Storytime Supports KidsOut Charity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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5 Reasons To Give a Storytime Subscription For Christmas

Give a Storytime Subscription for Christmas

So, we admit that this post is a little biased. However, we genuinely believe that to give a Storytime subscription for Christmas is one of the loveliest and most life-enhancing things you can do for a child.

And there’s still plenty of time to do it! This year (2018), we’re closing our subscription deadline for our special Christmas issue – starring Gingerbread Man – on Friday December 14th. Subscribe before midnight on this date and you’ll get our December issue in plenty of time to wrap and sneak under the tree.

We have a great Christmas subscription offer here.

Alternatively, you can subscribe now and start your subscription in January 2019. If it’s a Christmas present, just give the lucky recipient a gift card to let them know Storytime is coming! We have a gift certificate you can download here.

Now, back to that life-enhancing bit… We’ve got five reasons to back up that bold statement!


Why You Should Give a Storytime Subscription For Christmas

    • 1. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. In the digital age, getting old-fashioned post has never been more exciting. If you’re a child, getting old-fashioned post actually addressed to you is the best thing ever. How to top that? Subscribe to Storytime and your child gets post addressed to them every month for a whole year! Even better, it comes in a beautiful illustrated envelope with loads of gorgeous stories. Think about what your child got for Christmas a year ago. How many gifts are they still enjoying now? It’s a fact – Storytime deliveries result in spontaneous outbreaks of smiles.


    • 2. Storytime offers quality and quantity. Not many products can make that claim. For the price of a subscription, not only do you get a magazine every month, inside every issue, you get heaps of high-quality, educator-approved fun and lively content. You can enjoy seven or eight stories, one or two poems, activities, puzzles, a craft, a game, book recommendations and competitions. Plus we have fabulous free downloads! At 52 pages, we are one of the thickest children’s magazines out there, yet we cost the same as flimsier magazines on the newsstand. Did we mention our paper quality too? Storytime magazine is built to last. It’s a gift you can treasure for years to come.


    • 3. Storytime helps children fall in love with reading. It’s true and we have the research to back it up. A whopping 84.6% of reluctant or struggling readers say they enjoy reading more after receiving Storytime every month. One parent said, “My son’s vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds because we read this magazine together.” But Storytime isn’t just for reluctant or struggling readers – it’s for any child anywhere. Stories no know bounds. They should be shared with readers young and old, beginner or expert. We design our magazine so you can read it to younger children, and then prepare yourself to be blown away when they start reading it to you!


    • 4. Storytime opens up a whole new world to children. Think of Storytime as several great books squeezed between two beautifully designed covers. Like a good book, it will transport your child to places you never thought possible. We pride ourselves on featuring a wide variety of tales in every issue from different cultures and eras. On one page, you might zoom into space, in another you might meet an African warrior. Stick with us for the year of your subscription and you’ll visit at least 30 countries – probably more. And you’ll do it all from the comfort of your armchair. Adventure, travel and magic – all designed to boost reading, build empathy and ignite creativity in your child.


  • 5. Storytime brings families together. This is possibly the most life-enhancing reason to give a Storytime subscription for Christmas! When Storytime arrives, it’s your free pass to cosy up and indulge in stories together. Storytime is you time and there’s no better way to build lasting, happy memories for your child to look back on. Storytime has always been about bringing generations together. This is the magic ingredient that makes stories have the most lasting impact – and the strongest influence on your child’s feelings about reading. If you read happily, then your child is more likely to follow suit. But more than that, reading stories together is just pure lovely.


We think that’s five great reasons to give a Storytime subscription for Christmas and hope you agree!

As we mentioned, we have a great offer on at the moment to make Storytime even more accessible for you. Drop us a line if you have any questions at hello(at)storytimemagazine(dot)com and very best wishes to you!


stories for kids

All-New Storytime Issue 51

Storytime Issue 51, magazine subscriptions for kids, kids magazine subscriptions, Christmas gift subscriptions for kids, Christmas gifts for kids, Perez the MouseWe love bringing you stories from other cultures and Storytime Issue 51 is a shining example of that. Our cover story this month comes from the Spanish author, Luis Coloma. It features Spain’s version of the tooth fairy – an adventurous little mouse called Perez. It’s the first time one of our Around the World Tales has made the cover, but we’re sure it won’t be the last. What better way is there to brighten winter’s gloom than to indulge in some international travel?

Also in Storytime Issue 51, among other wonderful tales, we bring you an African myth, a folk tale from America and a fairy tale from Scandinavia. Find out more about the latest issue of Storytime below and the talent behind each story.


Inside Storytime Issue 51

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Anansi learns a lesson in Storytime Issue 51’s myth from Africa. Art by Julio Antonio Blasco Lopez.

As mentioned above, our myth comes from Africa and features that amazing trickster, Anansi the spider. This time, he’s in the classic story Anansi’s Pot of Wisdom. Julio Antonio Blasco Lopez’s brilliantly quirky illustrations fit the story perfectly and, without giving too much away, kids should appreciate the ending. This month, school and home educator subscribers get a free Anansi Resource Pack with classroom activities and lesson ideas. Find out more here.

Our new fairy-tale series, which is set in Storyland, continues with Jack and the Beanstalk in Jack’s Magic Harp Band. Jack is back in town and he’s excited about performing. However, when he loses his voice, he is forced to hold emergency auditions. If you need a reminder of who lives where in Storyland, download the map here. Storyland’s official illustrator, Giorgia Broseghini, created the gorgeous art for this story and the map.

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A silly sage gets in a spin in our Storytime Issue 51 poem A Tragic Story. Art by Sean Longcroft.

Our poem should make you chuckle, as it’s packed with hair-raising silliness. It tells the story of how a man’s pigtail gets the better of him. A Tragic Story was written by 19th century satirist and Vanity Fair author, William Makepeace Thackeray. Sean Longcroft provides the suitably silly art.

Rosaria Battiloro returns to Storytime to illustrate a sweet American folk tale – Mrs Mumble’s Apple Crumble. (Rosaria previously illustrated an Irish story for Storytime Issue 33.) This story has a delicious ending and an apple crumble recipe to download too!

We don’t just take you around the world in this issue, we also travel in time with a schoolboy called Tyler. It’s a new story from first-time writer and sci-fi fan Alex Evans, with illustrations by Werllen Holanda. We hope you enjoy your trip to the future. It should also provoke some interesting conversations about the tools we use today. Will they still be around in centuries to come?

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Perez the Mouse impresses the king in Storytime Issue 51! Art by Elena Aiello.

We chose our cover story, Perez the Mouse, because we know kids find it mind-boggling that different cultures don’t follow the same traditions. In the UK, we have the tooth fairy, but in Spain (and other Hispanic and European countries, including France), a little mouse takes your baby teeth away. You can find out more about him in the issue and enjoy more of Elena Aiello’s illustrations.

This issue’s Famous Fable, The Woodpecker and the Lion provides an interesting counterpoint to the better-known The Lion and the Mouse (from Storytime Issue 2). Why not read the two fables in one sitting and compare their moral lessons? You could also compare the illustrations. Tihomir Celanovic created this issue’s majestic lion and illustrated King Duck for Storytime Issue 29.

Finally, we round off Storytime Issue 51 with a Favourite Fairy Tale from Scandinavia – The Princess on the Glass Hill. Boots is a familiar character in many Scandi stories. He’s the hard-done-by younger brother who’s usually picked on by older brothers or grossly underestimated by his parents. Boots, as you’d hope, always proves everyone wrong. You can see him surpass expectations in this story wearing a suit of golden armour, no less. Emanuela di Donna’s illustrations are lots of fun too.


As well as our stories, you’ll find story-linked puzzles, a memory test, a mousey make, hairy drawing, a game and a competition. You can also win three musical books from Quarto, which are perfect for Christmas. Enter here for a chance to win.

Speaking of which, if you like Storytime Issue 51, then you’ll LOVE our Christmas issue. It features Gingerbread Man, Santa, Christmas pudding, magical farm animals, Christmas trees, Brer Rabbit and more. If you’re considering getting someone a Christmas gift subscription, make sure you do so by November 27. That way, the issue will reach them (or you) on time. After that point, you can buy it from our Back Issue Shop and get it in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, let us know if Perez the Mouse visits you this month! Happy reading,


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Illustrator Interview: Marko Renko

Illustrator Interview with Marko Renko, Marko Renko, Storytime magazine, storytime, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kidsOur readers have been pretty wowed this month by our stunning Storytime 50th Issue cover for the marvellous and magical folk tale, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. All credit for this striking illustration goes to the amazing Marko Renko who is based in Ljubljana in Slovenia.

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Marko’s illustration for Stanley and the Rampaging Robot, Storytime 32.

Long-time subscribers might recognise Marko Renko’s work, as he’s illustrated for us before. He created the artwork for Stanley and the Rampaging Robot – a new story in Storytime Issue 32 by Stan Byford. Marko’s exquisite attention to detail and use of colour for this story just blew us away and we knew we had to work with him again. Luckily, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice felt like just the right story and, even better, it was for a very special issue.

We were very grateful that Marko took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. We hope you find lots of inspiration here!

Illustrator Interview with Marko Renko


1. How did you get started in illustration? Have you always been arty?

Yes, I think I have always been arty. At least my school books and tables were always full of doodles and cartoons. When the school subject was boring to me, I started doodling and the canvas was whatever was available at hand. The teachers were not always happy about that. Drawing was always one of my favorite things to do. So the career kind of just happened.


2. Do you have any favourite artists or illustrators who have influenced your work and why?

There are so many. Every time I go online I feel bombarded by inspiration from people all over the world. Sometimes I get inspired by an old masters painting, other times by a quick sketch from someone on social media. To just point out a few at the top of my list: Jonny Duddle, Robb Mommaerts, Mike Bear, Goro Fujita and Daisuke Tsutsumi. One of the biggest influencers on me as a kid, was the Slovenian comic-book artist and illustrator Miki Muster. He was just a wonderfull artist and storyteller. As I get older, I try to get the most inspiration from nature itself. The world and things in it will never let you down on inspiration.


3. What’s your favourite place to draw?

As I mentioned above, I feel that everything around us can be interpreted as a beautiful piece of art, but my favourite places are usually somewhere beyond the city and concrete walls. I’m always drawn to natural and organic motifs. Maybe it has something to do with me growing up in a woody, rural area. So my idyllic place to draw would probably be a small cottage near some hills, trees and creeks.


4. What’s your favourite fairy tale or children’s book. Is there one you’d love to illustrate?

I love adventure, magic and fantasy, so I like a lot of old fairy-tale classics. One of my favourite stories as a kid was definitely Robin Hood. I loved spending my afternoons running around the woods and climbing trees with my brother – making tree houses and chasing down imaginary villains. So some day, I would love to illustrate a story along those lines. A mysterious adventure somewhere in an ancient forest.

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A stunning illustration from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Marko Renko in Storytime Issue 50.


5. We’ve been so lucky to work with you on Stanley and the Rampaging Robot and now The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. How do you go about creating your characters?

First I read the story a couple of times. I need to meet the character and get to know them. I try to imagine what they are thinking, where they come from and what is their back story. Based on this, I try to visualise how they look. Sometimes I go online and search for inspiration there. Sometimes a someone you know can be an inspiration. The great Glen Keane‚ a character artist and animator‚ said that you are not inventing a character but searching for it. So it usually takes a lot of drawings, but when you find the one you know.


6. Are there any projects you’re working on you can tell us about?

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a couple of children’s books that can be personalised. You can name your hero or heroine and choose how will they look in the book. So every book that is made, is one of a kind.

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One of Marko’s continuing projects.


7. Is there any work from the past that makes you particularly proud?

I’ve worked on a couple of different projects, but my favourites are children’s stories and books. I think my favourite to date is a book about pirates and magical pearls. I’ve always been a sucker for pirates so drawing those buccaneers was a real blast.

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An awesome pirate adventure, illustrated by Marko in his meticulous style.


8. What’s your preferred creative medium and why?

I have no preferred medium. I love them all. Nowadays, digital is almost a must in a professional and commercial world. It’s the most practical. But then there are gouache and watercolors for those Sunday hikes and outdoor painting. Pencil and ink for cold and cozs autumn afternoons. And there is always that fun, adventurous feeling of experimenting with a completely new medium.


9. Are there any different areas you’d like to explore in the future?

My dream for a while has been to try writing. I’ve always wanted to illustrate my own stories. And I’ve never done anything in self publishing, so I’d like to try that someday. There is something special in being free to write and draw whatever you want. Of course, I imagine it is quite challenging too, but that can be a good thing.


10. Is there any advice you can give to children (or aspiring illustrators) who want to get into illustration?

Have fun and love what you do. It takes a lot of work to always improve, so you really need to love it to get through those rough times. But I strongly believe if you love it enough, you will work on it enough to get better. And sooner or later people will find your art and they’ll want to buy it. Also, don’t forget it takes time. Not weeks and months, but years and decades. So don’t rush it, just enjoy it!


Sage words for any illustrator’s apprentices out there! If you’d like to see more of Marko Renko’s work, particularly his nature drawings, be sure to follow his Instagram account, which is a real treat. And if you’d like to find out more about our rather special 50th issue, click here or head straight over to our Back Issue Shop and grab a copy before they’re magicked away!


See you next time for more story inspiration,


stories for kids

50 Stories to Read Before You’re 10

50 Stories to Read Before You're 10, Storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, UK's only story magazine, best stories for kidsTo celebrate our 50th Storytime issue, we’re not only running an awesome 50-Word Story writing competition for kids (find out more here), we’ve also put together a definitive guide, which reveals the ultimate library of 50 stories to read before you’re 10. The shortlist comprises folk tales, fairy tales, myths, legends, fables, and stories from around the world.

We selected these 50 stories from over 350 tales we’ve published in Storytime in the last four years. They made the cut for a number of reasons. Some are classics or come with great moral lessons. Others are packed with subtle but clever devices that aid early literacy skills, such as repetition, rhythm, interesting vocabulary or inspiring characters. Several teach children about different cultures, and some are just funny. (Never underestimate the power of funny stories.) In short, they’re all fantastic stories – the kind you’ll remember and cherish forever.

Our full guide is divided into different types of stories, from fairy tales to myths and legends, and comes with a brief explanation for why we’ve carefully considered and chosen each story. You can download it here.

If you’ve missed any of these 50 stories in our Storytime issues, the list below shows you what issue they appeared in with a handy link to our Back Issue Shop. We hope you enjoy our selection and take on the challenge to read them to or with your child before they turn 10. Even better, ask them to read all 50 stories to you!



Top 10 Fairy Tales

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1. Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Storytime Issue 1 and a new version in Issue 49

2. Cinderella – Storytime Issue 3

3. Hansel and Gretel – Storytime Issue 13

4. Jack and the Beanstalk – Storytime Issue 5

5. Jack the Giant Killer – Storytime Issue 45

6. Three Little Pigs – Storytime Issue 6

7. The Three Billy Goats Gruff – Storytime Issue 10

8. Little Red Hen – Storytime Issue 47

9. The Emperor’s New Clothes – Storytime Issue 30

10. The Gingerbread Man – Storytime Issue 2

Top 10 Fables

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1. The Tortoise and the Hare – Storytime Issue 1

2. The Lion and the Mouse – Storytime Issue 2

3. The Dog and his Bone – Storytime Issue 3

4. The Four Harmonious Animals – Storytime Issue 4

5. The Wind and the Sun – Storytime Issue 12

6. The Boy Who Cried Wolf – Storytime Issue 14

7. The Blind Friends and the Elephant – Storytime Issue 16

8. The Crow and the Pitcher – Storytime Issue 19

9. The Goat and the Fox – Storytime Issue 30

10. Little Mouse Makes Friends – Storytime Issue 42

Top 10 Myths and Legends

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1. The Midas Touch – Storytime Issue 8

2. Hercules and the Lion – Storytime Issue 24

3. Pegasus the Winged Horse – Storytime Issue 32

4. Thor’s Stolen Hammer – Storytime Issue 3

5. Finn MacCool – Storytime Issue 7

6. The Sword in the Stone – Storytime Issue 13

7. Robin Hood and the Silver Arrow – Storytime Issue 9

8. Cupid and Psyche – Storytime Issue 17

9. White Buffalo Calf Woman – Storytime Issue 34

10. Ganesha the Elephant God – Storytime Issue 25

Top 10 Folk Tales

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1. Lazy Jack – Storytime Issue 9

2. Stone Soup – Storytime Issue 11

3. The Wish Fish – Storytime Issue 17

4. The Clever Carpenter – Storytime Issue 43

5. The Three Wishes – Storytime Issue 3

6. Elidor and the Golden Ball – Storytime Issue 30

7. Half a Blanket – Storytime Issue 33

8. The Farmer and the Boggart – Storytime Issue 8

9. Jack and the Leprechaun – Storytime Issue 31

10. The Green Children of Woolpit – Storytime Issue 26

Top 10 Around the World Tales

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1. Anansi and the Turtle – Storytime Issue 4

2. The Rainbow Snake – Storytime Issue 5

3. The Mouse Merchant – Storytime Issue 8

4. The Polar Bear Son – Storytime Issue 16

5. Wolf Lullaby – Storytime Issue 25

6. The Four Dragons – Storytime Issue 10

7. Nana Miriam and the Hippo – Storytime Issue 34

8. The Bear and the Trolls – Storytime Issue 27

9. Zuleika’s Gift- Storytime Issue 47

10. The Flower and the Hummingbird – Storytime Issue 38


Of course, we promise you many more fantastic stories to come. Bedtime stories, educational stories, cuddle-up stories, circle-time stories, stories to share with classmates and friends. Stories to make you think, help you escape, ignite your imagination, give you a new understanding of the world around you, empower you, enable you or change you. At Storytime, we believe that stories have that power.

Make sure you download our full 50 Stories to Read Before You’re 10 pack and enjoy ticking them off as you read them.

Happy reading as always,


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Storytime Issue 50 Is Out Now!

kids magazine subscriptions, Storytime Issue 50 is out now, storytime, 50 word story competition, kids writing competition, gift subscriptions for kids, kids magazine subscriptionsThis month we’re celebrating a landmark issue. Yes, we made it to the half-century! Storytime Issue 50 is out now and it’s a magical medley of stories and poems, just perfect for October. As you can see from above, we’ve got wizards, pumpkins, adventure and so much more.

50-word story competition, storytime issue 50, storytime, kids writing competition, kids magazine subscriptionsPlus to celebrate reaching this milestone issue, we’ve launched an amazing 50-word story competition for writers aged 3 to 9. The winner will have his or her story published in Storytime and bag a bundle of all 50 Storytime issues. You can find out more about our 50-word story competition here. And make sure you download our pack. It has lots of activities to help you master writing super-short stories. It’s also perfect for use in the classroom or at home.

For now, back to our 50th issue and the wonderful contributors who helped us create it. As ever, we are extremely grateful and eager to showcase their talents. Please check out their portfolios and heap them with praise. Here’s more about the stories we’ve conjured up for you in Storytime Issue 50.

Inside Storytime Issue 50

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From Alphabet Boo – a Halloween poem illustrated by Tim Budgen in Storytime Issue 50.

We open the issue with our homage to Halloween trick-or-treaters. Fans of Tim Budgen, who provided the artwork for our Alphabet Zoo series, will be delighted that he’s back with Alphabet Boo. It features a parade of Halloween characters and is 100% treat. (Incidentally, you can still download our free Alphabet Zoo Animal Activity Packs here!)

Our Storyland Adventures continue and, this month, everyone in Storyland is excited about Cinderella’s Pumpkin Party. It’s all set to be even better than the ball, until Fairy Godmother turns up with a bad cold. The incredible illustrations are by our regular contributor Giorgia Broseghini. If you haven’t downloaded our beautiful Storyland Adventures map yet, make sure you do.

Storytime Issue 50’s Around the World Tale comes from faraway Papua New Guinea and explains the origins of morning dew. Tears of a Star is an origin story, which will make you look at dew differently. It’s illustrated by Astrid de Souris, who we’ve been lucky to work with before too.

Jumping to present day, Team Small and Tall is a new story from writer Chris James. It’s set in school and features an exciting basketball game. It demonstrates how you can achieve anything if you work together as a team. Most importantly, it shows children that sometimes their weaknesses are actually their strengths. We think Serena Lombardo‘s energetic illustrations will make you smile.

Our cover story in Storytime Issue 50 is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It’s a story that started life in Ancient Greece, but was popularised in a poem by Goethe in the late 18th century. There are versions of it all over the world, so its magic has spread far and wide. You might know it best as the Disney animation, Fantasia, starring Mickey Mouse. We hope you enjoy our version and are as captivated as we are by the illustrations by Marko Renko.

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Emma Levey’s illustration for The Battles of the Birds and the Beasts in Storytime Issue 50

Most fables focus on sharing morals about human behaviour. Rarely, they combine a moral with explaining how the world came to be as it is. Storytime Issue 50’s The Battle of the Birds and the Beasts does just that, delivered in a short but sweet package. Bat fans will find it interesting and kids will love Emma Levey‘s illustrations and spotting all the animals.

Diwali celebrations are almost upon us and Indian legend Rama and Sita is one of the great stories to share at this time of year. With a spectacular baddie, an epic adventure and a candlelit ending, it’s a story that transcends cultures and has wide appeal. School subscribers can download our free teaching resource pack to accompany this story. Find out more at Storytime for Schools. Bhumika Jangid from India provided the stunning illustrations for this story.

Finally, we close the issue with The Pied Piper of Hamelin. It’s a story that some might hesitate to share, remembering darker versions from the past. Yes, the Pied Piper is an odd fellow, but it’s the town’s mayor who’s the real villain in this story. Plus, it’s refreshing that the heroine is a child who is able to be heroic because of her hearing impairment. All in all, it’s a great story and we hope you like our friendlier version. It comes with lovely illustrations by Benedetta Capriotti.


As you can see Storytime Issue 50 is jam-packed with stories and a poem, as well as activities, book recommendations and our 50-word story competition! You definitely don’t want to miss it – and we can’t wait to see your competition entries.

Be sure to pop back here in the next few weeks, as we have lots of great content coming up, including 50 Stories to Read Before You’re 10 and an interview with our cover illustrator, Marko Renko.


Here’s to another 50 issues!


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Stories to Help School Children

stories to help school children, magazine subscriptions for kids, kids magazine subscriptions, gift subscriptions for kidsOne reason stories are so special is because they can address tricky subjects, from moral dilemmas to more serious life challenges, in a creative and ‘cushioned’ way. This is true for adults and children, but there are many powerful stories to help school children in particular.

Mo and the Jumping Jelly – Sara Osman’s Tale from Today in Storytime Issue 49 – addresses an issue that might seem trifling but can be a big deal when you’re starting school. We’re talking school dinners. An unfamiliar system with queues and choices and people you don’t know! Strange foods you’ve never tasted before! Table manners! To some school starters, lunchtime can be daunting and can cause a lot of stress and tears. Some children are so petrified by it, they insist on packed lunches, and we know that some refuse to eat at all.

Mo and the Jumping Jelly is one of several stories for school we’ve published and it tries to address this issue. It shows the benefits of trying new foods and attributes funny but positive qualities to different dishes – jelly for energy, broccoli for brains, and so on. It also gently demonstrates why it’s never a good idea to miss lunch completely. (The wonderful illustration above is by Gaby Zermeno)

We’ve had a lot of positive comments from parents about this story and we’re happy that it has been helpful. This inspired us to pull together a selection of stories to help school children and parents face other dilemmas. Dip in and out as and when you need them!

5 Stories to Help School Children


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Different is good in Eszter Molnar’s Pencil Sharpener story for Storytime Issue 35. Art by Jess Pauwels.

1. For children who worry about being different. Different is good and there’s no better story to get this across than the lovely I Want to Be a Pencil Sharpener by Eszter Molnar in Storytime Issue 35. It’s school dress-up day, and Daisy’s refusal to conform is initially met with dissent by her classmates – but not for long!

2. For children who don’t like working as a team. There’s a lot of teamwork in school, and that can cause frustration, but it can also lead to huge triumphs. There are two great stories you can share with your children to express the advantages of learning to work as a team. The fable, The Four Harmonious Animals, which we published in Storytime Issue 4, and the enduring classic, The Enormous Turnip, which appeared in Storytime Issue 29. We have another great teamwork story coming up in Storytime Issue 50 called Team Small and Tall, so keep an eye out for that too.

3. For children who lack confidence in their own abilities. In Storytime Issue 37′s story Miss Beck’s Spectacular Specs by Amanda Brandon, the tables are turned. It’s a teacher who relies on the help and ingenuity of her class to get her out of a scrape. Children have amazing minds and this story will help assure them of that fact.

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The Blind Friends and the Elephant – the perfect story for building empathy in Storytime Issue 16 – with art by Alice Brereton.

4. For children who refuse to see anyone else’s point of view. Trying to see arguments from other perspectives is a big learning curve for children. It’s one they’re thrown into as soon as they start school, when they encounter children from different backgrounds and beliefs. However, it’s a key life skill and one of the main building blocks of empathy. For a story that sums up the value of sharing other peoples’ perspectives, you can’t beat The Blind Friends and the Elephant. It’s a fable from Storytime Issue 16 and it’s pretty funny too.

5. For children who hate homework. Homework is tough when you’re little. With SATs, it only gets more intense as you move up through school. How do you encourage your child to keep at it even when they’re tired or bored? Try reading The Little Red Hen from Storytime Issue 47 or The Ant and the Grasshopper from Storytime Issue 8. Both feature main characters who put in the work even when they’d rather have help or do nothing. Both characters reap the rewards at the end and get results that make them feel proud.


Hopefully, these stories can help make your life a little easier and be helpful to children too. Sometimes, when nagging or constant reassuring doesn’t work, deploying a story can be just the thing you need. We’ll definitely include more stories to help school children in future issues. If you have any thoughts on dilemmas we can address, let us know via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


Wishing you a dilemma-free week,


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Storytime’s Animal Poetry Challenge

Animal Poetry Challenge, Storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions, gift subscriptions for kids, educational magazines, children's poetry, kids poetryStorytime Issue 49 features a rather wonderful short poem by Victorian nursery rhyme writer William Brighty Rands called The Cat of Cats, which is illustrated by MacKenzie Haley with the most gorgeous colour palette. Aside from the fact that so many of our young readers love cats, we chose this particular cat poem for a number of reasons:

  • It’s short enough to memorise, therefore it’s great to learn off by heart at home and in school.
  • The poet perfectly expresses the arrogant, superior attitude of the cat species in very few words – “I am the cat of cats. I am the everlasting cat!”
  • It has a brilliant cat simile, which we couldn’t resist: “sleek as jam”
  • It succinctly describes how cats behave at night.
  • The poem features repetition, and we know that kids love repetition (read more about that here).
  • We knew it would inspire a fabulous illustration and it has!

All in all, it’s a fun and easy poem to learn, and it’s an inspiring starting point for children to have a go at our animal poetry challenge. Using this poem as a base, they can write their own 8-line poems about cats or their favourite animals or pets. All you have to do is follow the formula William Brighty Rands used, which you can do in three easy steps…

The Animal Poetry Challenge in 3 Steps


1.Swap the repeated line “The everlasting cat” with one that reflects the personality of your own animal.
2.Use a great simile to describe the way your animal moves or behaves.
3.Think up two lines to describe what the animal does well.

That’s it! Put it all together and you’re well on the way to a fantastic poem. Don’t get hung up on rhyming – not all poetry has to rhyme. Here’s a quick example of how you can adapt the poem to other animals:


The Dog of Dogs

I am the dog of dogs, I brag –
The obedient dog!
Faithful, old, keen as a tail-wag,
The obedient dog!

I guard the house day and night –
The obedient dog!
For I can bark and I can bite –
The obedient dog!

How does the feel of the poem and how do the words change if you write about a fish, a bird or a snake?


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Use our Poetry Writing Pack to complete our Animal Poetry Challenge!

This week, have a go at writing your own Brighty Rands-inspired animal poems at home or in school. Download our Poetry Sheet to write on. Alternatively, check out our full Poetry Writing Pack on our Schools site for more guidance and loads of great tips on how to get started with writing poetry. With National Poetry Day on October 4th, now is the perfect time for children to give our animal poetry challenge a go!


We’d love to see how you do, so please share them with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – or drop us a line at and we’ll share the best!


Happy writing all!


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Reading Buddies with Storytime – Join the Fun!

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Today, we’re excited to launch our Storytime Reading Buddies Scheme, which is free to schools everywhere and you can get it here.

What is a reading buddy? A reading buddy is quite simply someone who will sit and read to a child who isn’t quite ready for reading alone – a reading mentor, if you like. The child could be an an early reader or struggling with reading or daunted by it. Let’s face it, nobody is born with the ability to read.Without a reading buddy in some form, mastering letters, sounds, words and sentence structures would have been so much harder to achieve. Having a reading buddy is a huge boon to reading success. In fact, there’s solid research to support the idea that peer-to-peer reading (i.e. reading buddies) among school pupils is especially effective.


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Reading Buddies Can Be…

  • An older pupil or sibling
  • A parent or carer
  • A grandparent
  • A teacher, teaching assistant or librarian
  • A reading volunteer, such as from the wonderful reading charity, Beanstalk
  • Or even a younger sibling reading to an older sibling


In our Storytime Reading Buddies Scheme pack, the focus is on encouraging older pupils to read to younger pupils in a school setting. However, it has applications beyond school. There’s no reason why you can’t use it at home too, for instance. Our pack has been developed with valuable input from headteachers and KS1 and KS2 English leads. It can be used with your Storytime magazine collection or books. Alternatively, use whatever reading material you think is best to engage an early, reluctant or struggling reader.

The pack comes with tips for setting up a Reading Buddies Scheme (for both teachers and older pupils), as well as printable progress cards, badges and certificates. Plus activities for the end of each session. And it’s all completely free!

The benefits of paired or peer-to-peer reading are wide-ranging and long-lasting – and sometimes unexpected in a positive way. To find out exactly how Storytime Reading Buddies Scheme can have a positive impact on young readers in your school or at home, nip over to our Storytime for Schools website to find out more.

For more ideas on spicing up reading sessions at school or home, also check out 5 Reading Styles That Really Work and discover how to get the best from Shared Reading too.


Make sure you buddy up with someone this week!


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Illustrator Interview with Giorgia Broseghini

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The highlight of our latest issue (Storytime 49) is a brand new story series called Storyland Adventures. It’s set in a fictional world and stars everyone’s favourite fairy-tale characters – from Puss in Boots and the Gingerbread Man to Goldilocks and Jack and the Beanstalk. Developing a whole new world like this is fairly mind-boggling and time-consuming, so it was a blessing that we had a clear idea of which illustrator we wanted to bring it to life from the start: Giorgia Broseghini. It was a huge cause for celebration when she agreed to come on board.

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Giorgia’s illustration for White Buffalo Calf Woman in Storytime Issue 34

We first worked with super-talented Giorgia on the Native American legend, White Buffalo Calf Woman, in Storytime Issue 34. We were so blown away by her beautiful depiction of the characters and use of colours, we couldn’t wait to work with her again. Luckily, We were able to do so on last year’s gorgeous Christmas issue (Storytime 40), when Giorgia provided the cover and illustrations for Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, A Visit from St Nicholas.

Now she’s taking on the challenge of monthly illustrations for our new fairy-tale world, which puts famous faces in entirely different situations. Giorgia even created a beautiful map of Storyland for us (see below). You just can’t beat stories that come with a map to pore over! We really hope you are enjoying the first story, featuring Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There’s also a whole cast of supporting characters including Hansel, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and the Big Bad Wolf.

We caught up with Giorgia to find out more about her career so far and her inspirations.

Illustrator Interview with Giorgia Broseghini


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Santa’s on his way in Storytime 40’s A Visit from St Nicholas, illustrated by Giorgia.

1. How did you get started in illustration?

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been drawing: on the couch, on the carpet, on the bus, at school, at home, at the restaurant. One of my most vivid memories is watching an old lady painting flowers. I was on vacation with my family and every night she was standing there. I could watch her for hours. Most of my birthday gifts were related to art and my favourite was the coloured pencils I got for Christmas. They became my favourite tool to draw. But I didn’t know what illustration was and even though I was passionate about art, I didn’t pursue it until after my bachelor degree in philosophy. I didn’t believe drawing could be a job!

One summer I found a digital art school named Nemo, based in Florence, with a very professional program. I still can’t believe I talked my parents into it, but I am grateful I succeeded! It was a life-changing experience. I learned a lot about the illustration world – about techniques, composition, tools, illustrators – and I had the honour to learn from the best. Also, I met super-arty and nerdy people, and I lived in one of the most beautiful Italian towns. I’ve been working as an illustrator for four years. Even though it was hard at the beginning, I’m glad I never gave up.


2. What or who is your biggest inspiration?

Disney, anime and movies have a great impact to my style. I love artists like Klimt and Mucha – decorative styles have always been my favourite. I really like illustrators and artists that play with soft and clear shapes. But it is very hard to say which one is my favourite, since I go through different phases. Every day I find a new illustrator or artist I love. The list could go on forever. I can name a few such as Norman Rockwell, Loish, Julia Sarda, Annette Marnat, Brittney Lee, Lorena Alvarez Gomez (who illustrated our Storytime Issue 15 Christmas cover and story – Ed), Glen Keane and Carter Goodrich. Studying character design, I also got used to observing real life, people, situations and colours. When I don’t know what to draw, I just rely on nature and funny people.


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A sneak peek of Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother, coming up in Storytime Issue 50.

3. What has been your process for creating new versions of the famous fairy-tale characters in Storyland Adventures?

Every time I have to create a new character, I start with research. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest trying to understand what a character looks like to other artists, and what he or she could wear. I look for outfits and hairstyles, colour palettes and moods. This helps me collect ideas. Then comes my favourite part: the sketch phase. Even though digital painting is my favourite tool, I love sketching. I feel free to try a lot of different characters and I can do it wherever I like. Always, I keep drawing and trying (maybe sipping a milkshake or a coffee in my fave café) and every sketch has something new. Sometimes it takes a while to find my character.

I found Goldilocks waiting for my dinner while I was in Rome. Cinderella travelled with me during my vacations. Once I have nailed every character, I put them into their situations. I draw many thumbnails and try different compositions. When I know what the illustrations will look like in rough, I go to my computer and start finalising it. The colouring part is pretty much the same. I always try a few palettes before going to final. I really like playing with hues and values. At a certain point it looks like, “This is it.”


4. How do you stay on top of your busy workload? Do you have any top tips for illustrators on staying creative, inspired and on schedule?

I keep a monthly paper calendar (that I draw on) and a list of the things I have to do. Writing it down instead of using devices is more helpful, at least for me. The exercise of writing helps me focus. I write everything in pencil and move things around when needed, and I tend to separate days into mornings, afternoons and evenings. I fill my little square boxes with goals, which I love to highlight with a bright colour once they’re done. When I have lots of projects I also force myself to wake up really early, and I plan my breaks and stick to them.

I have my rituals, such as going out for a coffee after lunch or taking a walk, and I don’t give them up. I think it is very important, even when you’re stressed and a deadline looks like a hungry bad wolf, not to give up breaks (especially if you have to work 10/12 hours a day – a 20-minute nap is precious). These little tricks help me through. And if I am struggling with creativity, I go back to my sketchbook and try to find the joy of drawing again. It is normal to have hard times now and then – a job is a job. It isn’t always easy to stay focused, inspired and excited, but everyone has to find their own way to deal with those moments.


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An image from The Three Little Pigs, illustrated by Giorgia for Piemme, Mondadori.

5. Are there any favourite or interesting projects you’ve worked on that you can tell us about?

Well, the project with Storytime magazine is one of the most interesting I have had the pleasure to work on. I can’t wait to see what will come next. Another awesome project I illustrated this year is a new version of the Three Little Pigs for Edizioni Piemme, Mondadori (fairy tales, twist and turns: lovely!). I loved that project because I loved how I felt when I was drawing it! Fairy tales makes my imagination fly and I felt incredibly free drawing it. Every page was a surprise and a joy.


6. What would be your dream subject to illustrate and why?

I think my dream subject may be Harry Potter! But I’d also really like to draw The Little Mermaid. I can’t say the original fairy tale is my favourite. It is pretty sad and also bloody, but I love the Disney adaptation of it. Mermaids are my fave subject since that movie came out – the water, hair, movement, colours. I have tried many times to start a personal project on her, but I got stuck or was too busy. Who knows – maybe the Storyland Adventures will feature her, too? (It’s a possibility! Ed)


7. So, is The Little Mermaid your favourite fairy-tale character?

No, I think I have to make a clear distinction between who I’d like to draw and who I like as a character. I’d love to draw the little mermaid, but she’s not my ideal
character. My relationship with fairy tales is influenced a lot by Disney. When I read the original story, I tend to dislike it. The only character I really like is the Beast because he changes. We learn he’s capable of love and caring. He makes a journey into himself and he’s able to be the best he can be. I think this is a goal
everyone should have. (You can see Giorgia’s interpretation of Beast in our first two Storyland stories and there’ll be more Beast to follow! Ed.)

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Giorgia’s amazing Storyland map for Storytime Issue 49. See the full map with key in the issue!


8. Is there any advice you can give to aspiring illustrators, young and old?

Just draw, be patient and be curious about things. Let yourself be amazed by things even when others think it is stupid or childish. Be humble and accept advice, but also be proud of your work and your improvements. If you’re passionate enough and if you study hard enough, you can draw. Someone might say that you have talent, but talent is like a flower – it blossoms and lives if you take care of it.


We’re loving the top tips for creative organisation, especially being strict about taking breaks – though we’re absolutely dreadful at following this advice, so promise to try harder in future.

Make sure you check out Giorgia’s portfolio on Behance and Facebook, and don’t miss her work in Storytime. In coming months, you have much to look forward to, including Cinderella’s Pumpkin Party, Jack and the Beanstalk’s rock band, Gingerbread Man on a mission for Santa, and Puss in Boots meeting a scary troll!


Stay inspired, folks!


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