Digital magazine is on a scroll

21st September 2012 at 01:00
Bi-monthly online editions are packed with writing activities, says Emma Seith

Award-winning children's authors Barry Hutchison and Tommy Donbavand have launched a digital magazine to help boost literacy in schools.

Start the Story is aimed at teachers, librarians, parents and others with an interest in getting children excited about reading and writing. It was conceived by the pair after discussions during school visits.

"After my writing workshops, teachers would come up and ask if they could use some of the techniques I'd demonstrated in their future lessons," says Mr Hutchison, whose book The 13th Horseman is shortlisted for the 2012 Scottish Children's Book Awards. "I was doing some pretty basic stuff on creating characters, and so was amazed when they said they'd never seen anything like it."

Mr Donbavand, author of the Scream Street series and whose next book is entitled My Teacher Ate My Brain, adds: "A lot of teachers are really excited by creative writing but often they've never been shown how to break it down into fun, interactive lessons that will really engage their pupils. We decided we might be able to help out with that."

They decided to publish a bi-monthly online magazine packed with writing activities, story prompts, pupil worksheets and a complete lesson plan in every issue, almost all of which can be used or adapted for any age range from primary into middle secondary. The authors realised that getting pupils excited about writing was only half the battle, though, so each edition also contains recommended books for all reading abilities.

Mr Hutchison continues: "Teachers rarely have the time to keep up with what's happening in children's publishing, so we pack out the magazine with our suggestions for everything from picture books to young adult novels. We try to target boys mostly, but there are plenty of books in there that girls will enjoy, too."

The first issue of Start the Story launched in June and is available free of charge at A one-year subscription to the magazine costs pound;36.

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