In the library February 2013 – Chinese New Year

In the library yesterday afternoon I told The Great Race; The Story of the Chinese Zodiac.


We also talked about Chinese New Year and sung Gung Hay Fat Choy

Chinese New Year is the most important of all the traditional Chinese holidays and is celebrated in many countries around the world.

The Chinese New Year festivities in London are the largest outside Asia and include a parade, a lion dance, food and craft stalls, live performances and a fireworks display.


Based on the lunar and solar calendars, the actual date of Chinese New Year varies, but always falls between late January and mid February.

Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

2013 is the year of the snake.

Great_Race_Desktop_WallpaperFor the older ones I had made a short play from The Magic Paintbrush



ArticleImage-43130and we all performed our parts.


After the storytelling we made some posters

The year of the cockerel 2005 by GuillemnThe year of the horse 2002 by PedroThe year of the pig 2007 by PolThe year of the sheep 2003 by YaserThe year of the horse 2002 by RocioThe year of the cockerel 1969 by Elliot for his MumThe year of the sheep 2003 by CeliaThe year of the monkey 2007 by SamuelThe year of the pig by Pablo

and did some colouring.

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See you next time!


Let the wild rumpus start!

My story session at the library in January was inspired by the demons that appear in the nativity story here in Spain. I’m sure that other English people living here also find these extraneous characters especially if you have made a fancy dress costume for your child to wear during the festive season but that is what is so great about different cultures.

So inspired by Spanish demons, I chose for the younger children, in my view the best monster books ever written in English; The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler


and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.


We roared, learned the word for claws and chanted The Gruffalo song. Then we did some colouring and vocabulary.

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For the older children in the second group I told Rama and the Demon King; An Ancient Tale from India. I was so proud of my group who followed the story with such interest and really enjoyed the episodic tale of Rama, Sita and Lakshman who were banished to the forest for fourteen years, fought the demons and were tricked by Ravana, the ten-headed king of all the demons.


The illustrations from Jessica Souhami are wonderful and this is the second book I own of hers the other being Baba Yaga and the Stolen Baby which I told back in February 2012.

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I told the children about the Hindu festival Dussehra  that commemorates the triumph of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana marking the victory of good over evil.

Here is a photo of  an Indian artist who rests near his effigies of mythical demon King Ravana. The effigies are burnt on the Hindu festival Dussehra.


Photo from Hürriyet Daily News taken by EPA/JAIPAL SINGH

We’re Riding on a Caravan

In December at the library I told the story of The Silk Road. I used the Barefoot Book “We’re Riding on a Caravan” It is a beautifully illustrated book which includes a map of the Silk Road in China, The Story of Silk and Places Along the Chinese Silk Road.

After the story we played a game. The children played in pairs and each pair had a different item which they could trade with the other pairs. They had silk, jewels, animals, spices, paper and fruit. They went from town to town by throwing a dice.

Each time they where able to exchange an item with another pair they were able to get a stamp on their Passport and then use their map to find their next destination.

Travelers exchanged many goods across Asia, from shimmering silks to exotic spices. They also shared their music, art, and religions. We had a great time on our journey and if you would like to read to some more stories from the Silk Road click here and if you would like to listen to some traditional music click here.

Stories for 9-12 year olds

Please find below a selection of stories available for Story Time for children aged between 9 and 12.


Jim and the Beanstalk

Themes: Fractured fairy tales, helping the aged and measuring.

Story Description: Jim woke up early one morning to find a plant that was very like a beanstalk growing outside his window. Climbing to the top of the beanstalk, he found a castle and a giant, but with very modern problems that only Jim could help solve.


Snow White in New York

Themes: Fractured fairy tales, Art Deco and Jazz.

Story Description: Pulsating with the rhythm and vibrancy of the Jazz Age, set in New York City in the 1920s. The story may be familiar, but the cast of characters will surprise you. Snow White is a beautiful jazz baby, protected by seven hot jazzmen. Instead of a wicked stepmother, her arch-enemy is the Queen of the Underworld. And her Prince Charming is a crack reporter from the “The New York Mirror”.


Rumpelstilstskin & Rapunzel

Themes: Tracing traditional tales and Italian Renaissance painting.

Rumpelstilstskin Story Description: The funny little man who spun straw into gold and helped the beautiful miller’s daughter marry the king gives her three days to guess his name or he will take away her child.

Rapunzel Story Description:  Trapped in a tower with no door, Rapunzel is allowed to see no one but the sorceress who has imprisoned her-until the day a young prince hears her singing.


The Thousand Nights and One Night

Themes: The storyteller and literary techniques.

Story Description: Welcome to an ancient world of enchantment and adventure where animals talk, genies grant wishes and sorcerers and sultans rub shoulders with men. Retellings based on the original nineteenth-century English translation by Sir Richard Burton.


Poetry Workshop

Using poetry in the classroom is a great way to teach English. Poems are often rich in cultural references, and they present a wide range of learning opportunities. This workshop concentrates on communicative speaking activities and pronunciation.

Stories for 6-9 year olds

Please find below a selection of stories available for Story Time for children aged between 6 and 9.


The Gigantic Turnip

Themes: Growing vegetables and weather

Story Description: A counting book, an animal book, and a book of the seasons all rolled into the one cyclical narrative.

Stone Soup

Themes: Sharing and food.

Story Description: Stone Soup is a popular folktale in many countries that has been told for centuries. I use a version of Stone Soup which is an imaginatively creative story with colourfully descriptive pictures that bring the plot about sharing to life.

Lazy Jack

Themes: Jobs and places of work.

Story Description: A mournful princess sits at her castle window. Meanwhile, Jack (probably the laziest person in the world) is sent out to work by his mother. On his first day he is paid a shiny coin, but he drops it on the way home. “You should have put it in your jacket pocket!” cries his mother. So the next day, having worked for a dairyman, he pours the jug of milk he is given in payment into his jacket pocket! In fact, he always follows his mother’s most recent advice when bringing home his day’s earnings: it results in the most ridiculous scenarios.

New Patches for Old

Themes: Kindness and clothes

Story Description: A traditional Turkish folktale. Poor Hasan! His trousers are too long and it seems that nobody will help him to shorten them. What will he wear on the holiday?

The Little Red Hen Makes Pizza

Themes: Kindness, cooking and ingredients.

Story Description: A spirited and quirky remake of the classic tale, about an industrious hen and the rewards of her hard work and self-reliance. Children will enjoy following the process of making a pizza as the Little Red Hen–who can get no help from the duck, the dog, or the cat–buys an appropriate pan, kneads the dough, cuts and chops vegetables (and other stuff) for a fabulous topping, and bakes a giant pizza.

The Magic Paintbrush

Themes: Selfishness and sharing

Story Description: As Shen draws pictures in the sand, a mysterious man gives her a magic paintbrush. She paints, fish, pots and ladders and watches them come to life for the poor people in her village. But when the emperor hears of this, how can Shen outwit his greedy plans?

The Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays, and is a time of feasting with the family, celebration, fireworks and gift-giving. It is a 15-day holiday, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon on the day of the Lantern Festival. The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year named after an animal. There are various stories which explain this. On Saturday, at my storytelling session in the library, we looked at all the animals from the Chinese zodiac; the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. I asked the children the date of their birthdays and the year. In the group there were three children born in the year of the dragon, three in the year of the snake and six in the year of the horse. Then I told one of the stories of how the animals were chosen for the Chinese zodiac. I used a very simple version; The Chinese New Year by Joanna Troughton from Cambridge Storybooks. At the point when all the animals are swimming across the river I stopped to see who the children thought would win the race. After lots of guesses one child did say the rat.  Here is a version of the story on the internet. Also on this site you can find out which Chinese year you were born in by putting in your birthday. The Chinese believe that people born in a particular year take on the characteristics of the animal associated with that year. There are also some great related activities. To follow up the students did a word search from this website; Also at Activity Village you can also find lots of interesting activities about the different festivals celebrated in Britain. (Soon it will be Valentine’s Day and then Pancake Day) We finished off our session by making a bookmark which the children decorated with their own Chinese zodiac animal sign. By the way I’m a rooster!

November in the Biblioteca

The month came round very quickly and I was back in the library to do my second storytelling session. This time I told The Bremen Town Musicians. We first looked at some animals with flashcards and toys.


The children happily made all the right animal noises however there is a difference between how an English dog barks; woof and a Catalan one; guau and it was a cock a doodle doo verses kirkiriki for the cockerel. The list goes on. I made some strange noises myself!


After the story the children were busy colouring and filling in clock faces. Here is a picture from Aina.


The following day we went walking in the mountains near our house and our guide pointed out ruins of a house where robbers had once lived. I told my son this must have been the house that the animals came to in The Bremen Town Musicians. If only I could have brought all the children from the library out to see those ruins!


The other day while looking for stories about trees I found this one which has the same theme as The Bremen Town Musicians, of animals all helping and working together. The Story of Four Harmonious Friends it’s from Bhutan. It’s a story which perfectly demonstrates harmony, interdependence, co-operation and friendship between four animals who become close friends. I’m looking forward to telling it.



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