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National Storytelling Week: Classic children’s books to read aloud with your kids

Enjoy interactive storytimes with the help of these well-loved tales and their memorable lines

Tara Breathnach
Tuesday 02 February 2021 15:41
<p>Storytelling can be an engaging and collaborative experience for adults and kids alike</p>

Storytelling can be an engaging and collaborative experience for adults and kids alike

This week marks the 21st National Storytelling Week – a celebration of the art of creative and engaging storytelling for children and adults alike.

When lockdown isn’t in place, the Society for Storytelling normally hosts events in schools, theatres and residential homes to mark the occasion, featuring performances of poems, folktales, legends, riddles and personal stories. You can find out more information in the society’s resource pack.

Read more: 9 best homeschooling books to educate kids during lockdown

Society chair Paul Jackson says that a big aim of the week is to underpin the idea that the oral tradition is “mighty important”. “Perhaps more important now than ever, in these lockdown times. These are the times when we all miss others; when we all have a story we need to tell and to share.”

While things may look a little different this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t get into storytelling at home. For younger children, using books that are already out there, in a way that ensures they can join in, will also fit the bill. They can be mini storytellers with you!

Here we’ve put together a list of classic children's books that are perfect for storytelling – a number are quite repetitive, so your child can chime in, making it a brilliantly collaborative experience. Act them out if you like, and let your imagination run wild. 

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.  

‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen, published by Walker Books: £6.99, Waterstones

If you’re not already familiar with this one, trust us, it won’t be long before you are!

A simple and repetitive – but brilliant – story, this is one that adults and kids can have fun telling together. “We’re going on a bear hunt... we’re going to catch a big one!”

And if you want some inspiration, you can see how the author himself performs it on YouTube. Absolutely brilliant.  

Buy now

‘That’s Not My Monkey’ by Fiona Watt, published by Usborne: £6.99, Usborne

There are a whole range of these touchy-feely board books to choose from, from tigers to puppies to unicorns. They’re perfect for really young children (three months and above) who might just read along, or make the noises of the animals as you tell the tale.

The tactile nature of the book will keep little hands busy as you narrate, too.

Buy now

‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle, published by Puffin, £5.99, Blackwell’s

Another colourful classic that you can read together. Watch as this friendly caterpillar eats and eats until he becomes... well, you know what. 

But remember how it all started? “In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” Ahhhhh.

Buy now

‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’ by Judith Kerr, published by HarperCollins: £5.19, World Of Books

“Once there was a little girl called Sophie. She was having tea with her mummy in the kitchen. Suddenly there was a ring at the door.”

Can you guess what happened next? Memorable illustrations accompany this fantastic story by Kerr.  

We’ll be surprised if the kids don’t ask for this one on repeat. They’ll be saying the lines along with you after a couple of times, no doubt, and maybe even putting on an exceptional tiger voice!

Buy now

‘Peace At Last’ by Jill Murphy, published by Macmillan: £5.42, Amazon

Perhaps one for when the long day is over, this lovely book has repetition and noises that your little one can join in with.

Mr Bear wants to sleep, but will an excitable Baby Bear let him catch some Zs?

Buy now

See our dedicated kids’ books section for lots more inspirational stories

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