True-Life Tales!

True-life tales

 

Two years ago, we introduced a new section to Storytime: Awesome Adventures! They tell the true tales of kids who grew up to change the world. If the responses to our surveys are any indication, you are enjoying these stories very much! These tales are apparently among your favourite reads, so we thought you might like to know how and why we create them.

The Inspiration

The Storytime team loves fiction (of course!), but we also believe that amazing stories come from real life. There are lots of awesome people in history with fascinating stories to tell, and our readers are always looking for more factual content in the magazine. Writing biographical tales about inspiring individuals seemed to be the natural next step!

 

There are plenty of books about famous people out there for little ones, but they often just retell the basic facts of a famous person’s life in a kid-friendly way. We quickly decided that we didn’t want to create encyclopaedia-like articles. Instead, we wanted to discover what these people were like before they became famous… and what inspired, them to change the world! That’s why we decided to write fun stories about the real childhoods of famous people…

 

We were determined to include interesting people (and even animals!) of all kinds, from many different places and eras. Awesome Adventures tales have been written about scientists and engineers, activists and artists, historical characters, and sportspeople. We hope that these stories will open our readers’ minds to new ideas, experiences and possibilities.

How Do We Create Amazing Adventures?

Coming up with a fun and informative tale based on a real life can be a challenge! Writing each story takes a lot of research, and online sources usually aren’t enough. We go through in-depth biographies look for material for compelling and child-friendly stories!

 

In some cases, the stars of our tales have written books about their own childhoods, which is invaluable. (Temple Grandin, Nelson Mandela, Nadia Comaneci, and Billie Jean King have written excellent books about themselves, for example – we recommend them!)

 

But what about people who lived a long time ago? When writing about Alexander the Great, Confucius, Leonardo Da Vinci and William Shakespeare, we find out as much as we can about their upbringing and use what we know to form the ‘skeleton’ of a story, and then use our imaginations to fill in some gaps. We include as many of the facts as we possibly can when crafting these tales, though!

 

What we want to create are tales that inform, inspire and entertain, all at once. We hope that by telling kids about the childhoods of people who went on to accomplish great things, they will be inspired to follow their own dreams and make a difference. After all, every amazing person was once a kid… just like them!

 

And here are five reasons why real-life tales are good subjects to share with young readers:

1. They provide new perspectives!

Learning about someone’s else experiences can give kids new ideas about how to deal with the challenges they face.

2. Our heroes or heroines were once kids – just like them!

This can inspire young readers to follow their own dreams and unlock their own potential!

3. Life is an awesome adventure!

Awesome Adventures are set in the real world, with no spells or enchanted creatures, but that doesn’t mean that wonderful things can’t happen to us!

4. These stories teach history and geography in a fun and approachable way!

We travel far back in time and cross many miles to tell these tales! They can introduce readers to new places, cultures and time periods through the eyes of a child like them.

5. We never forget life lessons!

Real-life stories are a cool way to learn relatable lessons. The main characters in these stories faced many challenges and overcame them – and so can your children!

 

We hope you have fallen in love with our Amazing Adventures section! Which one was your favourite, who would you like to see featured in this section in the future? We would love to hear from you, so get in touch and keep looking out for inspiration… it’s everywhere!

Create Your Own Legend Copy

 

This year has just rushed by, hasn’t it? It seems like only yesterday that it was January, and a whole year was ahead of us!

 

We hope that you have made the most of 2023 – and enjoyed the stories we have brought to you in the pages of Storytime. (Don’t be afraid to let us know how we could do better, though. We love it when you answer our yearly reader’s survey!)

 

When the New Year comes around, we often think of resolutions that we hope to follow. We’re sure you have some in mind already. The problem is, change can be difficult, and we’ve all failed to live up to our own expectations at some time or other. But a team of scientists at the University of Chapel Hill in the United States may have found a way of making effective change in our lives by harnessing the power of stories.

 

The researchers focussed on the idea of the ‘hero’s journey’, a concept developed by Professor Joseph Campbell. In his study of the world’s myths and legends, he noticed that the main characters often went through the same stages in their quests.

 

How can we use Campbell’s ideas to shape our own lives? If you think about it, you are writing a story every day. It’s the story of your life! Research indicates that people who think of their lives as a great ‘journey’ or ‘quest’ report feeling a greater sense of purpose and lower levels of depression!

 

While we do not have control over everything in our lives, we do have the ability to change how we look at ourselves, the world, and the difficulties we face. This is called ‘reframing’, and it can be a powerful and empowering tool. Storytelling helps us to do so with more ease, using elements of stories to guide us in writing a new narrative. So why not try reframing your life as a legendary tale? You could see the New Year as the beginning of a new chapter of your life story – and it’s a perfect time to embark on a quest to become your best self. We hope you will find it an inspiring journey.

 

Create your own legend

Here are the seven things you need to turn your life into an epic quest…

1. A protagonist!

This is the main character in a story. In the story of your life, it has to be you! Think of all your qualities and strengths, and all the great skills that make you unique!

2. The shift!

Nothing stays the same forever, and we all have to deal with changes in our lives. Can you think of some big change that you have experienced? That could be your shift. Use that moment as the starting point of your adventure.

3. The quest!

What is a thing that you want to achieve to change your circumstances and grow? If you can’t think of a quest that you are currently on, why not come up with one now? Think of the future and something you would like to achieve.

4. Allies!

Who will help you on your quest? It could be friends, family members, or even a loving pet! Make sure you surround yourself by people you love!

5. A Challenge!

What is the most difficult thing you are facing in your quest to improve your life? Which skill do you need to overcome it? Can you ask for help? Do you need courage or strength? Where can you find what you need?

6. Transformation!

Completing a great quest leaves a protagonist changed forever – they are no longer the person they were when it began! How would YOU like to be transformed? Who is the new you, after the challenge?

7. Legacy!

Once you have completed your quest, you will have something to pass on to those who follow you. What legacy would you want to leave for others? What have your learned that you can share? We hope you feel proud of yourself, like the hero and heroine of your own story. What is the great ending of this legend?

 

The beautiful thing about this exercise is that you can use it again and again in your life, whenever new challenges come in. And every time you can write new chapters, of the most beautiful story of all: your own!

 

Happy New Year to all our lovely readers and writers of legendary tales!

Storytime Issue 113 Out Now!

 

Growing and Changing

Welcome to a brand-new year! We hope it brings you peace and joy and limitless new possibilities!

It’s traditional to think of this time as one for grand resolutions – but why should we only focus on change in January? Surely it would be better if we would keep changing and growing all year round? If you think about it, we should always try to become a better and truer version of ourselves!

As it happens, the January issue is full of stories about characters who are improving themselves in different ways.

 

Elizabeth Dale contributed this month’s enchanting cover story, Max’s Magic Socks. Little Max wants to take part in a roller-skating show with his big brother and sister – but he keeps falling over! A pair of magical skates help him to keep his balance and do cool tricks… or do they? Perhaps practice and hard work are the real secret to success? We’re sure you will love this hilarious and inspirational tale, which features vibrant art courtesy of Werllen Holanda

 

 

The Keeper of the Ball has a similar theme! It’s about a real-life boy called Edson (no, that’s not a typo!) who loves football and uses ingenuity and hard work to start a team and get uniforms and a ball.  The talented illustrator Patrick Camelo  transports us back to 1950s Brazil, where you will discover the origin story of one of the greatest footballers of all time. Can you guess who it is?

 

 

 

Another way that we can make a change in our lives is by changing our look to express who we really are. That’s what a bird does in The Crow’s Necklace, a fun story from the Philippines that is livened up by the colourful pictures by Olga Sall.

 

Goldilocks’ Hoodie has a similar theme – Jessica Maltezo illustrates a bedtime story about what happens when the Three Bears take their blonde-haired friend clothes shopping. But will she give up on her favourite old top? You’ll have to read it to find out!

 

Education is another way to evolve as people. In the charming story of Pete Bull, a farmer and his wife love their little calf, so they decide to get him lessons in reading, writing and maths! This is a charming story with a surprising ending, and you’re sure to love the gorgeous art by Giovanni Abeille!

 

None of us like making mistakes … but if you think about it, isn’t this how we learn some really important lessons in our lives? That’s certainly what happens in this month’s fable. In The Two Goats, an arrogant little kid (brought to life by the wonderful artist Chiara Chiesa) refuses to back down in a clash with her brother… and they both suffer the consequences. Let’s hope they both learn from the experience!

 

The main character in the Native American legend of The Girl Who Helped the Thunder is called ‘Pretty Face’, so it’s not surprising that that she is very proud of her looks! She’s also easily flattered, which is why she is persuaded to leave her family by a handsome stranger. As you might have guessed, she learns the hard way that not everything is as it seems, and looks are not the most important thing! The pictures Rut Llerena Carmona created for this tale are stunning!

 

The last story for this month is The Snowman, a lovely story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen and illustrated by the talented Sviatlana Shkil. The title character is created by a group of kids on a winter’s day and learns about life from a gruff dog… but as the sun gets warmer, he finds himself transforming in a slightly worrying way. Perhaps the message of this story is that nothing lasts forever… not even an amazing talking snowman?

 

We hope you are inspired by these stories and grow and flourish in the coming year!

Create Your Own Legend

 

This year has just rushed by, hasn’t it? It seems like only yesterday that it was January, and a whole year was ahead of us!

 

We hope that you have made the most of 2023 – and enjoyed the stories we have brought to you in the pages of Storytime. (Don’t be afraid to let us know how we could do better, though. We love it when you answer our yearly reader’s survey!)

 

When the New Year comes around, we often think of resolutions that we hope to follow. We’re sure you have some in mind already. The problem is, change can be difficult, and we’ve all failed to live up to our own expectations at some time or other. But a team of scientists at the University of Chapel Hill in the United States may have found a way of making effective change in our lives by harnessing the power of stories.

 

The researchers focussed on the idea of the ‘hero’s journey’, a concept developed by Professor Joseph Campbell. In his study of the world’s myths and legends, he noticed that the main characters often went through the same stages in their quests.

 

How can we use Campbell’s ideas to shape our own lives? If you think about it, you are writing a story every day. It’s the story of your life! Research indicates that people who think of their lives as a great ‘journey’ or ‘quest’ report feeling a greater sense of purpose and lower levels of depression!

 

While we do not have control over everything in our lives, we do have the ability to change how we look at ourselves, the world, and the difficulties we face. This is called ‘reframing’, and it can be a powerful and empowering tool. Storytelling helps us to do so with more ease, using elements of stories to guide us in writing a new narrative. So why not try reframing your life as a legendary tale? You could see the New Year as the beginning of a new chapter of your life story – and it’s a perfect time to embark on a quest to become your best self. We hope you will find it an inspiring journey.

 

Create your own legend

Here are the seven things you need to turn your life into an epic quest…

1. A protagonist!

This is the main character in a story. In the story of your life, it has to be you! Think of all your qualities and strengths, and all the great skills that make you unique!

2. The shift!

Nothing stays the same forever, and we all have to deal with changes in our lives. Can you think of some big change that you have experienced? That could be your shift. Use that moment as the starting point of your adventure.

3. The quest!

What is a thing that you want to achieve to change your circumstances and grow? If you can’t think of a quest that you are currently on, why not come up with one now? Think of the future and something you would like to achieve.

4. Allies!

Who will help you on your quest? It could be friends, family members, or even a loving pet! Make sure you surround yourself by people you love!

5. A Challenge!

What is the most difficult thing you are facing in your quest to improve your life? Which skill do you need to overcome it? Can you ask for help? Do you need courage or strength? Where can you find what you need?

6. Transformation!

Completing a great quest leaves a protagonist changed forever – they are no longer the person they were when it began! How would YOU like to be transformed? Who is the new you, after the challenge?

7. Legacy!

Once you have completed your quest, you will have something to pass on to those who follow you. What legacy would you want to leave for others? What have your learned that you can share? We hope you feel proud of yourself, like the hero and heroine of your own story. What is the great ending of this legend?

 

The beautiful thing about this exercise is that you can use it again and again in your life, whenever new challenges come in. And every time you can write new chapters, of the most beautiful story of all: your own!

 

Happy New Year to all our lovely readers and writers of legendary tales!

Storytime Issue 112 Out Now!

Santa Gets Kidnapped

 

Giving the Gift of Empathy

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Santa Gets Kidnapped

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Witches Are Wonderful

Witches Are Wonderful

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  1. They make amazing villains!

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

  1. They are smart (usually)!

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

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

  1. They do their own thing!

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

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

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

  1. Witches can be good, too!

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

  1. They are stylish!

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

  1. They like cats!

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

 

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

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

For tickets and details, go to: https://www.bl.uk/events/fantasy-realms-of-imagination

Storytime Issue 111 Out Now!

 

The Magic of Art

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

The Magic of Storytelling

Babbu - The Magic of Storytelling

The Magic of Storytelling by Jane Magnani

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

 

So, what do we mean by storytelling?

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

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

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

 

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

Make It Engaging

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

Add Instruments

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

Create a Reading Corner

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

Follow Their Lead

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

Make a Daily Activity

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

Sensory Stimulation

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

Story Sacks

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

Small World

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

Ask Open-Ended Questions

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

 

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

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

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

 

Credit: Babbu – The Magic of Storytelling by Jane Magnani

 

Book Clubs Are For Curious Kids!

Book Clubs Are For Curious Kids!

 

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

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

 

What is a story club?

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

 

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

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

 

Setting Up a Story Club

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

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

 

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

 

Storytime Issue 110 Out Now!

Issue 110 In praise of animals!

 

In Praise of Animals!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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