanted more characters like this in stories. Meanwhile, 47% desired characters that face and overcome a challenge.

So kids and parents are looking for the same fictional role models. They want characters that are tested and come out on top thanks to their own intelligence, courage and strength (inner or outer).

It sounds like our kind of stories. However, the truly exciting finding is that fiction like this isn’t just fun to read in the moment – the effect of reading about inspirational fictional characters is lasting. In the survey, 40% of children revealed they have learned a lesson from a fictional character. Incidentally, this is something we’ve known for a long time from talking to our readers.

So you could say that reading about inspirational, confident, problem-solving kids breeds a generation of… inspirational, confident, problem-solving kids. At the risk of sounding like a self-help manual, it turns out you can read yourself smart, brave and strong. That’s the undisputable power of stories!


Read Yourself Smart, Brave and Strong

With that in mind, we’ve selected some of our favourite Storytime stories with smart, brave or strong characters. These are the kind of fictional role models that can help you inspire your kids!



  1. There are a large number of fairy tales and stories from all over the world in which an underdog uses intelligence to outwit a baddie. Three Little Pigs (Storytime Issue 6) and Hansel and Gretel (Storytime Issue 13) are both classic examples. From further afield, the African tale How the Jackal Fooled the Lion (Storytime Issue 18), Wolf Lullaby (Storytime Issue 25) from the Caribbean and Romania’s Stan and the Dragon (Storytime Issue 55) all feature savvy characters overcoming the impossible.
  2. Being smart isn’t just about beating bad guys – it can improve your life too. As the Indian rags-to-riches story The Mouse Merchant (Storytime Issue 8) demonstrates. Or, in Puss in Boots (Storytime issue 18), a cat’s cunning transforms his owner from a pauper into a prince. Meanwhile, The Crow and the Pitcher (Storytime Issue 19) deploys its intelligence to save its own life.
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    Clever Amaradevi in Storytime Issue 44. Art by Lenny Wen.

  4. Then there are those clever characters who use their smarts to prove themselves and assert their place in the world. For example, in the Cambodian tale Clever Amaradevi (Storytime Issue 44), a princess proves her worth to her father with the help of some skilful engineering. In the Greek story, The Clever Queen, a queen does the same to her king. Finally, in Harry the Narwhal (Storytime Issue 48), Harry shows his bullying cousins just how quick-thinking and clever he is.



  1. Is there any better example of bravery (and kindness) than the classic fable The Lion and the Mouse (Storytime Issue 2)? There’s a reason this fable has endured – it speaks to children who have their own lions to face, and it brings hope.
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    Hero Momotaro the Peach Boy with art by Quang Phung Nguyen. Storytime Issue 26.

  3. Then there’s the straightforward brand of bravery – or is it bravado? In these tales a hero or heroine takes on and overcomes a monster. See giant-slaying Jack and the Beanstalk (Storytime Issue 5) and also Odysseus and the Cyclops (Storytime Issue 18). Plus there’s the unusual Japanese hero Momotaro the Peach Boy (Storytime Issue 26) and demon-battling Indian hero Rama in Rama and Sita (Storytime Issue 50). Oh, and look out for Little Billy Goat Brave in upcoming Storytime Issue 58. (And the original Billy Goats Gruff in Storyime Issue 10.)
  4. Let’s bring on the girls. Courageous and devoted friend Gerda saves her best friend in The Snow Queen (Storytime Issue 4). Molly Whuppie (Storytime Issue 54) whups a giant and the Ecuadorian heroine in The Magic Lake (Storytime Issue 55) saves a prince and her brothers after facing fierce animals.
  5. Lastly, we love the quietly, brilliantly brave character in Eszter Molnar’s story I Want to Be a Pencil Sharpener (Storytime Issue 35). She proves that not all acts of bravery involve wielding swords. Sometimes bravery is found in daring to be different.



    fictional role models

    Hercules slays the lion in Storytime Issue 24. Art by Ricardo Fernandez.

  1. Strong characters can sometimes feel a little one-dimensional. They need a good dose of bravery or a decent back story to make them interesting. Greek hero Hercules in Hercules and the Lion (Storytime Issue 24) has immense strength, but it’s what got him there that makes him engaging. Theseus was powerful enough to defeat the Minotaur, but it’s Princess Ariadne’s smarts that led him to success (Storytime Issue 12).
  2. Yes, St George and the Dragon (Storytime Issue 2) is a story of strength, but it’s also one of bravery and chivalry. Likewise Robin Hood, who has three appearances in Storytime (Issues 8, 38 and upcoming 58) is strong and skilled with a bow, but he’s also defiantly brave.
  3. In the Polynesian tale Maui Tames the Sun (Storytime Issue 48), Maui uses sheer force to stop the sun in its tracks. However, it’s bravery that got him there in the first place.
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    Nana Miriam has smarts, bravery and strength in Storytime Issue 34. Art by Bruno Liance

  5. For a great combination of wit, bravery and strength, you can’t beat Nana Miriam and the Hippo (Storytime Issue 34). She actually flings a hippo into space!
  6. And let’s not forget inner strength. Cap o’ Rushes (Storytime Issue 57) demonstrates mental fortitude when her father forces her out of her home and she is forced to become a servant. Cinderella (Storytime Issue 2) also shows great resilience when she is bullied. There are many more fairy tales with similar themes of staying positive and hopeful in the face of adversity. A true display of strength.


That’s just a small selection of great fictional role models featured in Storytime. There are many more smart, brave and strong characters in our issues and we always hope to inspire our readers. You can pick up any of the issues mentioned above in our Storytime Back Issue Shop.

What kind of character speaks to you most? Smart, brave or strong? Most importantly, what kind of characters do you want your child to be inspired by in Storytime? We’re always ready to take on board your feedback, so let us know on any of our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook or Instagram).

Until next time… be smart, brave and strong.

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Hello Storytime Issue 57!

Storytime Issue 57

If you could have one magical object, what would it be? This question inspired Storytime Issue 57’s cover story Benji’s Magic Boots, where the main character is attracted to a pair of ordinary-looking boots that can take him anywhere. Fans of fairy tales will know them as seven league boots – with each step you take, you travel seven leagues (about 5.5km). Benji, of course, has no idea what lies in store when he slips on the boots for the first time.

You can follow his adventure in Storytime Issue 57 and we hope you enjoy Michelle Ouellette’s glorious artwork.

There are lots more stories to enjoy, of course, so find out about them here.

Inside Storytime Issue 57


There’s always something exciting happening in Storyland. In Storytime Issue 57, this fairy-tale world’s residents get two surprise visitors from another fictional land. The unexpected guests have a problem and it’s up to Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and one of the three Little Pigs to help fix it. Giorgia Broseghini‘s illustrations – especially Rapunzel’s colourful plait – make us grin every time.

Storytime Issue 57, kids magazine subscriptions

Bouki the Hyena, an African story illustrated by Sid Mereiles.

Bouki the Hyena is a story from Africa, starring one of the continent’s best-known tricksters. You’ve probably worked out that we love trickster tales here at Storytime. This one is no exception – Sid Mereiles‘ animals are incredible.

Our fable, Mr Luck and Mrs Pluck, explores whether it’s better to be fortunate or fearless. What do you think? Find out our conclusion in the issue. Dilara Karakas‘s illustrations should make you smile.

The legendary hero Robin Hood returns to Storytime Issue 57. This time, you can discover how he met his best friend and sidekick Little John. It involves a fight! Mathieu Strale’s illustrations are heaps of fun. If you’re a teacher, you can also look forward to our free Robin Hood Teaching Resource Pack for school subscribers. Get it here. And don’t miss our Robin Hood game at the back of the issue too.

Our poem, The Transformation, offers you more great content for the classroom or home. It’s about the life cycle of a caterpillar and its change into a butterfly. A great companion to primary science lessons and Sara Ugolotti’s illustration should give you lots of inspiration for art classes.

As silly stories go, The Story With No End, is great. Rebels at heart, we can’t resist a tale where an ordinary Joe (or Joanne) outwits a mollycoddled king. Speaking of Jo, Joanna Klos helped us bring this unique story to life.

kids magazine subscriptions, Storytime Issue 57

Cap o’ Rushes – a fairy tale with Cinderella themes – in Storytime Issue 57. Art by Daniela Dogliani.

Finally, we’re delighted to welcome back illustrator Daniela Dogliani. She has illustrated the fairy tale Cap o’ Rushes. This beautiful story will delight Cinderella fans as it has some similar themes, but it’s far from being a copy. We’d love to know what you think about the ending.


All in all, it’s another packed issue.

So, where would you go if you had magic boots? We’d probably end up in a book shop. This one will do nicely.

If you haven’t subscribed in time to receive Storytime Issue 57, no problem, you can pick it up from our Back-Issue Shop. And if you’re thinking of subscribing, you can do so here. We’d love to have you join the Storytime family!

Hope you have some wonderful armchair adventures this month,

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Storytime Issue 56 Is Out!

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Spring has sprung and, with it, a spring in our step because Storytime Issue 56 is out! This issue stars an Easter cutie, Funny Bunny, and it’s packed with characters to suit every interest and taste! Read on…

Inside Storytime Issue 56

storytime issue 56

A fabulous fox and cockerel in Storytime Issue 56, by Jane Lukas.

We open the issue with the wonderful fable The Fox and the Cockerel, in which these two frequent rivals undertake a subtle battle of wits. It’s a great story made greater by Jane Lukas‘s truly stunning illustrations. What a way to open an issue!

In this issue’s new Storyland Adventure, we meet Beast who has a worrying mystery to solve – something is destroying the plants in Storyland, including the Wicked Witch’s herb garden. His wonderful bloom shop is also at risk unless he can track down the culprit quickly. As always, Giorgia Broseghini provides the art.

We’re delighted to bring you a beautifully illustrated version of Ducks’ Ditty – Ratty’s wonderful tune from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. It’s a fantastic and educational rhyme, and many thanks to Anna Gensler for the artwork. This poem also inspired our monthly Teaching Resource Pack, free to all school subscribers. Find out more about it here.

Storytime Issue 56

An image from the Hungarian folk tale, That’s Not True! Art by Jesús López.

Our Around the World Tale is a funny folk tale from Hungary, featuring a pig that lays eggs. Or does it? The title of the story, That’s Not True!, and gives you a clue about how the story unfolds. It’s a great read with a satisfying ending, only enhanced by Jesús López’s illustrations.

Action-lovers will enjoy our myth, Voyage to Easter Island, which tells how Polynesian adventurers braved a long and perilous journey to find a new home. It also explains the origin of Easter Island’s incredible statues. Felipe Rodriguez Rodriguez did an excellent job of the illustrations and gave us a hammerhead shark to remember.

Funny Bunny, with illustrations by Lucy Fleming, is Storytime Issue 56’s Tale from Today. It stars an Easter bunny who hates chocolate! Find out how she overcomes her fears to make sure all those eggs get delivered on time.

We love sharing lesser known fairy tales with you and One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes by the Brothers Grimm is certainly one of those. What’s interesting about this tale is how a sibling is persecuted for having two eyes and looking like “everyone else”. It’s a good starting point for talking about bullying and difference. Thanks to Katya Longhi for the illustrations.

Storytime Issue 56 closes with Miser and Merry – a tale of two farmers with very different attitudes to life and how they treat people. You can probably guess from their names how they are, but when a magical dwarf intervenes, one of them learns an important lesson. Dnepwu provided the illustrations for this classic folk tale.

Flick through Storytime Issue 56

Every month we make a quick video flick-through of the latest issue, so that anyone who’s interested in subscribing can get a feel for our great content. Have a look at Storytime Issue 56 here! This month, there’s a fantastic quiz and game in the back, as well as the usual puzzles, book recommendations and activities.

We hope you enjoy it. Let us know your faves by dropping us a line on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

See you soon!

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How To Be The World’s Best Parent

read to your child for 10 minutes every day, reading for pleasure, tips for reading to kids, Wow, that’s one heck of a promise, but what if we told you that being the world’s best parent isn’t just entirely possible and easily within your grasp, it takes less than 1% of your day? Even better, you can start working towards that coveted parenting crown as soon as you’ve finished reading this article.

So what exactly do you need to do? It’s simple. Just read to your child for 10 minutes every day. 15 minutes if you can. (20 minutes and you’ll win your place in a special heaven populated by all your favourite fictional characters, locations and foods and, occasionally, your favourite author will drop by and invite you for tea and cake.)

But let’s start with just 10 minutes. On paper, reading to your child for 10 minutes every day seems totally doable, doesn’t it? But if it were so easy, we’d all be doing it and reading charities all over the world wouldn’t be imploring us to read to our children more.

There’s overwhelming evidence now that reading to your children is one of the best things you can do for them educationally and on an emotional level. It’s an incredible time for bonding and we all know it! So what’s stopping us and how do we overcome the barriers that life puts in the way? We have some solutions for you.

4 barriers to reading to your kids… and how to knock them down

1. Tiredness

This is perhaps one of the most common reasons given for not reading to your child for 10 minutes every day. Either you or your child is too exhausted. All you want to do is collapse on the sofa and watch some telly or fall into bed. It’s understandable, but with a little attitude shift and some clever timing, you can make a positive difference.

Your solution: The saying goes that if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results. So stop promising yourself that you’ll read for 10 minutes every night and then feeling guilt-stricken when you’re too tired to see it through. Instead, commit to read for 10 minutes every day at a time when you’ve both got enough energy to enjoy it. That might be first thing in the morning, at lunch, before dinner, after dinner. There is no right time – keep changing it until you get it right. You’ll know when that is as you’ll be reading for pleasure and not as a chore – and your child will be rapt. Read more on finding time to read here.

2. Busyness

With so many demands on modern life, it’s hard not to fall into the busyness trap. But, as we mentioned in the intro, 10 minutes takes up less than 1% of your day. And that 10 minutes of reading has been proven to have such a positive impact on your child’s wellbeing and educational attainment, it’s absolutely worth making it a priority.

Your solution: Treat 10 minutes of reading to your child like you would any other daily task. Schedule it in and add it to your to-do list. You could put it in your diary or journal or even make a wall chart for you or your child to tick off. If you make it a daily goal, you’ll have a sense of achievement every time you complete it – and it will soon turn into a good habit. One with a gazillion benefits thrown in for both you – reading together is a great stress reliever – and your child.

3. Not-in-the-mood-ness

Ah, we’ve all been here – and kids use this reason as often as adults. The problem is that taking one day off because you don’t feel ‘in the mood’ can easily escalate into a permanent state of being (think gym memberships). It’s a slippery slope, but you can tackle it with a change of approach.

Your solution: If neither of you are in the mood, chances are you’re bored. You need to change things up. There are so many ways you can do this. You can change your reading material. Try non-fiction, for instance, or try a myth instead of a fairy tale. Change where and how you read – go outside, read in a blanket tent, read by torchlight. Change when you read – do it at a completely different time. Alternatively, reward yourselves for reading. We have some ideas on how you can do that here. Simple actions like this can banish boredom and ensure that your 10 minutes of reading is something you look forward to and treasure.

4. Fidgetiness

Some children have supernova-levels of energy. Some have short attention spans. We get it. They’d rather be charging up and down the living room or fidgeting around than cosying up for a story. Though getting them to settle might seem like an impossible feat, a Storytime session might be the very thing you need. It’s all in the timing.

Your solution: Use Storytime to help your child transition from fully alert to that relaxed twilight state before sleep. Think of your 10 minutes of Storytime as meditation or a cool down. Make sure your child is in pyjamas to signal that bedtime is coming and it’s time to relax. Explain that this will be part of your bedtime routine from now on. Now take a deep calming breath (it’s not a bad idea to ask your child to take one too) and read for 10 minutes. There’s no more powerful relaxant for a restless child than a bedtime story.


read to your child for 10 minutes every day, reading for pleasureSo next time you’re faced with a barrier like the ones we’ve listed above, consider the benefits of reading to your child for 10 minutes a day. That’s roughly the length of one or two Storytime stories. You could even fit in one of our poems!

Yes, it will make your child a more confident and able reader. Yes, there are numerous other benefits, educational and otherwise. But the most compelling reason of all is that it sends a powerful message to your child. You’re telling them that you care enough to devote quality time to them doing something that brings pure and simple joy… reading. And that’s how to be the world’s best parent in just 10 minutes!

Did we cover your barriers to reading to your children? Has this helped you prioritise reading for 10 minutes a day? Let us know by getting in touch on our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


Read and be brilliant this week,

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*Picture credit: Picsea at Unsplash.

Storytime Issue 55 Is Here!

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Can you believe we’re at Storytime Issue 55 and this is our first cover featuring a dragon? It just goes to show how many fantastic stories are out there battling it out to make the cover. In fact, we love the cover of Storytime Issue 55 so much (gracias, Leire Martin!), we almost want to put a dragon cover on every issue of Storytime. We’ll just change the name to Dragontime, okay? Deal? Deal!

kids magazine subscriptions, Storytime Issue 55

Leire Martin’s colourful take on Stan and the Dragon for Storytime Issue 55.

If you have ever doubted the power of human ingenuity and imagination (when science wasn’t available to say otherwise), just look at dragon stories and mythology. Why come up with a dull explanation for events when you can blame a dragon? Incidentally, it’s actually a dragon’s fault there’s a tiny typo in that story. Honest. It’s true!

Anyway, back to our lovely new issue – of which we are very proud and excited (apart from the harmless typo). For those who don’t already subscribe to Storytime and are yet to experience its magic, we like to take a closer look at each story and thank our wonderful contributors. So before we get carried with (or by) dragons, find out more here.

Inside Storytime Issue 55


Illustrator Georgia Broseghini graces our pages again with artwork for our newest Storyland Adventure. In this issue, Little Red Riding Hood has to face her fears and walk through the woods to visit granny again. Will she listen to advice this time and stay on the path? Naturally, the Big Bad Wolf tries to live up to his name.

Stan and the Dragon is a fun and adventurous fairy tale from Romania featuring a character who uses brains rather than brawn to outwit two dragons. Oh, and he has 100 children! The gorgeous cover (those colours!) and internal illustrations are by Leire Martin.

kids magazine subscriptions, Storytime Issue 55

Art by Marilisa Cotroneo for Rudyard Kipling’s How the Elephant Got Its Trunk in Storytime Issue 55.

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk, sometimes called The Elephant’s Child, is by Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book. This tale comes from his collection of Just So Stories, and we have updated it for a modern, younger readership. Marilisa Cotroneo illustrated this story and gave us the gorgeous cuddling elephants at the end. School subscribers will get a free classroom pack to use with this story. It contains a glossary, lesson ideas, activities, quizzes, comprehension tests and more. Find out more on our Schools site.

We had a lot of fun also updating the classic days-of-the-week nursery rhyme Monday’s Child (is full of grace… remember?). In Storytime Issue 55, it’s called A Musical Week and you can see kids and animals rocking out, playing instruments and having a great time. Special thanks to illustrator Carolina Grosa for bringing it to life. You can also download the original version here.

Storytime Issue 55’s fable, Cat Trouble has been updated too. It’s a fresh new version of the Aesop classic, Belling the Cat. As ever, there’s a thought-provoking moral to discuss. Plus you can admire Erica Salcedo’s fun illustrations. We love the raspberry mouse hat!

For our Tales from Today section, we bring you Squirrel Spy School. You know how there’s always one sneaky squirrel who gets to the bird feeder first? Well, in this story, you can meet him and witness a bird backlash! Mili Koey’s art for this is so full of energy.

Llamas, magic birds and golden lakes in this Storytime Issue 55 tale from Ecuador. Art by Lujan Fernandez.

You can travel to Ecuador for our Around the World Tale. It’s truly magical and Lujan Fernandez‘s illustrations are a joy. When an Incan ruler requires water from a golden lake to cure his illness, a little girl sets off with her llama to save the day. Along the way she meets magical birds and fierce lake guardians. Though she has a little help, she’s brave and heroic.

Finally, Storytime Issue 55 ends with a Norse myth and Loki – as usual – is the cause of everyone’s problems. This time, he’s blackmailed by a giant into getting hold of Idun’s powerful anti-ageing apples. As you can imagine, Odin is unamused, especially by his new grey hairs and wrinkles. Good shapeshifting fun – and illustrator Saoirse Louise gave us a great cast of mythical characters.

So Why Subscribe to Storytime?

What other children’s magazine takes you around the globe and brings you eight stories old and new in every issue? Shares fantastic illustrations from talent all over the world? Squeezes in poetry, puzzles, activities, printables, games, colouring, book reviews, quizzes and competitions too? In Storytime Issue 55, we’ve poured in as much good stuff as we can to help your children develop a love of reading – and set them up for life. You can read more about that here.

If you didn’t subscribe in time to catch this particular issue, don’t worry – you can pick up Back Issues in our Storytime Shop. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in seeing what’s coming next month (it’s a goodie!), check out our Issues page.


Be a hero this month – read lots of stories! And make friends with a dragon. They’re not all bad.

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All-new Storytime Issue 54!

kids magazine subscriptions, Storytime Issue 54 is out now, Storytime Issue 54,

Storytime Issue 54 is out now and it’s an issue that makes us immensely proud. After years of featuring famous fairy-tale princesses – the ones that get heaps of book, film and magazine coverage – we’re finally featuring a fairy-tale heroine we can relate to. Say hello to Molly Whuppie – vanquisher of giants and all-round cool kid. She’s brave, clever, witty and generous. And she appeals equally to boys and girls. Can you believe her story is over 100 years old? It makes you wonder why you don’t hear of her more often. Somebody write that film script now please.

Molly may be the star of Storytime Issue 54, but she has a rich and varied supporting cast – all brought to life by our team and incredible illustrators from all over the world.

This issue also includes the winner of our 50-Word Story Competition. Sophie Morgan Illingworth wrote the fun and clever Storytime Disaster, which was illustrated by Storytime favourite Gaby Zermeno, who has done a wonderful job of creating images that spring off the page. As well as having her story published in Storytime, Sophie won a special certificate and every Storytime issue we’ve ever printed for her collection. Congratulations, Sophie!

Find out more about the rest of Storytime Issue 54 here.

Inside Storytime Issue 54

Storytime Issue 54, kids magazine subscriptions

A scene from Welsh folk tale Guto and the Fairies. Art by Federica Tanania.

Our issue kicks off with a smart but simple lesson. Storytime Issue 54’s Famous Fable is The Giraffe and the Warthog – a tale about appreciating what you’ve got and accepting what others have too. Illustrator Nguyen Phung Quynh gave us animals bursting with character.

In Guto and the Fairies – an old folktale from Wales – a young boy encounters fairies in the Welsh mountains. Nobody believes that friendship with the fairies can come to any good, but Guto proves them wrong. We love Federica Tanania’s artwork for this.

Our new story, The Strongest Animal on Earth features acrobatic bugs galore and a dung beetle who doesn’t have many friends thanks to his unpleasant odour. However, when catastrophe strikes the insect circus, Barry the dung beetle might be the only one who can save the day. Rodolfo Velado captured his character perfectly in our illustrations. (Don’t forget to download our Amazing Minibeasts Sheet too!)

In our classic poem, Silly Simon (same poem you know and love, but with a more sensitive title), Simon gets up to all kinds of silliness. Kids will enjoy his lack of common sense and everyone will love Marisa Morea’s cute illustrations!

As mentioned, Molly Whuppie is Storytime Issue 54’s true heroine, along with Lucy Xue who provided the illustrations. Our lucky school subscribers will receive a free teaching resource pack to go with this story, which has lot of activities for the classroom. It comes with reading comprehension tasks, storyteller cards, writing prompts and much more. We’ve also started putting together a glossary covering tricky or new words across the whole issue. Find out more at our dedicated schools site.

From further afield, we bring you Juha the Joker – a legendary trickster figure in the Middle East. This story is super-simple but very funny – we think you’ll enjoy it! Tel Coelho gave Juha his mischievous look. Make sure you download our extra mini Juha stories from our freebies page too.

In our latest Storyland Adventure, illustrated as always by Giorgia Broseghini, Happy of the seven dwarfs wakes up and… shock horror… he’s feeling unhappy. The dwarfs’ usual routine is thrown into chaos, but can they help him find his happy again? You’ll have to read it to find out. However, we can tell you that it involves a great football match.

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Is Happy the man of the match? Find out in our latest Storyland Adventure. Art by Giorgia Broseghini.

Finally, we always like to put in a tale of love for Valentine’s Day and Storytime Issue 54’s is rather special. The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is a classic Chinese legend. It’s so famous, it’s celebrated every year. It might make you look at the stars differently. The wonderful Hahn Dung Ho illustrates this story beautifully.

With stories from Wales, China, India (our fable), the Middle East and the UK, we’ve travelled far and wide to bring you the best bedtime stories in the world. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we loved putting this magazine together. And, don’t forget, we have our usual mix of activities, a game, crafts, book recommendations and educational ideas too.

As always, let us know your thoughts. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! Until next time…


May you whup some giants this month!

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Storytime Issue 53 – Out Now!

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Happy New Year to you all and wishing you a happy new year of stories! If you’re lucky enough to have just started your subscription with Storytime Issue 53, then your children will have a real treat to this month. (And, in fact, every month for the rest of the year!)

Storytime Issue 53 sets the tone perfectly. It includes an imagination-boosting mix of fairy tales, a myth, a fable, a folktale, a new story, poetry and a funny story from Myanmar. Plus, there are activities, puzzles and crafts throughout the magazine and in our Storytime Playbox at the back. Oh, and this month, we’re challenging our readers to illustrate a Storytime cover. The winner will have his or her entry published in Storytime and receive some beautiful prints. Download a blank cover from our Freebies page to get started today!

But first, find out more about the stories and talent in Storytime Issue 53.

Inside Storytime Issue 53

Storytime Issue 53

Lex, the Not a Robot. Written by Holly Wallis and illustrated by Hugo Cuellar.

We love our vibrant cover and opening story for our Tales from Today section. Not a Robot was the brainchild of new writer and technology enthusiast Holly Wallis and Hugo Cuellar provided the brilliant illustrations. Can robots have feelings? Did the scientist do the right thing? In this age of AI, this story raises some interesting moral questions. What do you think?

Fans of Alphabet Zoo and Alphabet Ocean (from previous issues) should enjoy Alphabet Pet Shop. Mum and Dad finally give in and let the star of this poem have a pet. But with a whole alphabet to choose from, which animal will he pick? Perhaps you can help him decide. Thanks to James Loram for brining our pet shop to life.

In our fable from Africa, The Two-Coloured Coat, we have another thought-provoking story for you. Hopefully, it will encourage readers young and old to see things from a different point of view. Vera Zaytseva really captured the spirit of the characters in this story.

Storytime Issue 53

Find out which unlikely hero saves the day in The Naughty Goats. Art by Cristina Shiilia.

Next up we have funny folk tale The Naughty Goats with Cristina Shiilia’s lively illustrations. This story’s hero is most unexpected and comes with a message children will appreciate – never underestimate someone who’s small. As you’ll see, it’s a theme we like to come back to now and again.

For our Favourite Fairy Tale, we bring you The Talking Tree. You may not know it, but this story has it all – a brave king, a wicked witch, a scheming ogress, a princess trapped in a tree and magic ointments. Illustrator Teresa Martinez has given it a lovely whimsical feel and we think you’ll love it.

Why not do some armchair travelling and travel with us to Myanmar? We’ve got a fab little story about a chick with eyes bigger than its belly. Paula Pang illustrated this Around the World Tale, Little Chick and the Big Sneeze and it is just perfect. When you’ve just gotta sneeze, you’ve just gotta sneeze.

It’s hard to believe that we’re already on our fifth Storyland Adventure. In Storytime Issue 53, you can meet a few famous fairy-tale residents – Puss in Boots, the dreaded troll and one of the twelve dancing princesses. Find out what happens when they get together. Giorgia Broseghini‘s illustrations are glorious, as always.

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An Inuit tale, Sedna the sea goddess, illustrated by Wiliam Luong.

Finally, we bring you a strange but powerful Inuit myth called Sedna the Sea Goddess – one of the most famous in Inuit culture. Poor Sedna’s life isn’t easy and we have tried to play down the brutal nature of this tale, while staying true to the heart of the story. Not all stories are sugar-coated and this one in particular gives a good insight into a vastly different way of life – and the realities of survival in a harsh environment. Wiliam Luong created the wonderful watery illustrations.

We have all this for you, plus book recommendations and a chance to win some of the best new picture books. You can also make a robot, draw your favourite pet and play a story-inspired board game! We hope you enjoy Storytime Issue 53 – and look forward to a feast of fantastic stories in the year ahead! 2019 is going to be extra-special.


Forget reading resolutions, let’s start a reading revolution!

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You Can’t Catch the Gingerbread Man!

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Every year, we send a reader survey asking how we’re doing and what you like and dislike. This year, to coincide with our new fairy-tale series, Storyland Adventures, we asked for your favourite fairy tale. The plan was to weave it into this new world if any stories came through that we hadn’t already considered. This time round, even before the survey had closed, the clear winner was The Gingerbread Man.

Four years ago when we asked the same question Cinderella won by a long chalk. Meanwhile, that edible rebel, The Gingerbread Man, came fifth. We have some theories on The Gingerbread Man‘s steady rise in popularity and Cinderella’s slow decline. See if you agree.

Why The Gingerbread Man Is So Popular

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Sorry, Cinderella. You’ve been knocked off the top spot! Art by Cathy Delanssay.

  • The Gingerbread Man is often part of the KS1 English curriculum in infant schools. It also works alongside areas such as Design and Technology (baking gingerbread). It’s frequently performed by infants for parents, therefore, it’s a story the whole family knows from an early age.
  • It’s a great gender-neutral story. The Gingerbread Man is more biscuit than man, really. That means there’s no reason for either gender to be put off by the content. Furthermore, there’s no reason for teachers to reject it because it doesn’t appeal widely enough.
  • On the flip side, Cinderella has a strong female cast, which we’ve been told (by parents and teachers) can be off-putting to boys. Some parents and teachers have gone so far as to say that boys will reject the story completely. Though we firmly believe that stories should be and are for everyone, we often encounter adults rejecting female-foscused stories on behalf of boys. This is usually before they have even had chance to read them! This and a rise in gender-neutral stories could be why Cindy has got knocked off her throne.
  • Cinderella‘s fall in popularity also reflects the fact that we now have a more even split between male and female readers. When we first launched Storytime, our readership skewed more strongly towards girls.
  • On top of this, Disney’s live-action revamp of Cinderella has been and gone (2015), so she’s not quite as fresh in everyone’s minds. Though it’s also been a while since we saw Gingy in Shrek, the fact that he’s often part of the curriculum and constantly on sale in supermarket bakeries puts him in a slightly stronger position! (Given his popularity, I wonder why Disney has never done a full-length Gingerbread Man film.)
  • Finally, The Gingerbread Man has many elements that appeal to kids and parents. It’s a short read and is easy to learn off by heart. It’s a simpler story than Cinderella with a catchy refrain and repetition that’s great to read out loud – and join in with. It also features farm animals and has an easily adaptable ending. You can have the fox eating him or have him escape, depending on how much peril your child can stand. (More on this below!) All in all, it’s slightly more accessible for younger children than Cinderella. Plus the Gingerbread Man is a cheeky rebel, and kids love this.

When we run this survey question again in a few years, it will be interesting to see who’s at the top. Will Ginger keep his crown? Will Cinderella stay in the top ten at all?

To round off our thoughts on The Gingerbread Man, we thought we’d share some fascinating facts about the original story.

5 Facts About The Gingerbread Man

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The Gingerbread Man on our Storytime 52 Christmas Issue, with art by Giorgia Broseghini.

1. The Gingerbread Man began life in a different edible form. There are similar folk tales all over the world, starring balls of dough, bread and pancakes. They all predate the first Gingerbread Man story. Perhaps the ginger version became so popular as ‘The Fleeing Pancake’ isn’t very catchy. Why not make up your own version using the local delicacy of your choice?

2. The Gingerbread Man came from America. It seems that it first appeared in print in the popular St Nicholas Magazine in 1875, having been passed down from generation to generation to the writer.

3. Like all good folk tales, it has gone through many changes. In the first US version, the Gingerbread Man ran away from farmhands as well as animals. Plus there was no river to cross – he was just caught by the fox. He also didn’t say his famous “Run, run as fast as you can” taunt. In later versions, he is lured towards the fox when the fox pretends he can’t hear him. Later still, the river crossing is introduced.

4. The original US ending is still the best. Some may find it too dark, but the “Oh dear, I’m quarter gone, half gone, three-quarters gone and all gone!” ending, and “he never spoke again” is something of a welcome surprise in an age of watered-down peril. I’ve seen it acted out by reception age children who grinned from ear to ear performing this part of the story. It’s dramatic and satisfying. After all, the Gingerbread Man is a biscuit baked to be eaten – and you can always bake another one! But not all kids can stomach it. For those, there are many versions where he gets the better of the fox. In Storytime Issue 2, we honoured the original ending (you can get it from our shop).

5. The Gingerbread Man story might never have happened without Queen Elizabeth. Back in the 16th century, Queenie asked the royal baker to rustle up gingerbread biscuits that looked like her guests. This is one of the earliest records of gingerbread men. She wasn’t the only one at it – ladies of the court sometimes ate gingerbread versions of their husbands to bring them luck. It’s also thought that young maidens gave them as gifts to would-be partners, in the hope they would fall in love. Perhaps that’s why the story Gingerbread Man was running away!


To all The Gingerbread Man fans out there, we hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Ginger on the front cover of our Christmas issue. He’s the star of our latest Storyland Adventures along with a very special festive character.

This year’s Storytime survey has shown a notable shift in fairy-tale favourites in a remarkably short space of time. We can’t wait to see how it changes again in the future.


For now, all this talk of gingerbread men has made me hungry, so I’m off to catch one!


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Gingerbread Man working hard in his bakery in Storytime 52. Art by Giorgia Broseghini.

Storytime Issue 52: Christmas 2018 Special!

kids magazine subscriptions, storytime magazine issue 52, storytime issue 52, festive special, christmas special, gingerbread manRead, read as fast as you can… Our Christmas 2018 Special (Storytime Issue 52) is jingling its way to you and, once you’ve got it, you won’t want to read anything else! That’s because we’ve packed this festive special with so many great stories – classic and contemporary – and you’ll have such a nice time snuggling up with them, you’ll wish Christmas lasted longer.

Apart from our stories and the usual mix of activities, puzzles, colouring and a wordsearch, in this issue, we’ve teamed up with the charity KidsOut to donate Storytime issues to children living in refuges. You can find out more here and read about the story inspired by this charity below.

After all, Christmas is a time for giving – and giving stories is one of the best presents of all.

Now, here’s what’s inside Storytime Issue 52 and praise for our contributors.

Inside Storytime Issue 52 – Our Sparkling Christmas Special!

Brer Rabbit makes his second Storytime appearance in Brer Rabbit’s Christmas Dinner, which also features Brer Fox. (They both also appear in Storytime Issue 19, which you can pick up here.) This time, it’s Brer Fox who’s up to no good, and Brer Rabbit who has to seek revenge. As you’d expect, this mischievous American trickster does so with style! We’re in love with Maria Laura Brenlla‘s quirky illustrations for this story.

Pudding Charms by Charlotte Druitt Cole is this issue’s poem – a traditional rhyme about the joy of making Christmas puddings. This pudding is extra-special, as it has a helping hand from a fairy godmother! We have Letizia Rizzo to thank for the wonderful illustrations and dreamy colour scheme.

We can’t resist snowy bears, so our Famous Fable is The Bears and the Sack (a modern retelling of Aesop’s The Travellers and the Purse with added wolves). It’s a story about sharing with friends, so it’s perfect for this time of the year. Miru Kim‘s illustrations are just adorable.

For Storyteller’s Corner, we’ve updated an old folktale – Christmas on the Farm – and given it a smattering of European folklore magic. Without giving too much away, it features magical animals and we’re certain kids will love it. They might even try to copy the boy in the story and ask for a second Christmas tree… sorry about that! Alena Tkach‘s artwork for this tale is perfect, so don’t miss the final scene.

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Santa puts in a special appearance in Storytime Issue 52’s Gingerbread Man story. Art by Giorgia Broseghini.

Storyland Adventures is back with a new story from the world of fairy tales. This time, Gingerbread Man’s Baking Challenge sees our edible hero lose his cool when he has too much work and nobody to help him. Things take a turn for the worse when he gets a huge order from a mystery customer. Will he get it done in time and who placed the order? You’ll have to buy the issue to find out. Giorgia Broseghini‘s brilliant illustrations grace our cover and the story.

The Toy Tree is a new story by Nicky Saint, written especially for our Christmas issue. It was inspired by charity giving trees. If you haven’t heard of them, a giving tree is a Christmas tree covered with charity tags. Each tag has a child’s name and age on it. The idea is that you take a tag and buy a gift to donate to a child supported by the charity. Also inspired by this idea, for every copy of Storytime purchased from our Back Issue Shop until Christmas, we’ll donate an issue to KidsOut. Find out more about it here. We hope the story fills you with charitable thoughts and that you enjoy Marie Vanderbemden‘s illustrations.

Our Myths and Legends section travels to Iceland – home of the famous Yule Lads. They’re Iceland’s version of Santa Claus, but a lot smaller and cheekier. It’s great to show kids what Christmas is like in other cultures, so this story is ideal for that. And with names like Spoon Licker and Sausage Swiper, the Yule Lads are bound to cause some chuckles! Artist Audrey Molinatti tackled these tricky treaters and gave us a gorgeous snowy landscape to admire.

Finally – tissues at the ready – Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl closes Storytime Issue 52. Our readers have requested this story so many times, we felt we had to share a sympathetic version in this issue. It still has all the emotion of the original, but feels a little less brutal. Monique Dong’s beautiful illustrations also help make it less heart-wrenching.


There are many positive messages in Storytime Issue 52 – some subtle and some not so subtle. Most good stories carry some kind of message and this latest selection is just right to share at Christmas. But it’s not all serious – there are plenty of laughs too. We love funny stories at Storytime. And you can have fun solving puzzles, decorating gingerbread pictures and completing our Christmas wordsearch at the back of the issue.

Storytime Issue 52 is a festive bundle of fun and we hope you love it!

Kind Christmas wishes to you all,


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Storytime Supports KidsOut Charity

KidsOut, storytime magazine, magazine subscriptions for kidsCan you help us spread some story love this Christmas and bring joy to children living in refuges?

Between now and December 24th, for every Storytime back issue you purchase in our shop, we will donate a Storytime issue to the amazing children’s charity KidsOut.

KidsOut works hard all year round to bring fun and happiness to disadvantaged children living in refuges across the UK. Their mission is simple – to make kids happy through fun days out and events.

At Christmas, their focus turns to kids in refuge who won’t get any gifts at all, while children up and down the country unwrap piles of presents.

KidsOut, Storytime magazine, charity donation, back issues, kids magazine subscriptions, christmas gifts for kidsBecause children in refuges deserve to have a magical Christmas too, KidsOut launched a Giving Tree scheme. Instead of doing ‘Secret Santa’, every year, they urge companies and individuals across the UK to contact them for Christmas tree tags. Each tag has a gift suggestion on it for a child who is in a refuge. The idea is that you take a tag, buy the gift on it and then send the gifts to KidsOut. KidsOut’s brilliant army of volunteers then distribute the gifts to shelters across the UK. That way, no child goes without a Christmas gift.

Last year’s Giving Tree scheme provided children in refuge with over 18,000 toys and board games to play with on Christmas Day, thanks to the generosity of people like you.

You can find out more about it in our Christmas issue (posting out tomorrow, Friday December 6), which features The Toy Tree – a story inspired by the Giving Tree idea. We hope it will encourage some Christmas kindness.

Here at Storytime, we love what KidsOut do and we’d really like to add Storytime issues to the Christmas stockings of children in refuge. So if you’re looking for stocking fillers, then why not buy a Storytime back issue? We’ll tot up every issue you purchase until Christmas and then donate the same number of issues to KidsOut. That way, children in refuge also get the gift of stories this year.

Buy a Storytime issue and help us give children in refuge a happier story this Christmas!


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