Teachers’ Storytime

What is ‘Teachers’ Storytime’?

‘Teachers’ Storytime’ is a new YouTube channel that we’re packing full of stories and well loved picture books.

There are children in every community who aren’t getting bedtime stories. Some parents are working and aren’t available for a snuggle and a story, some parents aren’t confident readers themselves, some can’t afford books, local libraries are closing at an alarming rate. Teachers’ Storytime, if we get it up to some scale, could be the reading voice that a child learns to associate with the comfort of a story at bedtime.

Why Teachers?

There are other channels for stories. CBeebies broadcast their bedtime stories and lots of them are available on iPlayer. Maybe there’s no need for our new channel at all! Well, maybe not quite. I know of a number of children from my school who enjoy watching the strange collection of videos on my personal YouTube channel on repeat. I can guarantee that they’re not watching for the quality of the material, it must be that they enjoy seeing a familiar and trusted face on their screens – even when there’s more exciting options just a click or two away!

Teachers should be pretty good at telling, and reading, stories. A lot of us are reading for our classes on a daily basis anyway and we need to have some control over our voice production. Most teachers are motivated to some extent by a liking for working with children so we can assume that most of us have a degree of warmth – we’re the A-Team of bedtime story readers. A whole lot of us have been reading stories to our children, and maybe grandchildren, for a few years too.

I think a lot of children will be excited to see ‘their teacher’ on screen and that they will stay with the channel to see familiar faces with warmth and authenticity reading well loved stories. If I’m wrong we’ll find out soon enough but, and this is important, if just one child finds the warmth and the love of language that they might otherwise be getting from a reading parent or carer from our channel – then we haven’t wasted our time.

Can I get involved?

I was hoping you’d ask that. Of course you can, just record yourself reading or telling a story and send it to me via a Dropbox or googledrive link so I can pop it up on the channel. You don’t need any hi-tech equipment – the camera and  microphone on an ipad, smartphone or laptop are more than up to the job, and you don’t have to be a whizz at editing, just start recording, tell us what you’re reading and stop recording when you have finished. Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher – if you’d like to be involved you can be involved.

What about copyright?

Ok, that’s a sensible question. An author, illustrator or publisher could reasonably argue that we’re breaching their copyright by sharing these videos and we need to be careful about that. I make sure I credit the author, illustrator and publisher both on screen and in the description of the video on the channel. I add ‘all rights remain with the author, illustrator and publisher’.

The first video on the channel was ‘Refuge’ by Anne Booth. Anne said she was very happy that her story was being used by teachers and shared and that she had no issues with the video. That was very kind and gracious of her, and we do thank her. If she, or Sam Usher the illustrator or Nosy Crow the publisher had expressed any concerns we would, of course have taken the video down without question or delay. I do not believe that we are likely to have any such problems however, if our channel gets a few views it will serve as a publicity to some extent and might lead to some sales – I do not believe that any child having watched our low tech videos is less likely to buy a copy of any of the books. We will see.

A parallel of this is the actions record companies take when their music is used on videos on YouTube. The majority do not block the videos but instead place an advertisement alongside it leading to a site where the music can be purchased. They know that they are, in effect, receiving free publicity for their product. My guess is that publishers will accept the positive motivation for the channel and choose to treat it the same way.

What do I do again?

Choose a story, preferably one that you’re really familiar with. Record yourself in one unbroken shot – any fluffs and hesitations are absolutely fine and part of the normal ‘reading with carers’ ambiance. Before starting the story introduce the book showing the cover front and back carefully and very clearly crediting the author, illustrator and publisher. Read the story as you would to a child, if that means stopping sometimes to draw attention to details in illustrations in pictures or to remark on something a child might easily miss that’s fine. Credit the author, illustrator and publisher again at the end of the video. Send a Dropbox or google drive link via DM to @TchsStorytime on twitter. Please include the name of the book and details of author illustrator and publisher in your DM so I can get those details right on the description.

If you are happy to tell a story orally without a book that is brilliant – please do. It is still good etiquette to say where you got the story from. ‘I learned this story from the story telling of Chris Smith’ is fine or ‘I learned to tell this story from ‘100 Stories for Telling’ by James Smith, published by Hawthorn Press’ for example.

What stories have been done already?

I will try to keep this up to date – if lots and lots of people send me videos I will prioritise getting them up online ahead of keeping this list updated however and I am generally fairly busy…

Refuge by Anne Booth, illustrated by Sam Usher

I want my Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Mr Benn, written and illustrated by David McKee

I Will Not, Never Ever Eat a Tomato written and illustrated by Lauren Child

Coming Home, written by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Kerry Hyndman

Alfie Wins a Prize, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes





Class Novels for Key Stage One

As many school become convinced of the necessity of incorporating high quality texts in the classroom the demand for trusted recommendations becomes higher.

I asked twitter to recommend the ‘best class novels’ for key stage one and, of course, the lovely people of twitter helped out. Here, in no very useful order, are their suggested texts. I haven’t read all of them, I hadn’t even heard of some of them, so I’m no guarantor for their suitability – as always you must read carefully before launching into any book with a class.

It’s possible that some people misunderstood my question and recommended short ‘one session’ picture books rather than the longer novels which might last a couple of weeks that I was looking for. Do watch out for that and let me know if you spot one; I’ll shift it on to another list. Many of the books are parts of series – this may play in your favour if children in the class want to go on to read more.

There’s lots and lots of Dahl in here. Bear in mind that this is probably a function of how well known his work is rather than a reflection of innate quality. Could we suggest that maybe one Dahl per key stage is enough? ‘George’ in Lower School and ‘Boy’ in upper school maybe? Other authors deserve a look in too! The same goes for Dick King-Smith who similarly dominates the list.

If you think of a book that ought to be on this list do let me know so I can add to it. Presuming a class gets through a chapter book each half term we need six books per year and eighteen by the end of Year Three so there’s definitely room for more! I can imagine going through the list to add keywords or themes. Bang me a tweet to encourage me to do so if you think this might be useful or interesting.


Porridge the Tartan Cat Alan Dapre
Mrs Pepperpot Alf Proysen
Diary of a Killer Cat Anne Fine
Anna Hibiscus Atinuke
Willa and Old Miss Annie Berlie Doherty
Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf Catherine Storr
A Boy, a Bear and a Boat Dave Shelton
The Hodegheg Dick King-Smith
Sophie’s Snail Dick King-Smith
The Finger Eater Dick King-Smith
Harry’s Mad Dick King-Smith
Wolfie Emma Barnes
The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton
Wilf the Mighty Worrier Georgia Pritchett
Mr Majeika Humphrey Carpenter
Flat Stanley Jeff Brown
Arabel and Mortimer Joan Aitken
The Pirates Next Door Jonny Duddle
The Jolley-Rogers Jonny Duddle
Rabbit and Bear Julian Gough
The Mercy Watson Series Kate Di Camillo
Olga da Polga Michael Bond
Paddington Michael Bond
The Twenty-Seventh Annual Hippopotamus Race Morris Lurie
Coraline Neil Gaiman
Fortunately the Milk Neil Gaiman
My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat Pamela Butchart
Pugs of the Frozen North Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
Oliver and the Seawigs Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
I was a Rat Phillip Pullman
George’s Marvelous Medicine Roald Dahl
Esio Trot Roald Dahl
Fantastic Mr Fox Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl
The Twits – Roald Dahl Roald Dahl
The Giggler Treatment Roddy Doyle
The ‘Dixie O’Day’ Series Shirley Hughes
The Christmasaurus Tom Fletcher
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam Tracey Corduroy
Winnie the Witch series Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul