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Get Your Children Reading this National Storytelling Week

Collage of featured products
February 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

There is an ever-increasing body of research to suggest that reading for pleasure is linked to positive developmental outcomes for children

With this in mind, here are a few top tips for weaving stories into family life this February.

Award-Winning Tales for Older Children

These novels from Northern writers are officially the best in the (book) biz.

Flour Babies by Anne Fine
£7.99 Penguin
This classic novel from Durham-based author Anne Fine won her her second Carnegie medal when it was published in 1992. When an eccentric school teacher decides to teach six under-achieving boys about responsibility, they are each given a bag of flour that they must care for as though it were a baby. They learn more about themselves than they expect.

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
£7.99 Pan Macmillan
This historical novel by born and bred Tynesider Robert Westall won the Carnegie medal in 1975. It follows six children that capture a German gunner when his plane is shot down over the English countryside during WWII.

Skellig by David Almond
£7.99 Hachette
David Almond’s Skellig won both the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year and the Carnegie Medal in 1998. It tells the story of a boy called Tom, who moves house at the same time as his baby sister becomes ill. When he finds a strange, winged (and grouchy) creature in the garage, his life is changed forever.


Encourage them by creating the perfect ‘book-nook’ where they can fall in love with books for themselves.

Children’s teddy bean bag

Children’s teddy bean bag, £79.99 Extreme Lounging at John Lewis & Partners, Newcastle

Pure wool throw

Pure wool throw, £79.99 Otterburn Mill, Otterburn and Rothbury

‘Cosy Up’ slogan cushion

‘Cosy Up’ slogan cushion, £19.50 Marks & Spencer, branches regionwide

Scandi Bookcase

Scandi Bookcase, £149 Sweeek at B&Q, branches regionwide

Reading floor lamp

Reading floor lamp, £250 Neptune at Bridgewater Interiors, Gateshead and Wylam

Alphabet height chart

Alphabet height chart, £29.50 James Ellis at Baby at the Bank, Corbridge

Janod Animals Magneti'book

Janod Animals Magneti'book, £19 Jojo Maman Bebe, Morpeth

Toniebox musical story box

Toniebox musical story box, £79.95 Tonies at Fenwick, Newcastle

T-rex bookends

T-rex bookends, £19.99 Bliss Gifts, Darlington


Toys can be great tools for storytelling, but with so many new-fangled, tech-centric options available, it can be easy to forget the basics. Here’s a reminder of an easy but ever-hilarious staple: the humble sock puppet.

You will need:
An odd sock
Buttons or googley eyes
Yarn (wool or twine) for hair
Some marker pens or whatever else you can think of to decorate

Stick two of your chosen eyes at the end of the sock (just above the toe)

For a classic, parted hairstyle take your chosen yarn and repeatedly wind it round in a circle (the bigger the circle, the longer the hair) till you have a thick loop. Then cut it off from the ball of yarn.

Take another piece of yarn and wrap it tightly around the centre of the loop a few times and tie it, so that the two pieces form a bow-like shape.

Cut through the loops on either end.

Glue the central knot to the sock, a couple of centimetres above the eyes.

Put your hand in the sock, using your thumb to form a mouth and voila: you have a puppet.

Take it One Page at a Time

I Breathe by Cally Johnson-Isaacs and Susie Brooks
£6.99 Harper Collins

This children’s book from Northumberland-based illustrator Cally Johnson-Isaacs and author Susie Brooks uses story-telling to help give small children the tools to deal with life’s challenges. I Breathe is all about learning mindfulness through yoga and the follow-up book, I Try, is about developing resilience using examples from thE animal kingdom.

The Boy and the Seahorse

Thursday 14th April, 11am and 2pm at Seventeen Nineteen
Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland

Get ahead and book now to see The Boy and the Seahorse, a modern folktale for all the family. The show uses storytelling, animation, shadow puppetry and original Northumbrian music to explore our seafaring heritage through the eyes of a young boy and his quest to protect his family.

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