Celebrating National Storytelling Week

National Storytelling Week (30 Jan to 5 Feb 2023) is an annual celebration of the power of sharing stories. Reading stories is a great way to relax, use your imagination and to help develop essential literacy skills.

The team here at CENMAC are celebrating by sharing our favourite stories for children and young people. We hope you enjoy our recommendations!

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
recommend by Kathryn Stowell, Team Leader

A beautifully illustrated and told story about how a small boy, Wilfrid helps his elderly friend and neighbour Nancy regain some of her memories. I particularly like the way the illustrations are drawn from a child’s perspective and in watercolour to capture the topic of losing your memory with such warmth and affection.

For ages: 3+

Celebrating National Storytelling Week
National Storytelling Week Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

A collection of oral stories about the West African spider-god ‘Anansi’
recommended by Deputy Team Leader, Mary Long

Not a book recommendation but a collection of oral stories – National Storytelling Week celebrates the ways in which young people can enjoy listening to stories and develop the skills to become storytellers themselves. As a child, I loved listening to folk stories, myths, legends, and fables, especially the collection of stories about the West African spider-god ‘Anansi’. These stories always had a twist and somehow always involved the little spider overcoming obstacles to get what he wanted using his clever trickery. Listening to stories helps to develop an understanding of how language works, which can support children’s essential literacy skills.

For all ages

The Wump World by Bill Peet
recommended by Amorel Kennedy, Administrator

The Wump World was written in 1970 and has left a lasting impression on me ever since I read it aged 7. A book that is probably even more relevant to today’s young generations, it tells the story of the Wumps whose life on a lovely green, leafy world is permanently disrupted by the arrival of some other creatures from outer space who have their own plans. Despite the awful things that happen to the Wumps’ world while these other ‘people’ (they bear an uncanny resemblance to humans) remain, the book does end on a note of hope. It is beautifully written, beautifully illustrated and, I think, is a great way to introduce young children to the concept of looking after things and places, respecting nature and understanding our place on, and responsibility to, a diverse and beautiful planet.

For ages: 6+

National Storytelling Week Anansi the West African spider-god
National Storytelling Week The Wump World

Matilda by Roald Dahl
recommended by Wayne McCullough, Advisory Teacher

Matilda is a wonderful story about a young girl who loves reading and learning. She learns to stand up for what is right and wrong, even against Miss Trunchbull the cruel headmistress, showing that even if you are little, you can do a lot. One of my many favourite Roald Dahl stories.

For ages: 7+

Kaspar: Prince of Cats by Michael Morpurgo
recommended by James Dewar-Hassan, Specialist Teaching Assistant

I loved Michael Morpurgo books when I was younger and this story was amongst my favourites. His ability to intertwine mature themes into child-friendly and engaging stories, was always something that drew me to them (although I didn’t think that deeply about it at the time!). I was also very fond of his tendancy to include animals as main characters, something that this book does perfectly.

For ages: 7+

National Storytelling Week Matilda
National Storytelling Week Kaspar Prince of Cats

Red Sky in the Morning by Elizabeth Laird
recommended by Sarah McPoland, Advisory SLT

Red Sky in the Morning is a direct and emotionally engaging book about disability, adolescence and family responsibility which I would highly recommend for passionate readers of age seven and above.

For ages: 7+

What Do People Do All Day? By Richard Scarry
recommended by Annabel Dent, Marketing & Events Consultant

I used to absolutely love What Do People Do All Day? because there were lots of cute animals doing all types of human jobs. It’s bright and colourful and you always find something new on each page every time you look at it. I also used to love looking for Lowly Worm who appeared on every page and you had to search hard to find him.

For ages: 0 – 5

National Storytelling Week Red Sky in the Morning
National Storytelling Week What Do People Do All Day?

To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite
recommended by Maureen De Longhi, Advisory Teacher

As a teenager, my favourite book was ‘To sir, With Love,’ by E.R Braithwaite. It’s the story of a new teacher who joins a really tough school in the East End of London and is given a really difficult class and his students are typically from families who have very little money, and they are often dirty and malnourished. Lots of the other teachers mock him because they feel that this class is unteachable and they don’t expect him to be able to survive. However, he refuses to give up on the students and he teaches them to become polite and eloquent young people. He expects the students to call him Sir and to address everyone with respect.

At first the students rebel but in the end he inspires them and teaches them self-respect, kindness to others and integrity. Despite being set in the 1960s, the story explores racial prejudice and poverty, and explores how the teacher breaks down these barriers and wins through against the odds.

The first time I read this book I absolutely loved it. Maybe it inspired me to become a teacher and maybe I saw in that teacher the sort of teacher that I wanted to be. Also, I looked at the students and saw myself in some of them. I wanted to be cool and rebellious, but I was never quite brave enough.

I’ve read the book several times and every time, I find something new in it that I like, even now as an adult. I would recommend it to everybody.

For ages: 13+

National Storytelling Week To Sir with Love

The power of reading aloud

Caroline Fielding, Librarian at Charlton Park Academy has also written a great blog about the power of reading aloud and offers some Top Tips to help make storytelling lots of fun! Take a look.

We hope you enjoy our team picks. Happy reading and storytelling!

CENMAC Blog 20 January 2023