Storytime Issue 49: A Celebration

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We’re even more excited than usual this month. The next two issues of Storytime are huge milestones for us. Firstly, Storytime Issue 49, which is out now, marks Storytime magazine’s fourth anniversary. Four years of stories and incredible illustrations! We’re beyond delighted. Also, our 50th issue is hot on its heels, coming in October. As a result, we’re celebrating with an amazing competition for young writers. (More on that here.)

First things first, let’s celebrate reaching our fourth birthday, which is no mean feat for a small, independent publisher.

We decided to mark the occasion with a new story strand. One that would fulfil our readers’ desire to see more of their favourite fairy-tale characters, but would also be fun for young readers. We hope it will help make the transition into the school routine and regular reading a little easier and more enjoyable too.

New in Storytime Issue 49

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Goldilocks opens her new café in Storytime Issue 49, with a little help from Hansel. Art by Giorgia Broseghini.

Our new story series is called Storyland Adventures and is set in a magical, fictional world inhabited by all your favourite heroes, heroines and animals. Think Puss in Boots, the Gingerbread Man, Jack, Cinderella and many more! It opens with a story featuring Goldilocks and the Three Bears. They meet at the opening of Goldilocks’ brand new café, and it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since she sneaked into their house and caused havoc.

We’re extremely fortunate to be working with illustrator Giorgia Broseghini to develop Storyland’s huge cast of characters and she has even created a stunning map of Storyland. You can admire it here and see it in full in our issue too. We hope you like her cover for Storytime Issue 49 and enjoy getting fully immersed in Storyland in coming issues. There’s a lot to look forward to.

As with all Storytime issues, there’s so much more inside our latest magazine. We take a closer look at our other stories and contributors here.

Inside Storytime Issue 49

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The King and the Moon – an Around the World Tale illustrated by Gary Boller.

We kick off with a story from the Dominican Republic called The King and the Moon, which Gary Boller illustrated with great humour. What’s interesting about this tale from the Dominican Republic is that it has never had a king, yet it produced this fantastically funny story about a king who thinks he can have it all. Even the moon.

Cat lovers will appreciate our poem, The Cat of Cats by William Brighty Rands. It’s an ode to night-stalking felines everywhere. Our illustration with a built-in picture puzzle is by all-round cool cat MacKenzie Haley.

For fans of our Myths and Legends section, we have a Greek classic – The Trojan Horse. School teachers, make sure you download and use our Trojan Horse Resource Pack, which is free for all school subscribers. It comes with loads of lesson ideas and themed activities. Find out more at our Schools website. Valeria Abatzoglu provides the awesome illustrations for this myth.

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Buddha appears as Delightful the Bull in Storytime Issue 49, illustrated by Valeria Abatzoglu.

Our Famous Fable is from India, starring Buddha in the guise of Delightful the Bull. There’s a lovely moral about treating others with respect and we’re so pleased with the illustrations by Raitan Ohi.

School dinners can be a huge hurdle for young children, so we commissioned our Tale from Today with this in mind. Hopefully, Mo and the Jumping Jelly by Sara Osman will help readers who are struggling with eating in the school canteen (and their parents too). It is expertly illustrated by Gaby Zermeno, who previously illustrated our Pumpkin Jack poem in Storytime Issue 14. You can pick up this issue from our shop.

We hope Hans Christian Andersen fans will enjoy our version of his fairy tale, The Magic Tinderbox. It features marvellous large-eyed dogs illustrated by Davide Ortu. You might recognise Davide’s illustrations from Storytime Issue 40’s fairy tale about frost fairies. (This is also available from our shop.)

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Laura Wood’s illustration for The Clever Cook ‚Äì a funny tale from the Brothers Grimm.

Finally, our Storyteller’s Corner folk tale will give you food for thought. It certainly gives the cheeky but quick-thinking protagonist food in her belly. The Clever Cook was originally collected by the Brothers Grimm and has been revised here for a younger readership. We can’t help admiring the naughty heroine. What do you think? We love the illustrations by Laura Wood.


Furthermore, we’ve crammed in extra activities including drawing, origami, a maze, puzzles and our new book recommendations. You can win copies here.

Over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we’re asking our readers some questions about fairy tales to tie in with our new Storyland Adventures strand. We’d love to hear your thoughts on your favourite characters, locations and elements from the world of fairy tales, so let us know.

We hope you enjoy the new story strand and wish you all the best with back to school. Have a great month and check back here for illustrator interviews, free downloads and more in coming weeks!

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 48 – Dive In!

kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids, storytime issue 48, narwhal storiesThe summer holidays are well underway here in the UK, so we thought we’d celebrate summer with all-new Storytime Issue 48. In this exciting new issue, you can cool down by diving into the ocean with narwhals, catch the sun, share a shadow and even build a sandcastle. Plus there are many more wonderful stories, poems and activities inside. We’ve even got a narwhal game for you!

We hope you enjoy the super summery theme and that it helps keep your Storytime sessions alive over the holidays. It’s a subject we’ve touched on before, but away from school, many families let reading slide over summer and reading skills then regress by the start of the new term.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to keep reading fun. Don’t turn it into a chore or a bore (“you can only go out and play after you’ve done some reading”), instead make it something to look forward to – a reward at the end of the day or for tidying a room. See 20 Great Places to Read this Summer for some ideas. Give reading positive associations and your children will want to do it all year round.

We think Storytime Issue 48 has just enough fun and adventure to keep them engaged and inspired. Who can resist a story about four little children sailing around the world? Here’s what’s inside our summer issue along with links to our highly valued and brilliant contributors.

Inside Storytime Issue 48

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A poem about building sandcastles in Storytime Issue 48, illustrated by Fiona Dulieu.

We open the issue with an ode to building sandcastles, gorgeously illustrated by Fiona Dulieu. If this doesn’t make you hanker after a trip to the beach with buckets and spades, then we don’t know what will. If you can’t get there, make a sandcastle card in our Storytime Playbox section instead.

Next, we dive into the Arctic with Harry the Narwhal and his family. What are narwhal tusks for? They’re more useful than you think, as you’ll find out in this debut story from writer Flo Davis. It’s illustrated by Martuka, who we are so lucky to work with again. (Martuka also illustrated The Little Mermaid for us in Storytime Issue 24.)

Things heat up in our myth from Polynesia and New Zealand, which follows demigod Maui as he decides to force the sun to slow down. Catching and taming the sun isn’t as easy as it looks, however. Our sizzling illustrations for this superhero story were created by Alberto Badalamenti.

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Edward Lear’s fabulous tale about four little children sailing around the world in Storytime Issue 48. Illustrated by Alejandro Mesa.

Our Favourite Fairy Tale in Storytime Issue 48 was penned by lord of the limerick, Edward Lear. It features Four Little Children Who Went Round the World, and is full of quirky details, weird creatures and perilous moments. It also comes with custard-loving mice and chocolate drops! Kids will love the story and the illustrations too, which are by Alejandro Mesa.

The Tug of War is a tale from Africa and it stars one of the continent’s favourite tricksters, the hare. He outwits two of the continent’s biggest beasts in a battle of wit and strength. It’s a great story with action-packed illustrations by Gerardo Baro. (Discover the cool lessons you can learn from Trickster Tales here.)

Soaring into the issue is our second poem, The Eagle by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It’s a short poem, but it packs a lot of punch. It’s a mini masterclass in writing poetry and is often used in primary schools. Our illustration is by Stephanie Fizer-Coleman, who is the perfect fit. If you haven’t ogled her 100 Birds project yet, we highly recommend it!

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Melusine’s Mystery ‚Äì a folk tale in Storytime Issue 48, illustrated by Elena Iarussi.

For Storyteller’s Corner, we bring you Melusine’s Mystery – a tale from Europe about a knight who falls in love with a mysterious woman, but she refuses to let him see her on a Saturday. Find out what she’s up to in the issue. We’re really happy that Elena Iarussi illustrated this story, who also did a beautiful job of our Estonian myth about the Milky Way in Storytime Issue 36.

Finally, our fable travels to the Middle East for a journey across the searing hot desert. Sharing a Shadow has an obvious moral message and everyone gets their just desserts, but in a funny way. Illustrator Laura Proietti helped us bring this story to life with the perfect palette of colours.


Who says you need to go away in summer? Stories have the power to take you anywhere and everywhere, and in Storytime Issue 48, we hope we’ve given you a trip to remember. If you’re still not sure and want to have a closer look at our latest magazine, you can flick through here.

School subscribers get a special resource and activity pack to go with this issue, inspired by all the featured stories and poems. If you’d like to know more about this, visit our Storytime for Schools site.

If you enjoy this issue, we hope you’ll love the next one even more. We’re launching a whole new series of exclusive stories, featuring all your favourite fairy-tale characters. Make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe today!

In the meantime, send us pictures of your sandcastles – either real ones, junk-modelled cardboard creations or sandcastle cards. We’d love to see how creative you can get. Share them with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!


Happy holidays from the Storytime team!

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings, Part 2

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Last week, Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings featured some of the smaller and harder-to-spot members of the magical world – brownies, fairies, pixies, boggarts and leprechauns. This week, Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings Part 2 looks at some of the big hitters. Human-sized or greater, if you bump into one of these magical beings on your summer outings, make no mistake, you’ll know exactly who they are and what you’re dealing with.

All of these beings appear in folk tales, legends, myths and fairy tales in Storytime. We’ve provided the issue numbers below, if you’d like to read their specific tales. Lucky for you, you can pick them up from our new, improved Back Issue Shop! (Mel Matthews illustrated the gorgeous dragon above for The Reluctant Dragon in Issue 25.)

Now take care to memorise the details here. They may be helpful if you ever have a close encounter of the magical kind…

Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings Part 2


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Jack’s evil nemesis in Storytime 5. Art by Brad Renner.

6. Giants – we never shy away from giants in Storytime. Jack and the Beanstalk stars in Issue 5, Jack the Giant Killer is in Issue 45, Rhitta the Giant is in Issue 43, and the fabulous Finn MacCool features in Issue 7. Plus, we have a whole posse of super-sized thugs in Issue 25‘s The Brave Little Tailor.

Giants are gigantic magical beings and are found all over the world. They have immense strength and can uproot trees but, fortunately, where they have brawn, they lack brains. That said, not all giants are stupid and they don’t all like crunching the bones of Englishmen. Some giants are civilised, friendly and prefer to eat cattle and sheep. Apparently, Gogmagog was Britain’s last giant. He was thrown off the edge of a cliff while doing battle with the Trojan giant slayer, Corineus. Many believe that giants still exist, but think they went into hiding centuries ago. The best place to look for them is in large mountain ranges. However, you can see Molly Whuppie whooping a giant in a future Storytime issue!


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The world’s most famous troll in Storytime 10. Art by Dankerleroux.

7. Trolls – the troll you probably know best appears in The Three Billy Goats Gruff in Storytime Issue 10. We’ve also featured the The Bear and the Trolls in Issue 27 and, unusually, female trolls in Issue 2‘s East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

It seems that trolls bear many similarities to giants. They even have a similar catchphrases: “I smell the blood of Christian men.” As a result, giants and trolls are widely believed to be close relatives. In fact, trolls might be descended from the race of giants from Norse mythology. Trolls are generally big, ugly, hairy and not very bright. They inhabit the remote forests, mountains and caves of Norway and surrounding areas.  Trolls can be fearsome, but they have a weakness – exposure to sunlight turns them to stone. There are many interesting rock formations in Norway which are said to be trolls who once got caught in the sun.


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The Dragon Queen in human form, Storytime 36. Art by Alessandra Fusi.

8. Dragons – many dragons have graced the pages of Storytime. St George and the Dragon roared into Issue 2, the Chinese myth of The Four Dragons is in Issue 10, Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon starred in Issue 25, there’s an amazing Dragon Queen in Issue 36, and a fantastic Japanese Eight-Headed Dragon in Issue 46.

Depending on where you live, dragons can be benevolent and helpful or princess-kidnapping, treasure-hoarding terrors. Some dragons are wingless or winged. Most dragons have one head, but they can have up to eight! Some breathe fire and others bring rain. However, one thing that every culture agrees on is that dragons are large, scaly serpent-like creatures with four legs. They live in caves, lakes, pools and mountain hideaways, and some live at sea. Incidentally, dragons are one of the wisest and most intelligent magical beings. Should you ever meet one, you can be sure of a good conversation.


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Momotaro faces Japanese ogres in Storytime 26. Art by Quang Phung Nguyen.

9. Ogres – you can find an ogre in Puss in Boots in Storytime Issue 14 and Japanese ogres feature in Momotaro the Peach Boy in Issue 26.

Ogres are brutish beings. They are even uglier, hairier, clumsier and more foul-tempered than giants and trolls. They’re greedy and their favourite food is humans. They love nothing better than crunching bones between their teeth. Ogres are smaller than giants but larger than humans and they have an odd skin colour, tinged green or grey. Despite their stupidity, they often live in castles or grand mansions, which they’ve usually taken by force. That said, ogres can transform into any animal. Who’s going to argue with an ogre who can turn into a venomous snake or a deadly crocodile?


10. Genies – this powerful being starred in Aladdin and his Magic Lamp in Storytime Issue 1 and Aladdin and the Princess in Storytime Issue 40.

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The genie makes Aladdin’s wishes come true in Storytime 40. Art by La Studio.

Genies are magical beings from the Middle East, where they are better known as jinn or djinn. They are powerful spirits who spend much of their time hiding in dark and mysterious places – not just inside magic lamps. Genies can appear in many different forms, but look mostly wispy and almost smoke-like – as though you could put your hand through one. They’re also fond of bright colours, so don’t be surprised if the genie you meet is bright green or blue. Some genies are more powerful than others, and not all of them grant wishes. If you meet one of these, certainly choose your wishes with caution. Some genies twist your words to cause trouble.


Which one would you like to meet? Or is this latest batch a bit too big and scary for you? If so, check out Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings, Part 1 for smaller and more manageable supernatural sensations.

Has Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings Part 2 inspired you to write a story or get outdoors and go on a troll or dragon hunt? Are there any giant folk tales in your area? What wish would you ask a genie to grant? Can you draw a picture of your favourite magical being so far? Finally, is there one we’ve missed?

Share your thoughts and creativity with us over on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to hear from you.

Here be dragons!

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings, Part 1

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Ever woken up with your hair in knots? It might be the fairies! We’re so passionate about reading and improving literacy, we can talk about it until we’re blue in the face, but for a bit of fun and a lighter read, we thought we’d share part one of Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings.

We’re lucky to have such rich and fantastical folklore in Europe, featuring so many extraordinary and enchanted creatures and beings. But The Wee Brownie – a Scottish folk tale in Storytime Issue 47 – inspired us to write this particular blog. We realised that, though residents of Scotland might be familiar with brownies, many readers won’t have come across this unusual magical sprite.

As a result, here’s a quick and easy guide to five of our favourites. See if you can spot them this summer and report back!

Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings, Part 1


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The Wee Brownie in Storytime 47. Art by Sara Torretta.

1. Brownies – one appears in Scottish folk tale, The Wee Brownie in Storytime 47.

Brownies are rarely seen household helpers. They are short and old in appearance, and rather scruffy too. Brownies appear only when you’ve gone to bed because they delight in tidying up your mess. They mainly inhabit Scotland and northern England. If you love your brownie, never leave it a gift of money or clothes or they will leave your home forever. However, they’ll never refuse a bowl of creamy porridge, especially if it’s drizzled with honey. Brownies are a type of goblin and have different names in other cultures. For instance, in Scandinavia, they are known as tomte. It seems likely that Dobby the house elf from the Harry Potter book series was based on a brownie.


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Pixies dancing in Storytime 23. Art by Astrid de Souris.

2. Pixies – a pyramid of these cheeky imps stars in Nancy and the Pixies in Storytime Issue 45, and The Laughing Pixie is an Arthurian folk tale in Storytime Issue 23.

Known locally in Cornwall as ‘piskies’, these diminutive creatures are similar to elves. You can spot them on the moors of Devon, Somerset and Cornwall, where they live in secret places underground. They wear pointy hats and have pointed ears too. They are famous for being playful – often mischievous – and they love to dance, which they happily do all night. Hundreds of pixies often dance in large circles together. Surprisingly, they’re also keen on wrestling and horse riding. Bad-tempered pixies are called spriggans and you should avoid them at all costs.


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A fairy from Elidor and the Golden Ball in Storytime Issue 30. Art by Nina de Polonia.

3. Fairies – You’ll find many fairies in Storytime, including The Legend of Knockgrafton in Issue 42, The Fairy Dog in Issue 39, Elidor and the Golden Ball in Issue 30 and Fairy Ointment in Issue 10. The fairies in our header appeared in Issue 35. (Art by Anoosha Syed).

Fairies are one of the most famous magical creatures in European folklore, but seeing a fairy is extremely rare. Though fairies look human, they often have green eyes and can range in size from tiny to the size of a child. Not all fairies have wings. Fairies can be naughty. They like to lead travellers into their hidden realms or sneak into your room at night and tangle up your hair. If you wake up with knotted hair, you’ve probably been visited by a fairy. If this worries you, wear a protective charm. Try wearing your pyjamas inside out, for instance, or placing a piece of bread by your bedside.


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A grumpy boggart in Storytime 8. Art by Marga Biazzi.

4. Boggarts – The most notorious boggart of all featured in Storytime Issue 8 in The Farmer and the Boggart.

Boggarts live mainly in England. Mostly, they make their homes in marshy bogs, hence their name. However, some boggarts live in houses.  They especially like to live close to farms, where they do their best to cause chaos and steal crops. Without doubt, they are beastly little beings. They’re unpleasant to look at, scruffy, grumpy and always up to no good. If you spot a boggart, do your best to not to make eye contact with it or it will follow you around forever. Boggarts can also change shape and appear as wild animals. Never name a boggart or it will become truly wild and destructive, tearing up your home or fields. Scientist are yet to understand why.


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A smart little leprechaun in Storytime 31. Art by Daby Ihsan

5. Leprechauns – For a funny and clever leprechaun story, read Jack and the Leprechaun in Storytime Issue 31.

Many people forget that these funny little men, often shown with red beards, are actually a type of fairy. Leprechauns are found throughout Ireland. They can be friendly or they can be fiendish tricksters, depending on how you treat them and what mood they’re in. They’re talented shoemakers and often keep a stash of gold in a secret underground burrow, which you can claim, but only if you’re clever enough. If you catch a leprechaun, he might grant you three wishes – but he’ll probably do his best to trick you first.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this first instalment of Storytime’s Guide to Magical Beings. You might welcome some of these characters into your home quite readily, but you’d better steer clear of spriggans and boggarts! Don’t worry if you don’t spot any magical beings – you can always find them in the pages of Storytime. On the other hand, if you do encounter any of the creatures above, we’d love to hear your stories. You can always contact us via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


Until next time, we’re away with the fairies!

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 47 – Out Now!

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Why did the chicken cross the road? To read the new issue of Storytime Issue 47, of course! Especially as it stars the chicken world’s most industrious and famous character, Little Red Hen. We’ve written on our welcome page that kindness always wins the day. In Storytime Issue 47, you’ll find many examples of kindness (and silliness too). Little Red Hen is an interesting character because, at the end of the story, she doesn’t give in to selfless kindness. She lets the other farmyard animals get what they deserve. What do you think? Was she right to teach them a lesson or does her behaviour ruffle your feathers? Read on to find out more about Storytime Issue 47.

Inside Storytime Issue 47

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Fabulous art by Lucy Semple for Emily Cooper’s new story, The Seaside Scallywag in Storytime Issue 47.

We’re delighted to feature a story from a new writer, Emily Cooper. The Seaside Scallywag follows a greedy seagull called Sidney – a chip-scavenging, ice cream-stealing scourge of the seaside. The other seagulls have had enough, but one kind gull decides to give Sidney a second chance. Writer Emily is an English literature graduate and former journalist who teaches children with special needs. She loves writing bedtime stories for her two daughters, aged 5 and 9, and was inspired to write about Sidney following a family holiday in Whitstable. We think Lucy Semple‘s illustrations are the perfect match for this story. We couldn’t have opened the issue in a better way.

Next we take you to the deserts of the Middle East for Zuleika’s Gift. It’s a story told in Saudi Arabia and Syria about the magical origin of the date palm tree. We highly recommend getting in some dates to nibble while reading this story. It’s not just an excuse for an exotic treat, but it also helps bring the story to life. We thank Nneka Myers for the joyous illustrations.

For a bit of fun and naughtiness, we couldn’t resist Lewis Carroll’s iconic Tweedledum and Tweedledee. It’s a short poem, so easy to learn off by heart, and it should prompt some interesting discussions. Hopefully, it will also inspire you to read the Alice books! Momo gave us the fun illustrations for this.

There’s more mischief in our Famous Fable The Fox, the Wolf and the Sea. We think kids will love the clever trick Fox plays on Wolf. They might even want to pretend they can do it too next time they visit the sea. We love the characters created by illustrator Pablo Olivero.

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Little Red Hen bakes a loaf in Storytime Issue 47. With art by Meimo Siwaporn.

As mentioned, Storytime Issue 47’s fairy tale is Little Red Hen – a hardworking little chuck with big ideas. If you are a school subscriber, we’ll send you a free teaching resource pack to go with this story. (Find out more at Storytime For Schools if you don’t subscribe yet.) We were very excited to work with Meimo Siwaporn on the cover and illustrations for this story, who previously created the artwork for our Chinese horoscope myth, The Emperor’s Race (Storytime Issue 41).

Kindness doesn’t just extend to people and animals – it can be shown to books too, as Mischievous Bartholomew discovers in this issue’s second poem. Parents of toddlers may empathise with the pain of seeing beautiful books ripped to shreds by curious little hands but, don’t worry, it all ends well. Our illustrations are by Paddy Donnelly.

Thor makes his third outing in Storytime Issue 47. So far, we’ve seen him dress up as a lady to get his stolen hammer back, duel with giants and, in this issue, we discover how his mighty hammer was made. Cantankerous Loki makes an appearance too, of course. Michel Verdu returned to Storytime to create a mythical masterpiece for our illustrations.

Finally, this issue’s folk tale comes from Scotland and features a fantastical little brownie who lives to help others. In this story, he saves the day when he helps a new baby into the world – and earns a special reward as a result. Dobby’s character in Harry Potter was inspired by legends of brownies. Our beautiful illustrations are by Sara Torretta, who has worked with us before on Storytime Issue 36‘s funny folk tale, The Mare’s Egg.

Lots of variety, stories from different countries, tales old and new, and illustrations to feast your eyes on! We’re really proud of this issue and think Little Red Hen would approve of our hard work. Still not sure? Sneak a beaky peek here:



Now Pack Storytime Issue 47 in Your Suitcase!

Though this isn’t our official summer issue (that comes next month!), it has a vibrant, colourful, summery feel, which will hopefully put you in the mood for that long break. Be sure to slip it in your suitcase, because no matter how much fun you have on the beach, there’s always time to squeeze in a story at breakfast, by the pool or at bedtime. And we’re always there for you on rainy days too.

Do you have a favourite story or illustration in this issue? We’d love to hear what it is. Get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and let us know.


Let stories rule your roost this month!
stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

10 Great Stories to Read Outdoors

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Unfortunately, long daylight hours coupled with wonderful weather can put a stop to regular Storytime sessions, and outdoor play often takes the place of reading. In anticipation of the summer holidays, reading books and magazines can fall by the wayside.

It’s a real pity, as you can get so much more engagement from children when you read outdoors. Does anyone else have happy memories of those rare, precious days at school when your teacher suggested going outside for stories? It was the ultimate form of escapism – not just into the welcoming world of fiction, but away from the stuffy heat and confines of a classroom. There’s lots of solid research on the benefits of outdoor learning and reading is a key part of that.

You can increase engagement, enjoyment and learning even more dramatically by choosing stories that are set in the great outdoors too. This is an effective way to fire up the imagination. You can also springboard into activities that are linked to your story or stories. Use them to dig deeper into curriculum themes or areas that interest your child.

In Storytime Issue 46, there are several stories we recommend you read outdoors, plus there are many more in our Storytime Back Issues. We’ve listed our favourites here with some ideas for activities too.

10 Great Stories to Read Outdoors

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Chorkung’s illustration for our firefly fable.

1. The Famous Firefly (Storytime Issue 46) This fable features a firefly who dreams of fame, but learns an important lesson about being thankful for what you have. Its beautiful illustrations by Chorkung are set in the garden during daytime and nighttime, so it shows a contrasting world of nocturnal and diurnal animals, and a whole host of creatures you can discuss. You can also talk about glow worms (which we have in the UK) and fireflies, and find out more about them. A great story to read in a green space.

2. Playgrounds (Storytime Issue 46) A poem by Laurence Alma-Tadema, which celebrates how skilled children are at turning any environment into a place of play – the garden, the seaside, the snow – and how adept they are at using their imaginations. You can read this poem just about anywhere and it still works, but read it in the local or school playground and it really comes to life. How about reading it alongside a Design Technology project to design the perfect playground? You could read it alongside Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Swing, which featured in Storytime Issue 3.

3. Alphabet Ocean (Storytime Issue 46) This is the ideal poem to pack in your case if you’re going to the seaside. Read it on the beach and imagine you’re swimming deep in the ocean and can see all the amazing creatures listed in our verse. Alternatively, take it on a trip to an aquarium and see the animals in our poem brought to life. Use it as a spotter’s guide. Can you find the whole A to Z we’ve written about in real life? Tick them all off.

4. Magic of the Rainforest (Storytime Issue 46) You might not have access to the Amazon, but an overgrown bit of garden or a forest coupled with a child’s imagination can transport you to anywhere. This story from South America’s famous rainforest follows the adventures of a little girl who gets lost in the jungle. She encounters some amazing fruits and animals. When you read outdoors, imagine you’re in the jungle too, then learn more about the rainforest and the creatures who live there. How does it differ from where you live? Follow a fruit trail and see what you find at the end.

5. The Great Snail Race (Storytime Issue 39) In a funny and clever tale from Laos, the local trickster is fooled by a smart snail. Read this story outside, then go on a snail hunt. When everyone has their own snail, host your own snail race or make little snail houses – a whole community of them. Perhaps they’ll get together and do something clever, just like in the story.

6. Doris the Singing Cow (Storytime Issue 36) Next time you go to the farm, take this story with you. It’s about a cow who auditions in a talent show and the farmyard friends who support her. It will put a new perspective on the animals you encounter and it’s a fun and imaginative way to begin a farm animal topic. Alternatively, read Henny Penny from Storytime Issue 19.

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The Butterfly and the Rose – great to read outdoors.

7. The Butterfly and the Rose (Storytime Issue 35) Make sure you’re surrounded by flowers when you read this one. You might just spot the butterfly and rose from this fable to really bring it to life for your audience. It’s not just a sweet story, it’s a springboard for learning about the crucial role pollinators play in the garden. Perhaps you could plant your own butterfly and rose garden?

8. Daffodils (Storytime Issue 31) What story could be better to read in spring than this classic by William Wordsworth? Reading it in the setting that inspired by the poem will help increase understanding of the words. Furthermore, you can demonstrate what the poet meant in his use of particular words and phrases. When you’ve finished, plant mini daffodils or make them from paper. Learn about the life cycle of a flower.

9. Betushka and the Wood Fairy (Storytime Issue 29) A magical story from the Czech Republic, set in a forest and featuring a fairy who loves to dance. Find a clearing in the woods and read this story, then wait for the magic to happen. Bird song plays an important role in this tale, so listen out for birds. See if you can spot any. Can you name them? Can you learn more about the country where this story came from?

10. Three Billy Goats Gruff (Storytime Issue 10) This is a great fairy tale to read on the lawn, on the playing field or in the park – anywhere grassy – as you can very easily read the story and ask your children or class to participate and act it out. You don’t need a bridge – the imagination can do that part – or make one very easily by setting down a flattened cardboard box on the grass, or by using a wooden step or low stool. A towel can double for the river.


As well as the stories in Storytime, there are hundreds of books that are great to read outdoors. Ever tried The Secret Garden in a secret garden? We recommend it! Pick a location or theme and spend a day in the fresh air mixing up fiction and activities. In fact, use summer as your opportunity to bring stories to life, rather than putting them to one side. You’ll see your child’s reading skills come on in leaps and bounds.

What stories do you like to read outdoors? Or what are your favourite outdoor locations for reading in? Share your favourite outdoor reading spots with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to hear your ideas and share them with our other readers. You could even use the hashtag #readoutdoors. The more inspiration for fresh-air fiction the better!

Let’s all read outdoors more this summer.

Happy reading!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Inside Storytime Issue 46!

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It’s our favourite time of the month because it’s new issue time! Storytime Issue 46 is even more cosmically awesome than usual, as it features a party-loving alien from Out of this World – a new story written by Christine Kelly. There’s also a fun fairy tale, a Japanese legend, a story from the Amazon rainforest, wonderful poems, an old folk tale and a fable. Plus we have the usual mix of activities, puzzles, colouring and a game. Find out more about Storytime Issue 46 and its talented contributors here…

Inside Storytime Issue 46

Writer Christine Kelly returns to Storytime Issue 46 with a brand new story about a little girl whose best friend just happens to be an alien from the Planet Zog. Is she real or a figment of her imagination? Everyone’s about to find out at her birthday party. In addition, we welcome back illustrator Vicky Amrullah, who provided the bright and cheerful artwork for this story and our cover. (Vicky previously illustrated the poem Eletelephony in Storytime Issue 34.)

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The Tailor’s New Coat – a folk tale illustrated by Forrest Burdett in Storytime Issue 46.

The Tailor’s New Coat is an old Jewish folk tale with variants all over the world. It’s a really clever story with a surprise ending that will give you all something to think about. The gorgeous illustrations come courtesy of Forrest Burdett. The last two pages are especially magical.

Our first poem of Storytime Issue 46 is by Laurence Alma-Tadema (not the famous Dutch painter, but his daughter). It explores the whimsical world of Playgrounds through the eyes of a child. What’s your favourite playground? This is a good poem to begin a discussion about looking closely at the world around you, using your imagination and finding the magic in everyday places. We love the creativity in the illustrations by Ana Sanfelippo.

This issue’s fable follows the exploits of The Famous Firefly as she tries to widen the audience for her impressive light show. As with most fables, things don’t go quite to plan and she learns a valuable lesson. Can you guess what it is by looking at the pictures? This is a good technique to try with developing readers.Cn they tell the story in their own words before you read it to them? Did they guess right? Our super-colourful illustrations are by Chorkung.

We’re really excited to bring you another fairy tale that tells the story behind a famous fictional character. In Storytime Issue 46, it’s the nursery rhyme favourite Old Mother Goose. (In Storytime Issue 44, we had Hey Diddle Diddle.) We’ve put together a fantastic Teaching Resource Pack to go with this story, which all schools and home schooling subscribers can get for free. Find out more on our Storytime For Schools site. The wonderful illustrations are by Marine Cazaux, who had great fun creating Mother Goose flying away on the back of her gander.

Alphabet Zoo fans will be delighted to see the artwork of Tim Budgen again for our one-off poem, Alphabet Ocean. This time, we dive into the deep blue sea to meet animals ranging from anemones to the zebra turkeyfish! To make sure you’ve spotted all the animals in our underwater A to Z, download our Alphabet Ocean posters here. Look out for more of Tim’s work in our October 2018 Storytime issue.

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The storm god Susanoo wield a special sword in Storytime Issue 46’s Japanese dragon legend. Art by Bao Luu.

We love a Japanese legend here and Storytime Issue 46’s doesn’t disappoint. It stars a stormy god who takes on a fearsome, people-munching Eight-Headed Dragon – with a little help from a famous Japanese drink. Illustrator Bao Luu has done a brilliant job of bringing this legendary hero and his enemy to life.

Our last story transports you to South America, where you can experience The Magic of the Rainforest when a young girl loses her way. It features monkeys, a jaguar god and a magical blue morpho butterfly. It’s the perfect starting point for learning more about this spectacular part of the planet. Nathanna Erica is responsible for the lovely illustrations. Do have a look at her website – it is stunning.


Why You Need Storytime!

As ever, we’re tried to give you a great mix of stories from all over the world. There are six in this issue and two poems, and the more issues you collect, the bigger and better your library of stories will become. In fact, you could probably boast you own the best stories in the universe! Furthermore, you can come back to them again and again, because we print every Storytime issue on high-quality paper. Plus Storytime is a tried and trusted way to improve your child’s reading skills – we’ll be blogging about that soon! If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so here and become part of a passionate army of worldwide readers. Alternatively, you can pick up Storytime Issue 46 from our Back Issue Shop.

We hope you think Storytime Issue 46 is as out of this world as we do. What are your favourite stories or illustrations? Are there any stories or poems you would like to see in Storytime? Is there anything you’d like to see more of? We value your feedback, so let us know via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Let your imagination fly this month,
stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Illustrator Interview: Tom Knight

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Sometimes the universe conspires to pair a story with the perfect illustrator, as is the case with Storytime Issue 45‘s fairy tale, Jack the Giant Killer, and the artist who brought it to life so brilliantly – Tom Knight.

We had high hopes for this story because we can’t understand why it isn’t more popular and widely known. It’s the ideal follow-on fairy tale from Jack and the Beanstalk with an even braver hero and even better giants. It even comes with a good helping of ‘Fe Fi Fo Fum’. The campaign to win Jack the Giant Killer the fame he deserves starts here – and Tom’s illustrations are sure to help. Did we mention the giants?

We caught up with Tom to get some insight into his life as a children’s illustrator and he gave us heaps of inspiration along the way.

Illustrator Interview: 11 Questions with Tom Knight


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Ace illustrator of heroes, giants and animals rocking out in bands, Tom Knight.

1. Did you do an illustration degree? How did you get started in illustration?

My degree was in graphic design. The design department was part of the art school, so we had access to all the printmaking and life drawing facilities. I loved it! The smell of an art department is one of my top five favourite smells of all time. (The other four are libraries, boat sheds, freshly cut grass and coffee.)

I had a very happy career in graphic design for a long time after I did my degree, but my work became more and more illustration based until I took the leap and started illustrating full time.


2. What drew you to illustrating for kids?

I used to draw a lot of birthday cards for my friends to make them laugh. My friends all have a very childish sense of humour, so it was a natural fit to start illustrating for actual kids. Then I had children of my own, and so the idea of making art that they would find funny or affecting was very appealing.


3. What or who is your biggest inspiration?

I think my biggest inspiration must be Hergé, the Belgian creator of Tintin. I loved the Tintin books so much as a child – the sense of place and adventure that Hergé created had a huge effect on me. As I got older I could see how amazing he was at drawing and creating his scenes technically too. He’s definitely my drawing hero!


4. What’s your illustration process? Do you have preferred creative medium and why?

My process changes all the time! My studio is divided in two with my tidy computer desk on one side and my messy drawing table on the other. I always try to stay on the messy side for as long as possible! I do most of my colouring digitally because it’s so much faster (and easier to change later on for all those fussy art directors). But my favourite bit is looking through all my jars of pencils and pens and charcoal and choosing what to use. I usually end up using everything.


Good Knight Bad Knight, Tom Knight, Illustrator Interview, Storytime magazine, kids magazine subscriptions5. As well as illustrating for other authors, you also write children’s books. We love Good Knight, Bad Knight. How did you get into writing as well as illustrating?

I never thought I would be good enough to write something that would end up on someone’s bookshelf, even though I’ve always had loads of story ideas. My agent basically bullied me into it, and then Katie, my lovely editor at Templar, showed a huge amount of faith in me by signing me up to write two books for them. (Note from Ed – Good Knight, Bad Knight and Jimmy Finnigan’s Wild Wood Band.)


6. You’ve done a brilliant job of Jack the Giant Killer for Storytime – thank you! What’s your favourite fairy tale and is there one you’d love to illustrate?

That’s a good question! I’ve just finished a book for Scholastic about a very naughty bogey who romps through lots of fairy tales and spoils them all, so I had lots of fun drawing the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella’s palace, as well as lots more. I’d like to have a go at The Little Mermaid I think. I’m fascinated by the world under the sea, and would have fun painting all the colourful seaweeds.


7. Are there any exciting projects you’re working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

At the moment I’m working on the next adventures of Good Knight, Bad Knight for Templar, which is very exciting. They are chapter books for older readers, and will be out later this year. There’s also The Big Bad Bogey written by Timothy Knapman, which will be out in September, and a spooky Halloween story called Bone Soup by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, which is out in July with Paula Wiseman Books.


Tom Knight, Illustrator Interview, Storytime Magazine, Storytime, kids magazine subscriptions, magazine subscriptions for kids8. Is there any past work you’re particularly proud of that you’d like to point to?

I’m very fond of Jimmy Finnigan’s Wild Wood Band, which was the second book I wrote for Templar. It joins my two passions, which are drawing picture books and playing music, so it’s quite dear to my heart. Plus I got to draw a lot of trees, which always makes me happy!


9. Your location on an island by the sea sounds pretty inspiring. Does it influence your work? If you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Yes, our island is quite an inspiring place! The nicest part is coming home when the tide is high (but not quite high enough to cover the road, which happens a lot). When there’s no wind, the sea looks like a mirror and all you can hear is the squawk of the seabirds – there’s no better place! BUT if I could work anywhere it would have to be Machu Picchu, which is a 15th century Inca citadel on top of a mountain in Peru. I’d never get any work done because I’d always be looking at the eagles and the condors.


10. Are there any different creative areas or illustration styles you’d like to explore?

Yes, all of them! I’m really interested in printmaking again, and also fabric and wallpaper design. I won’t rest until the world is covered in my drawings!

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Jack discovers the giant’s secret treasure stash and tries on an invisible cloak for size in Storytime Issue 45. Illustrated by Tom Knight.

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

I would say learn your craft first, and the most important part of an illustrator’s craft is DRAWING. You can’t draw too much. Draw everywhere, all the time! Draw on the bus, draw in the bath, draw while you’re watching telly. You probably shouldn’t draw when you’re mum is telling you off (she won’t like it) or if you’re driving a car.

It would also be useful for you to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop too, because you’ll definitely need it at some point. Finally, remember to be interested in everything! You never know where your next idea is hiding, and you don’t want to miss it. It might be behind you RIGHT NOW!


Fantastic answers and loads of inspiration. Storytime illustrators really are the nicest people in the world. We can’t leave it at that without urging you to visit Tom Knight’s website and encouraging you to check out his print shop, which features a rather wonderful Hunt for the Wilderpeople print. Also, for more eye candy, fabulous giants and brave knights, check out Tom’s blog, his Instagram feed and show your support and admiration by following him on Twitter too. Best of all, buy his books!


Many thanks, Tom, for taking the time to speak to us.


See you next time, story lovers!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Storytime Issue 45 – Out Now!

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Giants beware! Storytime Issue 45 has been unleashed on the world and the star of this new issue is boy hero, Jack the Giant Killer! This issue features heroes large and small, stories new and classic, poetry to make you smile, tales to tickle your imagination and activities to keep your little ones happily occupied (while stealthily learning). If, for some unfathomable reason, you haven’t subscribed yet, join our worldwide team of story lovers here. Alternatively, you can pick up Storytime Issue 45 in our Back Issue Shop, so don’t miss out! For more about what’s inside our issue and our amazing contributors, read on.

Inside Storytime Issue 45


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Dreaming of pirates in a poem by Mabel Forrest. Art by Rogerio Coelho.

Opening Storytime Issue 45, we’ve got a sweet story by children’s author Amanda Brandon called The Royal Birthday Surprise. Prince Henry has a long list of demands for his birthday party, but it doesn’t go quite as planned. Thankfully, his little (and only) guest has big ideas. Lovely illustrations are by Jessica Gibson.

Our first poem of the issue is an abridged version of My Dreams (originally called Boy Dreams) by Mabel Forrest. It’s a fantastic exploration of a child’s imaginative dream world. It features pirates, fairies and mermen, so it can be a great starting point for fun role-play. Incidentally, you might recognise the illustrations of Rogerio Coelho, who has illustrated for Storytime several times.

Nancy and the Pixies is an old British folk tale, supposedly based on a true story. It’s about a woman who doesn’t believe in magic. We love the final image in this story of a pyramid of playful pixies proving their point. The whimsical art is by Tatiana Petrovska. You don’t have to see to believe, readers.


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Farewell to Alphabet Zoo in Storytime Issue 45! Art by Tim Budgen.

In this issue, we’re sad to announce that our long-running poetry series Alphabet Zoo comes to an end. The last poem features animals beginning with the letters X, Y and Z. It seems to have flown by and we’ve been incredibly lucky to work with illustrator Tim Budgen. Can you believe we featured 64 animals in total? That’s a very busy zoo. If you missed any issues, the series ran from Storytime Issue 29 onwards, which you can pick up from our Back Issue Shop. Don’t forget, you can also print out our Alphabet Zoo Activity Packs with puzzles and posters on our Downloads page. Tim Budgen fans can catch our interview with him here. Also look out for next month’s issue, when we dive into a special Alphabet Ocean!

Now to our cover star and Favourite Fairy Tale, Jack the Giant Killer. It is brilliantly illustrated with the most amazing (and amusing) giants you’ve ever seen by Tom Knight. This is one of those fairy tales you’ll be familiar with but might not know well. Jack has many parallels with Jack and the Beanstalk (from Storytime Issue 5 – buy the back issue here), but they are two distinct characters. The Jack in this story is a bit bolder and braver and takes on not one but five giants, including one with two heads! Jack and the Beanstalk fans will love following his adventures.

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The Giant Cormoran ‚Ä쬆Jack’s first battle. Art by Tom Knight

From adventure to the absurd in our Around the World Tale from Poland. Kopytko is a cobbler with gigantic ears, a duck sidekick and a penchant for playing pranks. However, when he takes one practical joke too far, he learns an important lesson. The illustrations should hopefully make you laugh and are by Rodrigo Folgueira.

Further lessons can be learnt in this issue’s Famous Fable from India, which features a mysterious missing bell, angry gods and mischievous monkeys. Thank goodness someone has their wits about them. Illustrations for The Musical Monkeys are by Fabiana Faiallo. (You can also see some fascinating work-in-progress illustrations for the story here.)

Lastly, we bring you a fascinating Egyptian myth about the Great Sphinx and how it once came to life. If you’re studying Ancient Egypt in the classroom or want to open up new worlds at home, this is the perfect story. The Secret Sphinx is illustrated by Junior Caramez. School subscribers, look out for our teaching resource pack about the Sphinx, pharaohs and Ancient Egypt, which you’ll get for free. (If you’re a school and want to find out more, visit our Storytime for Schools website.)


Throughout Storytime Issue 45 we also give you activities and mini challenges. As with every magazine, we also end with puzzles, drawing, colouring, a craft, a story-themed board game AND our books of the month (enter to win a book here!). We really do try to cram each issue full of story goodness for you!

We hope you enjoy it. Let us know your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We’re always happy to hear from you.


Watch out for two-headed giants!


stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)

Nursery Rhymes in Storytime

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Though Storytime‘s regular Poems and Rhymes strand is mostly dedicated to children’s poetry, we like to mix it up and include classic nursery rhymes or songs. In Storytime Issue 44, we’ve mixed it up even more by featuring a fairy tale by L Frank Baum, which explains the fantasy origins of the famous nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle. We’ve thrown in the rhyme too for good measure.

Hey Diddle Diddle is an iconic nursery rhyme bursting with imagery that fires up the imagination. On closer inspection – like most nursery rhymes – it makes little sense. Many intellectuals have tried to trace the origins or deeper meaning of this rhyme, but the general consensus is that it’s nonsense – nonsense powerful enough to have lasted for hundreds of years though.

Hey Diddle Diddle in Storytime Issue 44 with art by Begona Fernandez Corbolan.In this time, there have been a few variations of Hey Diddle Diddle. A fork ran away with the spoon at one point and, in some versions, a pig jumped over the moon, which makes more sense because, as we all know, pigs can fly.

Perhaps our favourite legacy of this nursery rhyme is that it spawned the phrase ‘over the moon’, meaning extremely happy.

We’re over the moon to feature both the story and the nursery rhyme in Storytime, because we know that nursery rhymes play a crucial role in improving childhood literacy.

5 Reasons to Read Nursery Rhymes


1. Lots of studies, including this one, show that sharing nursery rhymes with young children has a positive impact on their phonics skills and language abilities as they grow older. It helps them develop an ear for language and the rhythm and beat of how sentences are structured.

2. If you take a break from saying nursery rhymes out loud and refer to our magazine or a book, make sure you point out the words as you read them. This helps children to make the link between sounds and letters, improving their recognition of words and also their ability to use rhyming words at a later stage.

3. If you play as you share nursery rhymes, the result is even more powerful. You can clap along, use puppets, act out the rhyme with toys, do actions – whatever works best for you and your child. The simple act of bringing a nursery rhyme to life makes it more memorable, but also makes it more engaging and fun, leaving your child with a good feeling about language and reading. Download our Hey Diddle Diddle Finger Puppets here.

4. Hearing nursery rhymes improves listening and concentration skills, but hearing them repeatedly also boosts memory skills. Try to miss out words when you say an oft-repeated nursery rhyme out loud and, in time, your child will fill in the gaps.

5. Finally, sharing nursery rhymes is an opportunity to spend quality time with your child and it brings you closer together. Possibly the best reason of all.


And there’s no need to abandon nursery rhymes when your children are older. Kids enjoy the absurd and many nursery rhymes are equal in absurdity to the works of literary greats like Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. This is one of the many reasons that nursery rhymes have endured. Plus you can challenge older children by asking them to make up their own nonsense nursery rhymes, or ask them to change rhyming words or characters in existing rhymes. What happens if the word ‘Diddle’ changes in Hey Diddle Diddle? Or if the cow jumps over the sun?

If you want to expose your children to more beautifully illustrated nursery rhymes, then see the rhymes and songs we’ve featured in Storytime so far…

Nursery Rhymes in Storytime

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  • Old Mother Hubbard (Issue 2)
  • There Was An Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly (Issue 5)
  • As I Was Going to St Ives (Issue 6)
  • Animal Fair (Issue 11)
  • The House that Jack Built (Issue 16)
  • She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain (Issue 19)
  • Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son (Issue 33)
  • Have You Ever, Ever, Ever? (Issue 43)

You can pick up these issues in Storytime’s Back Issue Shop.


We hope you enjoy sharing L Frank Baum’s story (just in case you didn’t realise, he is the brilliant creator of The Wizard of Oz) and have fun sharing nursery rhymes too. Don’t underestimate how powerful they can be!


Happy rhyming,

stories for kids

(Storytime Ed.)