What Makes A Good Story?

 

Happy New Year everyone! We hope 2022 will be an exciting year to us all! We thought we would kick start it by inviting some guests to our blog this year! We work with some amazing people – and have some lovely friends creating stories all over the place. So we decided to ask them to share thoughts, ideas and stories with our readers and hopefully, we will learn a lot of new things too!

 

This month our guest is the writer, artist and master storyteller Nick Abadzis. Over the course of his career, he has written for Marvel and DC Comics, created a series of amazing children’s books (Pleebus Planet) and even written for the Bob the Builder TV series. In 2007, he released a graphic novel called Laika, about the first dog in space. It won an Eisner award and several other international storytelling prizes. He recently teamed up with Academy Award-winning director Asif Kapadia to create a ground-breaking ‘extended reality’ film about Laika, which takes viewers along on the dog’s trip into space.

 

Nick can tell stories in any format – he has written graphic novels, scripts, fiction, non-fiction and he even does voiceovers… so he REALLY knows what stories are made of! People often ask Nick for advice. In this blog, he agreed to share his wisdom with us. If you love stories as much as we do, you will be fascinated to read about the secrets of a great storyteller! We hope it will also prove inspiring to any readers who dream of writing their own tales.

 

What Makes A Good Story?

 

No-one in the world is interested in hearing a bad story, or rather, a poorly told one. There are a lot of good stories out there, so perhaps the question should really be, “What makes a great story?” What makes a story so compelling and unique that you just have to hear it, want to read it, need to watch it?

 

Storytelling is something all human beings do, whether it’s a casual gossip, a joke to warm up a room or conversation to exchange information. That’s the great advantage evolution gave our species – language, via which we can co-operate, plan, compete, persuade, convince and inspire.

 

Conversation itself takes many forms – from discourse to dialogue, diatribe, debate and discussion – and is both simple and beguilingly complex. It can be straightforward or it can be sophisticated, it can be weaponised or it can be immersive, generous and transformative.

 

Storytelling, as a function of human communication, also takes many forms and is inherent in human beings – it, like language itself, is hardwired into us. Like conversation, it is infinitely malleable and is one of the oldest technologies human beings possess, older even than fire.

 

In that sense, we are all experts. We all know what we like. We might not all know when we are being lied to, but we do know when we are intrigued or entertained by a story. We all have an instinct for storytelling. There is no greater truism than, “It’s the way you tell ‘em,” whether it’s a politician on TV selling an idea, a dramatist convincing a producer to put on her play or simply a parent telling their child a good bedtime story.

 

What we all want to know is, how do I make a good story great? How do you tell a tale that cuts through all the chatter that simply must be heard by those whose attention you capture with that vital first line? If you capture one person’s attention and they like your story, they will spread the word, via conversation, via recommendation, via social media, and before you know it, you have an audience. Capturing their attention is one thing, holding onto it quite another. There are so many skills to master in storytelling.

 

Marshalling one’s own desire to be a storyteller or writer of any kind is a brave thing to do. Like any endeavour, it begins with a single step – a decision to do it, to embrace the idea and decide to live with it; to become it and make it a part of you. A beginning or a change of any kind takes courage.

 

Now you just need some ideas to develop.

 

One of the questions that professionals will tell you they regularly get asked is, “Where do you get your ideas from?” It’s a question that’s often derided as banal, daft, simplistic. It is, however, a question that articulates the basic uncertainty and curiosity that lies at the root of all storytelling, whether poor, good or great.

 

For me, the short answer to where my ideas come from is that I make them up. I have a Muse who, if she is in a good mood, supplies them to me. The longer answer is that they come from observing the world, observations and insights being the raw material that then gets processed through my own highly individual, internal filter of creativity. This is your greatest creative asset: no one sees or experiences the world how you do and if you have a manner of expressing yourself in a way that connects with people, you’re already on your way.

 

What makes a good story? You do.

 

In the end, it’s all you. A story becomes good by simply telling it once, twice, more, by experimenting with it, stretching it, reshaping it. As we all know, any story changes when retold in conversation – it gets embellished, events get reordered for dramatic or humorous effect, the tone of it can change according to your listeners’ reactions. It changes again once you write it down or begin illustrating it.

 

Stories are mutable, flexible, elastic. By telling your story seriously, or by telling it humorously, by choosing a method by which to tell it or frame it, you’re already crafting it in your own unique way. If you’re starting out as a writer, a storyteller or narrative artist of any sort, finding your own voice is the most important thing you’ll ever do.

 

Thing is, if you tell yourself that, it can be daunting, so it’s just as important to play. Don’t set yourself impossible tasks before you’ve fooled around a little and had some fun. Try telling yourself a deliberately bad story to see what happens.

 

The stories you like are not just signifiers of your own tastes, they’re signposts to the kinds of tales you’d like to tell. They’re clues to the path of your own creativity and your own good stories. Follow them.

 

On your way, always remember that mantra: What makes a good story? You do.

 

A good story is an artefact of sorts, whether constructed from words or imagery. It’s a coral skeleton of impressions, embers of a campfire left by a narrator who once stayed there into which you breathe new warmth with your own mind and imagination.

 

Finding your own sense of confidence shouldn’t feel like climbing a mountain in a day; it should feel like exploring it, camping on it, noting the changes in weather from the base to the craggiest peak. One day, if you get to know it, you’ll wake up and find that you have the confidence to push forward, to scale that mountain to the top and maybe see what’s beyond.

 

That way lies the land of the exceptional storytellers.

 

Nick writes about his books, storytelling and many other subjects on his blog, which you can find here: https://www.nickabadzis.com

 

You can also buy his books by following the links on this page: https://www.nickabadzis.com/test

Storytime Issue 89 Out Now!

 

Happy New Year, everyone! This is a special time when we can make a fresh start and explore new possibilities – and that is definitely a theme in this issue of Storytime! We invite you to join us and make 2022 the year of reading!

 

Storytime Issue 89 – A Time for New Beginnings

Our cover story is The Phoenix – and we hope you agree that the art by Davide Ortu is truly spectacular! The phoenix is a mythical bird that is reborn from ashes every five hundred years. This incredible creature is a reminder that we can put the past behind us and make a fresh start – a tale of resilience and hope.

 

One person who worked hard to overcome challenges and become a great inspiration to all is an amazing woman called Temple Grandin. She became a scientist, cattle-pen designer and an autism advocate who helped many people to understand the condition. Our Awesome Adventures this month, Temple Opens the Door, is about her childhood and her unique way of looking at the world, and artist Katya Tikhova did an astounding job in capturing her life. Temple would visualise new situations as being like ‘doors’ she could enter. What new doors would you like to open in the new year?

 

Speaking of new beginnings, The First Sunrise is a wonderful Aboriginal folk story about how the magpies lifted up the dark clouds from the Earth and awoke the sun goddess Wuriupranili, bringing light to the world. It’s a fun and uplifting story, graced by the luminous illustrations of Wandson Rocha. His renditions of Australia’s native animals are incredibly fun and full of life!

 

A new year is also an opportunity to follow our dreams, and many characters in our fairy tale do just that! A wee lad called Elias sells his house so he can learn to play the violin – he is soon making beautiful music, and is joined on his journeys across South America by a parade of dancing animals. The story has an unexpected and happy ending which we won’t spoil here! Sheyla Nogueira rendered the lovely vibrant art and even advised us on which creatures to include in this story!

 

The bedtime story in issue 89, Bambi on Ice, is about our favourite fawn learned to love winter – and ice-skating! We are sure you will love the gorgeous illustrations by Storytime favourite Giorgia Broseghini! Learning something new can open us up to all kinds of new experiences. Can you think of some new hobbies you might like to pursue in the coming year?

 

One skill that is always great to share with others is cooking! That is the theme of Mrs Valencia and the Paella, a fabulous tale by Canadian author Maria Antonia. When her mum is away on business, little Claudia goes to stay with her Spanish neighbour, who teaches her how to make a tasty new dish! Ramona Bruno illustrates this yummy tale with such flair that you can almost smell the rice, chicken and saffron! Why not choose a new dish that you would like to learn how to make? It’s probably easier than you think!

 

Not all changes that we make in our lives need to be big ones – sometimes, just changing our point of view can make a difference! That is what happens in this month’s fable, Genghis Khan and the Hawk. Artist LaPiz brings the past to life in this story of how the great conqueror keeps getting his cup knocked out of his hand. He is furious – until he discovers why the faithful bird did this! A true friend is a real treasure, and we couldn’t agree more with this lesson.

 

But to complete the issue, we thought we would throw a circular tale that reminds us to have fun and laugh! Munachar and Manachar is a rollicking ‘shaggy dog’ story about grumpy Munachar and his complicated plan to punish his berry-stealing friend. This is a great tale to read with someone else – while enjoying Momo Zhang’s hilarious illustrations, of course!

 

We hope you find something new, fun and inspiring in this month’s issue of Storytime! We have a lot of good stories lined-up for issues coming next too – so stay with us, and we will make sure 2022 will be a very magical year to us all!

 

Happy New Year!

 

The Storytime team

Christmas Self-Care Crackers

 

Christmas Self-Care Crackers

 

Sometimes the very best gift is not something that we want, but something that we need. With that in mind, the Storytime elves have wrapped up something a little bit special for you – a guest blog by counsellor and wellbeing expert Jessica Bowers. She writes the amazing entries for the My Mind Matters! section of Storytime, and she has come up with a fantastic list of ways we can take care of ourselves during the holidays…

 

There is more to self-care than allowing ourselves a treat every now and then. It is about maintaining daily habits that of protect and promote our own happiness, health and well-being – particularly during stressful and busy times.

 

At a time the winter nights draw in and we recover from the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has never been more important to look after ourselves by practicing self-care.

 

As parents, carers and teachers, we are continually giving of ourselves to take care of our children’s needs – and our roles are challenging and multi-faceted. I am sure you have heard the saying, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ – this is certainly very true!

 

It’s important to take time to think about your current self-care practices and consider where improvements might be made. Are you currently experiencing any of these signs, which might indicate that your self-care needs improving?

 

  • Feeling more tired, irritable, stressed and/ or overwhelmed than usual
  • Experiencing changes in concentration levels
  • Eating and drinking more or less than usual
  • Changes in your usual social interactions
  • Sleeping less than or more than usual

 

Self-care practices can easily be incorporated into our daily routines. Even comprise of 2–5-minute activities can be invaluable if you are short of time. These could include:

 

  • Sensory activities such as breathing in fresh air or cuddling your pet
  • A hobby that gives you pleasure, like knitting or baking.
  • You might prefer more spiritual activities such as reading inspiring quotes or lighting a candle.
  • Physical activities might include stretching, yoga, dancing and even napping.
  • Connecting with others and arranging a chat with a friend might be great too.

 

Self-care can include acts of giving to others; my passion as a wellbeing writer was borne from the limited ways in which I could practice self-care during the first lockdown. However, I should note that if the act of giving becomes part of your stress and pressure, then it is no longer in the service of your own wellbeing.

 

This Christmas, more than any other, will be a time to celebrate and get together with our loved ones. Here are some self-care practices for you and your family to try this festive season. If you do make a New Year’s Resolution next year – I invite you to consider prioritising your self-care!

 

  • Wrap up and go for a crisp winter walk in the fresh air as a family to blow the cobwebs away
  • Plan a Christmas Movie Night with pyjamas and treats to share
    Practice giving gratitude for 5 minutes each day as part of your daily routine
  • Light some candles and enjoy the warm glow in the evenings
  • Look for some mindful, breathing exercises that you could do together while listening to some peaceful Christmas music
  • Go to the library together and choose some festive books and stories to read during the holidays
  • Find some new podcasts to enjoy whilst you do your household chores
  • Try something new – maybe a new recipe or Christmas craft activity.
  • Take it in turns to plan your favourite meal once a week.
  • Create a home spa with face packs and nail painting – and give each other massages and foot-rubs
  • Do some yoga and stretches together – Cosmic Kids yoga have some very engaging free online sessions suitable for younger children
  • Download and play the Self-Care Bingo game from Storytime issue 88 and see if you can tick all the boxes on your table this season!

 

Remember, practicing good self-care will have a positive effect on your children. They can learn how important it is to take action to care about and look after themselves in positive ways too. In ‘My Mind Matters!’ this month, we have introduced the topic of self-care to your children and linked it with the festive period as well.

 

We will be looking into this topic in more detail in the future, as it is important all year round! Starting anything new takes conscious effort as well as a bit of discipline and practice – but it is totally worth it!

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading our ‘Christmas Self-Care Crackers’! Wishing you all a Merry and relaxing Christmas and a New Year full of joy and stories to share!

 

Jessica is a mother of 3 children, a wellbeing writer, and a counsellor and psychotherapist. Prior to this, she worked with children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties for over ten years.

She has written a series of wellbeing-themed children’s picture books, aimed at 4-7-year-olds. The first is titled Fantastic Fin Faces his Fears – it is available on Amazon.

Jessica is now delivering her ‘Get Active with Emotions’ workshop in schools, and gives talks about the books she has authored. Visit her website for more information: www.jessicabowers.co.uk

Email: enquiries@jessicabowers.co.uk.

Facebook and Instagram: @jessicabowerswellbeingwriter

Twitter: @bowerswellbeing.

Storytime Issue 88 Out Now!

 

It’s a special time of year for many reasons –that’s why we always put extra effort into the holiday issue of Storytime. But what makes this time special? Is it the food, or the presents, or the catchy tunes?

No, we believe that what makes it special is togetherness – it is a time when we celebrate being with those that we care about. And appropriately, togetherness is the theme of this month’s issue, which we hope you will be sharing with your loved ones too!

 

Storytime Issue 88 – The Gift of Togetherness

Our cover story, Midwinter Magic, is about some animals who see the different ways that their human neighbours celebrate the holiday season and decide to get together and throw their own festive party. Dominika Rensch did the wonderful art – and the eye-catching cover of Greypaws the racoon wearing a Santa Lucia crown! Midwinter Magic reminds us to respect our differences, and that being grateful and celebrating together is what truly matters!

 

This issue’s fairy tale is something special – and not only because Monica Garofalo conjured up a magical land with her artwork! In The Christmas Tree Forest, the children who live in a hidden kingdom go into the woods to collect gifts left by Father Christmas, only to find the trees bare! The king and queen of that country go on a quest to find out what happened, and learn that while presents are nice, giving and sharing and being with loved ones is what really matters…

 

Antonella Fant is the artist who illustrated the lovely story of Little Piccola. This girl was lonely until she made some new friends who told her all about the wonders of Christmas. We’re not going to spoil the ending – but there is a little miracle!

 

Another special friendship is the focus of Audun and the Bear, a beautiful tale from Iceland. As you might guess, the young hero befriends a bear and goes on an adventure and makes his fortune. But in the end he realises that what he really wants to do is see his mother again, and returns home with gifts and stories to share. David Sierra sprinkles his illustrations with a certain polar magic in this story!

 

A cosy and warm present might be all we want for Christmas! Giorgia Broseghini did another wonderful job illustrating The Gingerbread Man’s New Clothes, in which the title character gets a warm icing outfit from a friend who is a true artist!

 

Let’s not forget how loved ones can inspire and bring out the best in us! The Great Genies of Angria and Gondal is about some siblings who share some toy soldiers and then make up amazing stories about them. This is a true story about the Bronte sisters and their brother, and it shows how valuable sharing and encouraging each other can be. Though they started out by writing about their soldiers, Anne, Charlotte and Emily would go on to create some of the most famous novels ever written!

 

Sadly, sometimes we can’t be with the people we care about – but we can still think about them with love! Balder and the Mistletoe is a myth about a beloved Norse god who is struck down by a wooden spear. His family mourns him, and tries their very best to bring him back. The truly stunning illustrations, courtesy of Jovan Ukropina, really bring the characters to life. This tale has a message to us all: we should cherish those we love, and the time we get to spend together!

 

Lastly, we have a fable about a character who doesn’t appreciate those around them as much but are stuck together! The Fir tree learns a humble lesson in the end however. The very talented Mona K rendered the art for The Bramble and the Fir Tree.

 

The Storytime team would like to wish you a very merry festive season. We love sharing our tales with you – and hope you enjoy this latest instalment, full of hope and light. Sharing stories with those you love is always a great idea, so if you need a last minute gift we have some lovely holiday deals available in our online shop! Our bumper subscriptions to the new Storytime Hub truly are gifts that keep on giving all year round!

 

Happy stories and happy holidays everyone!

 

The Storytime team

Storytime in China!

 

This month, we have some very big news: our magazine has now been published in China, with issue 1 hitting the shelves in October.

 

We’ve always created Storytime with a global audience in mind. We know that great stories are universal and celebrating the wonderful diversity of tales from around the world is a core part of who we are – and because of this we are fortunate to have a strong licensing programme around the world. But few Western magazines get released in China and the process of approval can be long, which makes this opportunity particularly exciting for us.

 

We’ll be working with local publishers, Muse Future, who will be adapting and translating our content into Chinese, but the stories and activities will remain largely the same. Though we have always included Chinese stories in Storytime because it is such a culturally rich place, our partners are also interested in the high quality of illustrations, the diversity of the content and stories from other cultures, in particular our real-life tales and fairy tales too.

 

The new audio versions of our stories (available on the Storytime Hub) will feature on their Storytime website from early next year too! We are beaming with pride and excitement to see the magazine we create every month gain a new audience.

 

Ji Rongchang, Editor in Chief & CEO of Muse Future Ltd had this to say

 

“I first came across Storytime in 2018. The illustration on the cover was beautiful, and the magazine was not only attractive on the outside but also had so much inside, with a great variety of worldwide stories, fables, legends, folk tales, adventures and more, plus no ads whatsoever.

 

My little boy loved it as much as I did, and I felt eager to introduce Storytime into China share it with all the other Chinese children immediately! Storytime magazine is one of the most popular children’s magazines in UK, but such a brilliant magazine will surely do good for children around the world. We’ll join hands to produce more exciting stories for the kids in UK, China and other countries in the future.”

 

Of course, Chinese culture is very rich and full of great stories. Storytime has always featured many of them and celebrated their traditions in our Around the World Tales section. To mark our Chinese debut, we would like to mention five of our particular favourites! Be sure to check them out and let us know which one is your favourite.

 

‘The Monkey King’ (Storytime #83)

‘Journey to the West’, a classic Chinese adventure story. The story has been told and retold innumerable times over hundreds of years in books, comics, live action, animation and on stage. To say that this story is influential is an understatement and it was a special treat for us to do our own interpretation of it! What can we say? We can’t resist a story about a cheeky monkey hero with kung fu superpowers!

 

‘The Emperor’s Race’ (Storytime #41)

This myth tells the story of how the Chinese zodiac came to be and how the order of the twelve animals was chosen. Kids are sure to love this action-packed, zany tale about animals taking part in a celestial race. Stories like this one are great at giving us insights into other cultures, teaching us something new, while being great fun at the same time.

 

‘How the Moon Became Beautiful’ (Storytime #87)

Of course, not all stories need to be action packed. This is a dreamlike, tranquil tale with a beautiful message. It tells of how the moon was once dark and dreary, but gained the ability to glow when he was taught the importance of kindness and gentleness by young lady called Tseh-N’io – brought to life with luminous art from illustrator Tilia Rand-Bell

 

‘Shadow Puppets’ (Storytime #80)

Shadow puppet plays are much beloved in China to this day, and this is a legend about how they came to be. The emperor of China is heartbroken when he loses his wife. One of his advisors comes up with a brilliant idea: using shadow-puppets to tell stories that remind the emperor of his beloved. This touching, heartfelt legend demonstrates the great healing power that stories can have.

 

‘The Four Dragons’ (Storytime #20)

No listing of classic stories would be complete without mentioning dragons – and this is an all-time favourite. These magnificent creatures are guardians and protectors in Chinese mythology, and the gorgeous art in this story really bring them to life.

 

We have heard that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts, and that’s one of the many reasons that stories can play such a powerful role in bringing people together from all over the world. Long may they continue to do so – and we look forward to helping our readers travel to distant and faraway places with every issue! Thanks for joining us in giving a warm welcome to our Chinese readers!

 

Read Happily Ever After,

 

The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 87 Out Now!

 

Reading a good story can be like going on a magical journey. It can transport us to places we have never been, or make familiar things seem truly fantastic! We hope that you will fall under the spell of the very special tales in our November issue!

 

Storytime Issue 87 – An Enchanted Issue

Friendships can be magical things – and they can even transform our lives! That is the theme of the Chinese folk tale, How the Moon Became Beautiful. It tells of how a gentle maiden’s kindness helped the moon to glow and light up the night sky. Artist Tilia Rand-Bell brought her own special magic to this story with her unique and luminous art.

Here at Storytime, we love to contribute to good causes – and give our readers the chance to do their bit, too! How the Moon Became Beautiful was chosen to promote the George Oliver Foundation, which supports children and young people in need in the UK and around the world.  For every back issue of Storytime sold in our store in November and December, we will give 50p to the foundation so they can help the kids who need it most. You can find out more about their projects at www.georgesfoundation.org and our initiative at www.storytimemagazine.com/george.

 

In fairy stories, magical beings often use spells to transform others – and that is what happens in The Enchanted Stag. The deer of the title is actually a boy who is ensorcelled by a wicked witch. Don’t worry – it has a happy ending and the wee boy isn’t the only one who is transformed! Lily Stock provided the eye-catching artwork for this Brothers Grimm classic, as well as the issue’s wonderful cover.

 

Another witch stars in Baba Yaga’s Winter Escape, which is a bedtime story with a twist. Baba Yaga is a villain in many Russian folk tales, but in this adventure, we take her on holiday! Her enchanted walking house that can walk around on its chicken legs, but when it gets lost, she finds herself in the Himalayas! Giorgia Broseghini’s lovely art is perfect for this charming story.

 

In Pele and the Poi, the hot-tempered Hawaiian volcano goddess use her magic on herself! She wants to find out more about her human neighbours, so she changes into an old lady and pays them a visit! Chiara Carapellese did an amazing job bringing Hawaii and its inhabitants to life in her illustrations, which also give a little tropical warmth to this chilly season.

 

Real inventions are like magic – they can inspire a sense of wonder and even change the world! That’s exactly what happens in the charming Swiss story of The Fairy Queen’s Cuckoo Clock. Vanessa Morales provided the fun and gorgeous artwork for this tale of an absent-minded man who is given the idea of a cuckoo clock by the fairy queen. This incredible device enchanted the man’s neighbours, and helped the Swiss to become amazingly punctual!

 

Of course, music can also put a spell on us. In The Adventures of Young Finn, a fire-breathing giant puts a whole city to sleep with a tune played on an enchanted harp! Luckily for the inhabitants, though, a brave Irish boy with a sorcerous spear is on hand to save the day. We think that Alex Herrerías’ must add something a little bit magical to his paint, because his gorgeous art transports us back to the age of legends!

 

James Takes Sail, illustrated by the very talented Sara Porras, is a very real story about a boy who falls under the spell of the ocean! Stories of adventure on the high seas inspire young James to work hard and follow his dream of becoming a sailor. Believe it or not, he grew up to become Captain James Cook, one of the most famous explorers and navigators of all time.

 

And finally, we have something a bit special for this month’s Tales from Today, The Grand Royal Minibeast Hotel by author Clare Owers. It has a catchy title (borrowed from one of our favourite films), but what really enchanted us was the story in itself. Sometimes we can find magic in our own back gardens, especially when we let our imagination run free! Let’s just say that a wonderful transformation happens at the end – we don’t want to spoil the surprise!

 

A good story has the power to enchant us and keep young readers spellbound. It can make a grey day into a brighter one, influence our feelings and emotions, and inspire us to dream brilliant dreams. As autumn transforms the world outside, we hope you will find a cosy and warm place to read our November issue and let yourself fall under its spell!

Happy Reading!

The Storytime Team

Ten Reasons to Love Storytime

 

It is a rare privilege to work on a project that you love – and all of us on the Storytime team are very proud of the magazine we have created. As we’ve just celebrated our seventh birthday, we thought it was time to look back through our journey from small independent publication to one of the largest children’s magazines in the country. In our humble and not-at-all-biased opinion – these are the top ten reasons why we think Storytime is one of the most special children’s magazines in the world. We hope you agree!

 

1. You’re in Good Company

Storytime is now one of the biggest children’s magazines in the UK, read and enjoyed by tens of thousands of children, parents and teachers, in over 60 countries and counting.

We also have international versions of the magazine, having most recently launched in China, with two more new versions imminent.

We’re truly honoured that what has begun as a labour of love from a small office in London is now a global success, and for that we must thank each and every one of our wonderful readers who has been part of our journey.

 

2. A Rich Variety of Stories

We’re proud that Storytime has something for everyone. Longer myths and fairy tales for kids who love getting stuck into an adventure, shorter tales that are just right for reluctant readers, and even two-page mini stories that are perfect for bedtime.

Whether kids are into dragons or space, animals or princesses, mermaids or pirates, they’ll find something they enjoy in our pages and hopefully discover something new as well. We take a lot of care to research tales from all eras of history, from the four corners of the globe, and we welcome a wealth of creative collaborators and new talent in every issue. The result is the most fun, fantastic and diverse selection of stories you will ever see!

 

3. Celebrating Diversity

Around the World Tales is consistently the most popular section in Storytime. We love to celebrate different cultures and countries through our stories and illustrations – and so do our readers. It’s important that whatever a child’s background they see themselves represented in our stories and know that they can be anything they want to be.

As publishers, we feel that we have a responsibility to showcase diversity and acceptance. Stories help us to build bridges and break down barriers. They introduce us to different cultures, places, and points of view. Every time a child sees someone like themselves in our story or learns how to look at things from someone else’s point of view, we are taking a step towards a kinder, fairer world.

 

4. Proudly Plastic Free

We’ve been proudly plastic-free since the very beginning. We recall that before we launched Storytime, several large companies in our industry strongly advised us that we needed plastic toys to sell magazines, but we wanted the quality of content to shine through instead. We know that our readers take their environmental responsibilities very seriously – and we do too!

We post our copies in paper envelopes and compostable bags, we print our magazine on recycled paper and are 100% committed to help and spread ideas on how we can all be more green! Download our Love Your Planet eco-pack here.

 

5. We Support the National Curriculum

Storytime supports the National Curriculum for Reading, Writing and Comprehension. We create a special teaching resource pack to accompany each issue of Storytime that is filled with lesson ideas, comprehension exercises, a glossary and activities that complement what kids are learning in school.

It’s not just literacy – we cover many topics from the KS1 and KS2 curriculum – from history and geography to maths and science. In particular our real-life stories section introduces children to people such as Ada Lovelace, Charles Darwin or Mary Anning. Our stories are a great way to introduce many of the subjects covered in the UK curriculum and the extra activities will help teachers and parents to take them further.

 

6. Social Enterprise

Storytime is a social enterprise, which means that money we make goes back into our work supporting reluctant readers. We work with schools, councils and other organisations to get Storytime into the hands of as many families as possible, to improve the literacy of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to ultimately to improve the prospects and attainment of these children.

A recent project, in collaboration with the British Academy and Queen Mary University London was a magazine series called We Are Heroes, using myths and legends as parallels to lockdown experiences children might be going through. It reached tens of thousands of children across the UK and the feedback was truly overwhelming

 

7. Improving Literacy

We know from surveying our readers that the work we are doing to get Storytime into the hands of reluctant readers really pays off. After a year of receiving Storytime 77% of children are reading for longer and 83% are enjoying reading more (Storytime April 2021 survey).

Since the first lockdown we’ve worked with organisations across the UK to post out tens of thousands of extra copies of Storytime, to families who needed additional support, particularly where there was limited digital access. The magazine format works brilliantly where parents or children may find a book intimidating, and this ‘missed time’ out of school is critical for a child’s future development. Children who are read to from a young age start school with a significantly greater vocabulary compared to their peers.

 

8. Quality and Value for Money

We firmly believe that we deliver a top-quality magazine and are determined to give our readers great value for money. Every month we bring you 52 pages full of awesome stories and beautiful illustrations on high quality paper that lasts so you can go back to a favourite story time and time again. We collaborate with a wonderful team to create original content and stunning art and strive to make Storytime the best magazine possible.

With every issue, we also reward our readers with free downloads, book reviews, competitions, bonus activities, learning resources and much more. Each issue will keep you busy for the whole month, just in time for a new one to come through your letterbox!

 

9. Enjoy Storytime Any Way You Like

Many of our readers LOVE the thrill of opening a colourful envelope and exploring a newly printed issue – we do too!

But with our online Storytime Hub, you can enjoy our stories in new ways. Over 700 stories, every tale we have ever published, can be accessed online, anytime you want. We even have audio versions of them all, which are perfect for reluctant readers, children with English as an additional language – or simply for drifting off at bedtime before children dream about their own adventures!

 

10. Making Memories

We truly believe that there’s no greater joy than getting lost in a good story. We hope that in years to come, our readers will have fond memories of the story times they shared – whether they be at bedtime with their parents or storytelling in the classroom.

And maybe, just maybe, in years to come, they’ll pass on a love of stories to their own children – and they will curl up together with a copy of Storytime too!

 

Happy story time everyone!

 

The Storytime team

Storytime Issue 86 Out Now!

 

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

 

Storytime Issue 86 – A Time for Transformations!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Happy Reading!

The Storytime Team

Interview with Jessica Bowers

 

Interview with Jessica Bowers, Well-Being Writer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

– Sounds great! Where can readers find your book?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Storytime Issue 85 Out Now!

 

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

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

 

Storytime Issue 85 – Learning Life Lessons!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Happy Reading!

The Storytime Team