iXL Tutors

National Storytelling Week

National storytelling week takes place every year and is a celebration of the power and impact of telling stories. This year it takes place from 30th of January to 5th February. 

Not only is it an entertaining pastime, but storytelling also allows us to feel empathy as we see something through someone else’s eyes. Stories help us relax and provide escapism, teach and inspire, and even develop necessary literacy skills. 

Benefits of storytelling 

Aside from the pleasure of simply telling a story or listening to a story being told, storytelling has a host of other benefits for learners too. 


By listening to a story, a child’s willingness to express themselves is increased. It encourages discussion around characters and their actions or motivations, predictions, plot and themes. It also allows children to add to their bank of vocabulary as they hear ambitious vocabulary used in context. 


Listening to a story being told encourages children to use their imagination to picture characters, setting and events as they unfold. 

Focus and social skills 

Through storytelling, children are encouraged to listen to others. They learn to be patient and let others speak. They can also begin to understand that not everyone interprets things in the same way they do. 

What’s more, children get the opportunity to develop their focus skills through storytelling. They become aware that if they do not focus, they miss important parts of the story. 

Promotes diversity 

Through storytelling, children can learn about other countries, ways of life, cultures and traditions. They have the opportunity to appreciate and value our differences. This helps develop a sense of empathy. 

Book recommendations 

We’ve put together a selection of book suggestions for you to enjoy during National Storytelling Week and beyond. 

Key Stage 1 Picture Books 

The Proudest Blue – Ibtihaj Muhammad 

As Faizah has her first day of school, her older sister, Asiya, also has an important milestone: her first day of hijab. A beautiful hijab made of blue like the ocean and the sky, young Faizah thinks. In the face of unkind words about Asiya’s hijab, will the sisters find the courage to stay strong? 

Gorilla by Anthony Browne 

Hannah is a little girl obsessed with gorillas: TV shows, books, pictures-she even has gorillas on her bedside lamp! Hannah longs to see a gorilla in real life, but unfortunately, Dad is always too busy for a trip to the zoo. Then, on the night before Hannah’s birthday, something quite extraordinary happens… 

Key Stage 2 Picture Books 

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul 

This story tells us about a group of women in an African village who find a creative way to deal with the rubbish piling up in their village streets. In the face of ridicule and adversity, they work together and work hard to make their village beautiful again and become empowered as they do so. 

Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs 

This story brings a new generation to an old fairy tale and is imaginative and full of fun. When Jim finds a beanstalk growing outside his window, he climbs it to find a castle and a giant with some very modern problems that only Jim can help him solve. 

Key Stage 2 Novels 

Maria’s Island by Victoria Hislop 

This is the compelling story of Plaka, a village in Crete and the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga- Greece’s former leper colony. The story is told from the point of view of Maria Petrakis as she is transported back to being a child during a time when the ancient and misunderstood disease of leprosy tore families and communities apart. 

(This book is the children’s version of The Island by Victoria Hislop which we would highly recommend for adult readers). 

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold 

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. This is what Hannah’s father tells her when his scientific research means they have to move to a faraway Arctic outpost. But one night, Hannah spots a bear through the window. A hungry, lonely, lost bear a long way from home. Slowly, Hannah gains the bear’s trust and a friendship forms. With this, Hannah resolves to get the bear back to where he belongs no matter what it takes… 

Suggested Activities 

Story Prompts 

Display an image on the board. In groups, children could be given a planning template and make some notes. They could then come up with and practise telling a story based on this, each of them having a part. They could share their story with the class. 


Give children some time to draw a map of a place, any place they want. It can be real or imaginary; it could be a town, a city, a forest, a whole kingdom- whatever they like. Encourage them to add detail and give areas names. They can then use this to tell a story. The story could be told to a small group or to the whole class. 


Children could use a family photo as a starting point to tell a story. The story could be real or made up. 

Roll the Dice 

The teacher could display lots of pictures on the board or they could be printed: one set depicting characters, one set depicting setting. Pictures could be numbered so that the number rolled on the first roll of the dice is the character and the number rolled on second roll is the setting. Children can then use these to create a story. 

Tell a story with actions or props 

Children could find or write their own short story. They could then take time to practise the art of telling the story with flair, using actions or props if they wish. They could be given plenty of time to rehearse the story so well that they can re-tell it from memory. This could be done individually or in pairs/groups. 

Whatever you do or whatever you read, we hope you have fun!