Today sees the launch of a new national magazine for families, designed to help parents and their kids develop a passion for stories and reading. Storytime magazine is packed with quality illustrations, games, reading tips, and most importantly of all, great stories, poems and extracts from novels, just right for sharing as a family.
Advert free, and with no plastic toy on the front cover, Storytime will be stocked in all major retailers including WH Smiths, supermarkets and local newsagents, retailing for £3.99. Whilst it is a UK publication, subscriptions are welcome from anywhere in the world.
I’m a big fan of quality magazines for kids (my very favourites being The Phoenix Comic, and Stew, though Okido and Anorak are also much loved here) and so I took the opportunity to interview Storytime’s editor about this new and very exciting venture.
Zoe: Wow, what a brave adventure you’ve set out on: Starting a new magazine is a risky business, so what’s the motivation for you behind starting Storytime?
Storytime: As a team, we’ve all been coming up with ideas for successful magazines and creating them for other publishers for several years now (including magazines for children) and we’ve had a burning desire to create Storytime for some time. Earlier this year, we decided to go for it and become a publisher in our own right. Why Storytime? We all love and value stories, and I’ve been doing storytelling sessions with local kids for a while now, so the idea of creating a magazine that delivers different types of stories every month, all beautifully illustrated, and getting kids and parents enthused and passionate about reading was hugely appealing to us. We also liked the idea of creating something that could make happy memories. We often fondly reminisce about the comics and magazines of our childhoods, and we’d like that to be the case for our readers. We’d love readers to look back on Storytime with fond memories, recalling their favourite stories and illustrations.
Zoe: What features can readers expect to see in each monthly issue?
Storytime: Every issue features a balance of several types of stories – there’s a classic fairy tale, a myth or legend, a famous fable, a folk tale, a tale from around the world, one or two poems and an extract from a well-loved book. Some of the stories will be familiar, some are famous and a few of the stories might be new to some readers. There’s a good mix of heroes, heroines, baddies, animals, magic, and monsters. We’ve also got a few pages of puzzles (and occasionally a board game) – all inspired by the stories in the magazine. Finally, working with our education consultant, we have a panel of storytelling or reading tips in every issue, plus Story Magic – two pages dedicated to educational activities, facts and storytelling ideas for each story in the magazine. We’re really proud of this section – it’s very accessible and we hope it will inspire parents to feel more confident in storytelling and help bring the stories to life.
We’d love to featuring brand new stories from known authors in later issues and we’d like to include book recommendations, too.
Zoe: You’ve got a great range of beautiful illustrations in the first issue. How do you source your illustrators?
Storytime: Our art director has a great eye and is constantly researching and looking for the right illustrator for each upcoming story. She has built up a gigantic wish list of illustrators over the last few months! We’re trying to keep the styles varied and interesting across each issue, so there’s an exciting mix of contemporary, retro and more traditional. It’s been particularly gratifying working with illustrators to see how they interpret some of the classics. Issue 1’s quirky Alice in Wonderland by Mirdinara delighted us all; we have a gorgeous and colourful Wizard of Oz cover by Alex Wilson; and Birgitta Sif’s Mole and Ratty from The Wind in the Willows is just exceptional. It’s great to provide a platform for up and coming illustrators, too.
Zoe: You’ve chosen no adverts, no cover toy – which as a parent I’m delighted by – you’ve been able to get stocked by major stockists, and you’re sending a free copy of Storytime Issue 1 to all libraries nationwide: How have you managed to achieve all this?
Storytime: By sticking to our guns! From the outset, we wanted to ensure that Storytime magazine was something that would be kept and treasured, not thrown away, which is a bit different to many of the other magazines in this market. We’ve had a universally positive reaction to the concept and have had great support – getting so many great stockists has been a real boon for our launch and has confirmed that we are doing the right thing. We’ll be stocked in WH Smiths, all major supermarkets, local newsagents and Waterstones, but would love to be stocked in independent bookshops, too.
One of the key reasons for creating Storytime magazine was to open up a world of stories for readers, so sending out the first issue to libraries was really important to us from the start – it means that these stories are accessible to anyone. We’re also offering heavily discounted subscriptions to schools and libraries to encourage more reading for pleasure.
Zoe: I can see the magazine being enjoyed by parents reading the stories aloud to their kids, but also by independent readers – who are you hoping will read the magazine?
Storytime: Actually, both. We hope that parents will read and share Storytime magazine with younger children, but that older children will enjoy reading it independently. We’d love for parents to keep and treasure the issues so that, in time, their child can read a story independently that was once read to them during a story session.
Zoe: What do you believe a magazine can do differently / better than a book for promoting reading for pleasure?
Storytime: We very much hope that Storytime magazine can work hand-in-hand with books to promote reading for pleasure. We’re featuring an extract from a Brilliant Book in every issue in the hope that we’ll encourage parents and children to want to get hold of a copy and carry on reading a classic. We’re also running a competition every month, which gives readers a chance to win beautiful copies of the featured book. If Storytime magazine can encourage children to read more books and fall in love with stories, then we’ll have accomplished one of our goals. If we had to say one thing we’re doing differently to books, we’re offering wide availability and accessibility (from major supermarkets and local newsagents to online subscriptions and a digital version), and a good value cover price for completely fresh content (a whole new world of stories!) every month. And thanks to our uniquely varied content, perhaps parents and children will develop a love for particular types of stories they might not have encountered before – poetry, myths or folk tales, for example. That would make us happy.
Zoe: Hear, hear!
Full details of the new magazine, including how to subscribe can be found at http://www.storytimemagazine.com/