Playing by the book

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A summerful of stories

Posted on | July 19, 2012 | 19 Comments

Tomorrow is my girls’ last day of school this year, and then the summer holiday begin. We’ve a summer full of stories planned and as part of that we’ll be following Storycloud, a free online library of brand new short stories for 5 – 8 year olds and their families, written by some of the very best children’s writers in the UK.

The authors include Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman, David Almond, Philip Ardagh, Jamila Gavin, Debi Gliori, Candy Gourlay and Andy Stanton, and the stories they have written can either be read on screen, printed off, or listened to read by the authors themselves. The tales have been written very much with “what next?” in mind – each includes prompts to encourage children to create their own stories and drawings in response to what they read/listen to; although the stories are self contained, they are written in such a way to spark ideas and get juices flowing.

Down on the Beach by Andy Stanton, illustrated by Adam Stower

Once you’ve enjoyed the weekly story (released every Monday) you then get to see an illustration to go with that week’s story. As with the writing, top talent has been drawn upon to create these digital pictures, including Guy Parker-Rees, Chris Riddell, David Roberts, David Melling, Deborah Allwright and Sarah McIntyre. The images are minimally animated – each has a sprinkling of secrets which you can search for by clicking with your mouse.

Here’s the full line up of stories (some of which are already available):

  • 18 June: The Talent Show by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Kristyna Litten
  • 25 June: Down on the Beach by Andy Stanton and illustrated by Adam Stower
  • 2 July: Strange Things Happen by Malorie Blackman and illustrated by Chris Riddell
  • 9 July: Jimmy McArdle’s Stones by David Almond and illustrated by David Roberts
  • 16 July: Down the Plughole by Philip Ardagh and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
  • 23 July: Ali’s Trousers by Azzad Benkerroum Zaim and illustrated by Carl Pearce
  • 30 July: The Tree at the End of the World by Debi Gliori and illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
  • 6 August: The Zebra and Cheetah by Semilore Joseph and illustrated by David Melling
  • 13 August: The Hoopoe Bird by Emma King and illustrated by Ross Collins
  • 20 August: The Boy Who Lived on a Pancake by Candy Courlay and illustrated by Deborah Allwright
  • 27 August: The Magic Carpet by Zeynab Abokor and illustrated by Elissa Elwick
  • 3 September: The Day Before by Jamila Gavin and illustrated by Lee Wildish

  • Down the Plughole by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

    I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of all the stories and illustrations, and I’ve been delighted with what I’ve seen and read. It’s great to hear the authors themselves read their stories, and I also like the pdfs you can print out – in addition to the story, they also contain author/illustrator biographies, books recommended by the authors and illustrators, plus the prompts to get you writing drawing (and details of how to submit them to the StoryCloud Gallery).

    The level of animation may come as a surprise to some parents and children – it really is just a case of moving the mouse and clicking a few times – but this has been a very conscious decision by the creators. In their words:

    As more and more publishers and games makers create digital content for children, we believe that there is a danger that the story gets lost in the dazzle of new technology and interactive elements. It can seem that the purpose of the latest e-book or app is to demonstrate the latest coding and technological development rather than find the best way to tell the story. The aim with StoryCloud has been to create a digital experience that encourages children to slow down to listen/read the story. Only after they have heard the story do they get to play with the illustration which in turn leads to prompts to encourage children to write or draw their own stories.

    So don’t expect an all-singing, all-dancing online game / book App experience, but do expect to discover some delightful, funny stories including everything from flying horses and disobedient children to cheating cheetahs and disappearing babies. I know this will be a great resource this rain and story filled summer!

    The Talent Show by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
    StoryCloud is a collaboration between Discover Children’s Story Centre and digital publisher WingedChariot.

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    19 Responses to “A summerful of stories”

    1. Stacey
      July 19th, 2012 @ 12:37 am

      What a fantastic resource! I can’t wait to explore!!
      Stacey recently posted..Girls of Summer Reading List: An Update

    2. Zoe
      July 19th, 2012 @ 7:49 am

      Yes, Stacey, it’s an interesting and fun addition to one’s arsenal of good things to promote reading over the summer (wherever in the world you are!)
      Zoe recently posted..A summerful of stories

    3. rachel slater
      July 19th, 2012 @ 8:06 am

      This is just brilliant Zoe, thank you. I have link to your blog post on my blog as I hope more people can find out about your great blog and Storycloud. Thanks
      rachel slater recently

    4. Sam
      July 19th, 2012 @ 8:53 am

      Thanks so much for alerting us to this, Zoe. I hadn’t heard of it but Holly and I will check it out (even if she’s a little beyond the suggested age range).
      Sam recently posted..Awesome alliteration PLUS crazy competition!

    5. Library Mice
      July 19th, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

      I have not had time to look at it properly yet but it looks great from the glimpses I have seen!
      Library Mice recently posted..Famous Five at 70

    6. Zoe
      July 19th, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

      That’s great Rachel – thanks for spreading the word about StoryCloud.

    7. Zoe
      July 19th, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

      Hi Sam, I’m sure Holly will still be able to get something out of it – I hope she (and you!) enjoy the stories.

    8. Zoe
      July 19th, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

      Hi library mice, I know what you mean about lack of time – last days of term are so packed. Hope you get a good chance to read the stories later once school is out.

    9. sandhya
      July 20th, 2012 @ 5:25 am

      Wow, Zoe! That seems like a wonderful resource. Sharing it with some friends who have younger children.

      As you have said, they seem to be great story prompts too, that I can use for A, the budding writer. Thanks.
      sandhya recently posted..Anne Frank – on Womensweb

    10. Zoe
      July 20th, 2012 @ 10:55 am

      Hope A and your friends all enjoy it, Sandhya!

    11. Steve Antony
      July 20th, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

      Excellent. Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like a really exciting project. I’ve just checked out the website. Brilliant.

    12. Zoe
      July 20th, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

      Hi Anthony, perhaps it can inspire older authors and illustrators too ;-)

    13. Julie
      July 20th, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

      Dear Zoe,
      Thanks for this blog post. Storycloud sounds fascinating–I really like your description of how it’s digital but intentionally less animated. We’ve got a rainy day today, so I plan to check it out with my children. Thanks for yet another wonderful blog post!—Julie

    14. Zoe
      July 20th, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

      Hi Julie, I think it’s quite a brave decision they’ve taken about being intentionally less animated – I wonder how it will go down with children who are used to apps and computer games.

    15. Ayesha
      July 22nd, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

      This is absolutely fantastic! What a wonderful idea! I wish there was something like that in the Netherlands…!

    16. Becky
      July 22nd, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

      What a great resouce thanks for flagging this up Zoe
      Becky recently posted..Book review competition for kids

    17. Zoe
      July 22nd, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

      Oh yes, Ayesha, wOuldn’t it be great if the kinderboekenmuseum did something like this?

    18. Zoe
      July 22nd, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

      A pleasure Becky, hope you and the kids enjoy it.

    19. Fab new summer stories, to entertain 5-8′s | Family Budgeting
      August 1st, 2012 @ 8:34 am

      […] summer (but don’t worry they stay up so you can play catch up. ) I read about them over at Playing By the Book (one of my faviourite blogs) and thought it was a perfect idea to share with families on a […]

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