Showing posts with label Hilary Hawkes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hilary Hawkes. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Narrating audio books

One of the best ways to get a child really engaged in a story is to let them hear it read out loud. Even older, usually non-reader children can become engrossed in a story when it is shared with lots of expression and meaning.
When my own children were small we always made sure to take “stories for listening to” on long car journeys. My youngest in particular loved story tapes with a passion and one year asked Santa for his very own cassette player. It must have got hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours of use and was carted into school for show and tell numerous times. There was the phase when after reading him bedtime stories he still wasn’t ready for sleep until he’d listened to one side of Stories for Five year olds .
There can be something magically calming and soothing about stories read by a skilled narrator who can bring out humour, personalities of the characters or, of course, the excitement and conflict, with expert timing and tone. When a story is read well children appreciate language, develop concentration and listening skills and even discover stories that might be beyond their current reading ability.
For children with sight loss, audio books might be the only way they can discover stories independently. They can offer children with dyslexia a good way into books too. And they’re great for youngsters whose first language isn’t English.
I’ve often wondered what it’s like to be the narrator whose job it is to bring those stories so wonderfully to life.

So I’d like to introduce you to Sharon Hoyland who has been narrating books, including children’s books, for many years. I discovered Sharon and her wonderful narrating skills when looking for someone to narrate a cd for the children's groups who use our family business/project resources.  Sharon kindly agreed to let me “interview” her for ABBA. So here are the questions I asked and her informative answers:

 Me: First of all, how did you begin your career as a narrator and what was the first book you recorded?

Sharon: I deliberately looked for work that was quiet, dry and passive; as a contrast to my noisy, wet and active job as a swimming teacher!  My first audiobook was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Me: When you receive a script and read it through, what things do you look for? How do you prepare a script for narrating?

Sharon: Firstly, I think, will I enjoy reading this? Secondly, can I convey the author’s meaning in a natural, tension-free way? In a nutshell, preparing a script focuses on understanding the overall ‘feel’/the target audience/any character analysis/being prepared to deliver different styles for your client to choose from. Plus useful markings on pauses, intonation and emphasis etc.

Me:  How long does a novel take to prepare, narrate and edit?

Sharon:  Ages! The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was very long with over 80,000 words. Voiceover work is part time for me, so this book took nearly ten months. I’d practice reading out loud each chapter many times (after I’d got the character voices fixed), then record that chapter, begin editing and proofreading the following morning. Selecting the best takes, embedding any sound effects and adjusting sound levels takes time, but is very satisfying when it’s all done. It’s also quite usual to re-record the first few chapters, as you’re so much more relaxed by the end of the book that you can hear the difference in your voice.

Me:  How do you ensure you look after your voice?

Sharon: I sing with a choir so have a range of favourite warm-ups before recording and I try not to really shout or scream at all. Sips of water and small bites of apple are great for long sessions. Also timing meals is important with nothing too rich or heavy as mics are so powerful they’ll pick up everything!

Me:  Are you a book fan yourself and do you prefer reading physical books or listening to audio?

Sharon:  Love books. The feel, smell, touch of a real book can’t be beaten. Non-fiction and Fiction audiobooks are great whilst doing quiet uncomplicated tasks and I’m less tempted to read ahead. Often, well produced audio can be better than my imagination, is great for emergent readers and wonderful for anybody with sight problems.

Me: Any plans for the future?

Sharon:  I’ve now completed my final narration, ‘Edwin and the Climbing Boys’ – this children’s book is an exciting adventure, based on fact, and packed with hazards and humour. Written by my mother last year, it creates an intriguing insight into chimney sweeping in 18th century London. I currently enjoy working as a freelance audiobook editor and now produce for other narrators, with a profile on

Thank you so much, Sharon.

Follow these links to  a couple of Sharon Hoyland’s favourites, narrated and produced by herself, and then click "sample" to hear parts of the stories.

Our audio and cd Imagine! Eight nurturing, fun, interactive narratives. Calming relaxation for children with music was also narrated by Sharon Hoyland and is part of our Story Therapy® series of resources.

Hilary Hawkes

Monday, 29 October 2018

The importance of non-fiction

If you ask people what their favourite book was as a child most tell you a fiction title.
Non-fiction books for children don’t get as much coverage as fiction and yet they contribute just as much to young people’s lives. It’s a pity, then, that they sometimes appear to have been denigrated to second best or not as memorable.
I’ve always thought that if fiction can take you on adventures, help you step into the lives of others, develop empathy, imagination and language, then non-fiction does exactly the same – just in a slightly different way.
The ability to read non-fiction is an important skill that needs to start at the same time as reading fiction. Later on students will need to tackle text books and all sorts of factual information and be able to understand and use it. The ability to use factual information is an essential life skill then.
But more than that: those early delightfully engaging non-fiction picture books and others aimed at young children really do help children discover and understand the world.
Studies have shown that non-fiction underpins our ability to engage with fiction and suggests a strong correlation between acquiring background knowledge from non-fiction books and achievement, including success in exams, at university and beyond.
Parents and teachers know that many children not interested in stories can take to non-fiction books – preferring to read about facts and subjects that interest them. When I was a volunteer reader helper for Beanstalk I definitely found this to be true. Many of the reluctant readers of fiction could become happily engrossed in a book about ships or the weather or space and normally hesitant readers made great progress in this way.
Children need a choice of books don’t they? Authors, illustrators and publishers go to enormous lengths to ensure non-fiction books for children are full of exciting and engaging accurate facts, promoting the desire to discuss and find out more. Some combine imagination and facts in a wonderful way.

The Drop in My Drink by Meredith Hooper and Chris Coady is one such book. I reviewed it for the Book Bag:
“This brilliant book tells the story of where water comes from in a wonderfully captivating way. In full colour picture book style, it does far more than explain scientific facts about our planet, the way life has evolved and where our water comes from. It takes the reader on an inspiring, exciting and eye-opening journey through millions of years – the same journey one little drop of water in one child's cup may have taken!
From the very first pages I could tell this definitely was going to be anything but a dull book of facts. The language has a lovely poetic feel to it in many places and this really drew me into the subject. One minute I was reading how water trickles and seeps and flows. It freezes into hard ice, It floats in the air. It is liquid and solid and vapour. It is never still and so on – and then the wonderful fact : All the water we have is all the water we've always had…” (continue reading here ).
When it comes to the importance of books in children’s lives fiction and non-fiction should go hand in hand and young readers benefit most when they are encouraged to discover both.
Hilary Hawkes

(A Witch Called Rosa)

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Living Paintings - bringing stories alive

I’ve always loved discovering “book charities” who work to share the benefits and joy of reading with people who would otherwise miss out. Not everyone has easy access to books and reading. There are as many reasons for this as there are situations in which people find themselves.

My mother loved books, but from the age of about 65 her sight began to deteriorate. Most of us would find this a source of huge frustration and annoyance, particularly if one of your favourite pastimes is reading. My father spent time every day reading aloud to my mother so that she didn’t miss out on her favourite authors, books or newspapers. She also signed up to a listening book library who delivered audio books to the house.

But what can it be like for children who have lived with sight loss their entire lives or who lose most of their sight after an illness or accident?

Living Paintings – books for the blind,  create the most amazing tactile and audio books.  They go beyond recordings of favourite or bestselling stories. Their team of talented and dedicated creators make tactile books and items that accompany the audios so that listeners can feel and sense the world of the characters or story.

Back in 1989 the idea had been the brainchild of Alison Oldland MBE, formerly a lecturer in Art History.  After adopting a rejected trainee guide dog she gave a lecture to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. The then Head of Appeals for the charity attended and made a special request: could she record descriptions of works of art for him? This seemed like such a novel idea to Alison as she realised that blind people valued and got a lot out of enjoying pictures. She was inspired to do more and came up with the idea of Living Paintings.

With feedback from blind and partially sighted people she set up a registered charity that would make  accompanying relief images for audio tracks or pages of a story. Living Paintings was born and began creating beautiful Touch and See children’s books (as well as the books for adults) – thus opening up the wonderful world of stories for children who were blind or partially sighted in a new and unique way.
Alison received awards for her brilliant work including an M.B.E in 1997. She died in 2008 but her charity is still going strong along with her ethos and goal to “break down the barriers in a sighted world”.
Those with sight loss “see” through touch in a way the rest of us do not. Living Paintings enables children to explore and discover stories in a tactile and exciting way using this heightened sense and ability. Such books mean these children can enjoy sharing stories –and story times are  important for social, communication and emotional development. The books and products are available to any family, school etc in the UK and members can borrow braille versions as well as tactile accompanied books and audios. Take a look

All children should have access to the benefits, fun and educational value of stories and books. The wonderful Living Paintings makes this possible for many who would otherwise be excluded or find themselves with limited access.
Official site:
Photos © Living Paintings website, with their permission.

Hilary Hawkes

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Days off and mountain top moments

Anyone else need a day off?

For a lot of people Sunday is just another day in the busy week. Nothing to distinguish it from the other six. Work, family responsibilities, chores, shopping and everything else carry on as usual.

When I was a child I had confusing messages about “Sundays”. On the one hand Granny  insisted it was “a day of rest”. This meant going to church or Sunday School and doing things like inviting her to tea. We tried to oblige but it was tricky with both my parents being nurses – Sundays really were just another work day for them most weeks.  So Granny’s rules had to relax a bit.

We had a family friend who also shared this day-of-rest philosophy. He ruled that his children were never to do homework on that day and his wife had to find a way of getting out of Sunday shifts at the department store where she worked part-time. But, to me at that time, this was another confusing one as said friend was a vicar. Surely Sundays were his busiest days?

I’m not sure how Granny and the vicar would have viewed today’s almost impossible to switch off society. Shops rarely seem to close and the online world is 24/7 365 days a year. Many more people are self-employed and prone to never taking  a real day off. Smart phones and social media make it difficult to turn off work or connections too. There is a temptation to just check in because it’s so easy. Children today might well think every day is a “working day”.

So what’s the point in giving yourself a few hours or a day to do something different on a regular basis, Sunday or any other day?  Putting aside all the work or usual stuff and making a point of spending more time with family, friends, a hobby or finding space to just be on your own is important.

For me, when I’m able to do this, I’m reminded about what is important. And I can get back to it all feeling a bit more enthused or relaxed or inspired. I love it when my Sundays can be  the day for a meal all together, a walk in the woods, or finding a shady spot in the garden with a book.  

Last week we visited our middle son who has moved to Yorkshire, Bronte country,  to work and live. He took us to some of the places where he takes groups of children and young adults on their outdoor challenges and adventures.
Whilst we were sitting on rocks at the top of what I’d call a mountain I was struck by the utter silence around us. No distant traffic or road sounds, no planes, no noise of other people. Even the sheep and birds were momentarily silent. It was just us, the wind and real silence. Granny would have smiled her approval. Utter heaven where the stillness seeps through you in the most wonderful way. I loved my mountain top moment. It was a perfect day off.

Today I don’t have a rock or the luxury of complete silence. But, after I’ve switched off my laptop and put all works in progress on pause then our family lunch and, later, that shady spot in the garden with a book will get my full attention.

Enjoy your day and may you always find mountain top moments.


(photos mine)

Friday, 29 June 2018

The Ahlbergs - favourites! Hilary Hawkes

June mustn't go by without remembering that it’s the birthday month of the amazing Allan Ahlberg.   

So Happy (albeit belated) 80th birthday Allan Ahlberg!

My children adored Janet and Allan’s gorgeous stories and illustrations when they were young and the books were part of the staple book diet in their primary classrooms. Everywhere we went – day trips, visits to grandparents, holidays – an Ahlberg book came with us. I’ve still got some of them – including a slightly worn out cassette tape of Burglar Bill!

Burglar Bill, The Jolly Postman series and Funny Bones are just two of a long, long list  of  books the pair created and, since Janet’s death from cancer in 1994, Allan has added countless more titles with other illustrators.

It’s partly the brilliantly imaginative, humourous style that made and still makes the Ahlberg stories so successful and popular. They must be jointly responsible for opening up the world of books and reading to thousands upon thousands of children. But you may be surprised to know that  Allan himself grew up in an almost bookless home. The Bucket is about his childhood in the 1940’s Black Country.

So before June is out let’s name our favourite Ahlberg books: mine include Each Peach, Pear, Plum and, of course, Burglar Bill. What about you?

2013 article about Allan Alhberg

Hilary Hawkes

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

"Empathy engines" Hilary Hawkes

EmpathyLab piloted an Empathy Day last year and, due to its success, this is now going to be an annual event in the UK.

This year it falls on June 12th and is a great opportunity for writers, teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone really, to put a special emphasis on books and stories that draw attention to and foster empathetic behaviour and its importance.

We're not born with a limited quota of empathy. It's something that we learn and develop as children and throughout life - and it's important for many reasons. Being able to put ourselves in the shoes of others is a hallmark of civilised society. The beginnings of this ability to imagine how someone else might be feeling or what someone else might need begins in the early years. Its absence or lacking to a significant extent after a certain age may indicate emotional or a cognitive/developmental impairment of some kind.

Some research shows an increase in hate crimes in recent years and no one will deny the need to acknowledge that many things cause divisions and cruelty in our world. Feeling empathy for others can lessen and prevent divisions and conflict. It is the starting point. Not only is empathy a natural human ability then, it is also essential.

An obvious place to start with striving to make communities more understanding, more inclusive and less divided for future generations is with our children. And this is where books and stories come in. Research has shown that stories can indeed change our brains, influence thoughts and reinforce desirable behaviours. See 

Stories help children identify with different characters and step into the lives of others.

neuroscience research shows that the emotions we feel for book characters wires our brains to have the same sort of sensitivity towards real people”. Miranda McKearney OBE (

“New scientific research shows the power of books to build real-life empathy, so Empathy Day has a major focus on using books as a tool to challenge prejudice and build connections between us.” (

I know lots of authors are involved in EmpathyLab and the day. But on June 12th what can all of us, or anyone, do to help? Suggestions include:
Recommending books that foster empathy on social media sites – using the hashtag #ReadforEmpathy (and we could recommend books like that anytime too).
If you work with children then display books that foster empathy in classrooms, libraries etc Read them together and discuss the characters, their situations etc and what we can all do (adults and children alike) to get better at understanding others.
Check out the Empathy Lab site and use some of their suggestions for drawing attention to the day. Sign up for their Empathy Lab toolkit and see their resources for use with schools or libraries.
As children’s authors, parents, teachers or whatever else we might be let’s all do something, no matter how small seeming, because:

“Reading allows us to understand the world through the eyes of others. A good book is an empathy engine.”  Chris Riddell.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The book group - Hilary Hawkes

I’ve been invited to join a book group – a real life one as opposed to an online/facebook group.

Now, I have a confession to make. While I consider myself a true bookaholic I’m not all that keen on too much reading to dissect and pontificate at great length with others. If I like a book then I like it and the reasons can vary. If I don’t like one then I usually find out in the first few chapters and either hobble to the end or, in extreme cases, abandon altogether. I’m probably a typical reader.

I’ve read books that have won prizes and thought to myself: “This won? Really?” And I’ve read some lovely self-published books and wondered why on earth a commissioning  editor somewhere didn’t snap up such a promising author.

But these are just my views. Someone else will read the same book and think something entirely different. That’s the way it should be. So book groups where everyone has a different view sounds interesting, but would it really enhance my enjoyment of reading? Would it turn my dream past-time into a bit of a chore? Looking at the list of Suggested Books For The Group I shudder at the length of some of those hefty tomes. They really aren’t books I would choose to read.

Perhaps my hesitancy about joining is due to having studied English Literature at A’level and degree level many years ago. Set texts and dissecting of little bits of them reminds me of exams and assessments.  And while I always knew exactly what I thought of a book – and why- I was often reluctant to have my say amongst others who seemed to be much better at analysing and deciding "what the author meant”.

I've always got my own personal TBR pile of fiction (adult novels and children's books) and non-fiction. I occasionally review books and really enjoy that and I love to talk with other children's authors about children's books.

I think all authors are readers first. But I wonder what proportion of book lovers who are also children’s writers are members of adult book groups. Have you tried book groups and what was your experience?  I’d love to know.
Hilary Hawkes

Thursday, 29 March 2018

"Things I wish I'd known..." Hilary Hawkes

I was eight years old when I decided I was going to be a ballerina, marry a prince and become an author.

Sadly, in time I had to admit defeat with my first two ambitions. Unrealistic things like that just don’t happen, right? With perseverance though, the last one eventually did, on a smallish scale. I was nineteen when a magazine published my twelve part story serial (well, it turned out to be thirteen because they accidentally published part nine twice). But I was in my thirties before my first children’s books were published by, what was then, Scripture Union Publishing. 

Setting out to achieve something you’d love to happen isn’t necessarily easy. It often involves all sorts you never imagined it would involve when you were there at the starting point.

There are certain things I would love to have known about being an author and so here is a  post for new writers just starting out and for other authors, like me, who are at a crossroads in their writerly lives.

Being at a crossroad phase or the starting point of something new is the perfect time to stop and pause and decide what’s really important and what isn’t. 

This, I find, can save a whole lot of false starts, going in wrong directions, holding of unrealistic expectations and all sorts of other angst.

What better way to pause and ponder all this than to ask a wonderful bunch of  children’s authors (mostly Scattered Author members, but others too) what they wished they’d known when they’d been at a starting point or the beginnings of a new phase in their careers.

So here is the wisdom and insights they discovered along the way - and comments in italics are mine:

Believe in yourself and persevere. Don’t make excuses for not pursuing your dreams.
Being published won’t change your life – you’ll still have the same stresses and you’ll have a new set: sales, reviews, future book deals.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t take criticism too personally. You need to be thick-skinned. A book is only a book and life is what matters.
Being published is not the end of rejection. And rejection is all part of it.
Being an unknown author IS being an author too. And is actually rather nice.
Sign up for PLR and ALCS straight away – very few authors make a living from writing.
Books go out of print really quickly and publishers don’t keep you on for ever. It is so easy to author-publish your out of print books though.
Writing subsequent books doesn’t get any easier.
Not everything you write has to be published.
School or book shop visits get easier and more fun with practice- but you don’t have to do them if they’re not your thing.
Don’t underestimate the amount of public speaking involved.
Don’t do it for the approval of others because depending on other people’s approval is a highway to misery.
Publishers may be genre restrictive and if that happens find a second/another publisher or other options for your work.
It never gets boring seeing your book on the shelves of a bookshop or library. It never gets boring when your friends send you photos of your book in their local Waterstones.
Writing is like snakes and ladders. When you start you think it will be all ladders. Then you meet the snakes. Keep going though because there will eventually be another ladder.
Do not expect to see your books in bookshops for long – if at all. (It’s ok to take photos of them or do a happy dance right there and then when you do see them).
If you stick at it and learn your craft it will happen.
Your creative friends will hold you up when you’re down and carry you higher when you’re up. Make friends with other authors – they are the best kind of friends.
Writing is absolutely the best thing ever when it’s going well.
Don’t take edits personally.
Having a good agent helps. If you don’t have an agent then the Society of Authors will check contracts and offer all kinds of support.
Each book has to be better or at least as good as the last.
Listen to advice but trust your own instincts.
Stay positive or at least pretend you are.
You’ll need to write a lot of drafts before you have the one that will be published and hopefully you’ll be thrilled with the final one.
If you ever stop writing the world will NOT come to an end.
Be prepared for emails and  bizarre requests from readers etc
Join a critique group - for example a SCBWI group.
Have contact with children and your reader age group. There are lots of ways this can happen – school visits, library story times, bookshop signings, volunteering with reading charities etc.
Specific to self-publishing:
                Get your books properly and professionally edited.
                Bookmark anything helpful you find online for future reference.
                Don’t try to illustrate your own books unless you are a talented artist.
                Offer your book in different formats in as wide a selection of different markets as                    possible.
Don’t give up your day job until your advance is three times your salary. This is not likely to happen!
Persevere. Find the way so you don’t give up on your dream.

If you're one of the lovely authors who contributed to the above then thank you! And if you've just read this and have a further snippet of wisdom you can share then please do so.

For those embarking on their writerly journey, or about to discover the next ladder: onwards and upwards.

Picture credits:

Monday, 29 January 2018

Stories and lasting impressions - Hilary Hawkes

Was there a story you heard as a young child that left a lasting impression on you?

Some books/stories do that - and can trigger memories and feelings many years later.

It's National Story Telling Week at the moment. Some time ago I was trying to recall the title and author of a story my mother used to read to me about a bear who lived beside a singing stream. For some reason, one day, it stopped singing and the bear’s mission was to find out why and make the stream happy again. I remember a feeling of total awe and concern as I listened to this story and watched the pictures as the pages turned. There was a happy ending, of course.

There is something reassuring and settling about happy endings – knowing the antagonists will get their come-uppance and that protagonists will win through their struggles and learn something wonderful along the way too.

Those early stories probably shape the way children begin to think about the world and situations around them. They might have a subtle teaching effect and convey nurturing messages about kindness or perseverance and good versus bad.

Many of my friends who love reading say the stories that were their favourites when they were very young became favourites with their own children or grandchildren too.  Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Paddington, not to mention those timeless fairy tales that seem to stick through the generations.

Having worked as an early years teacher it was easy to spot the books that were almost certainly going to become the ones remembered. The ones that got picked by the children over and over and barely needed reading because they recalled most of the words themselves! The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Kipper, Dr Zeus, The Gruffolo.

Two years ago an article by Telegraph reporters was published on the “100 Best Children’s Books of All Time”.  Whether a list of books is best may be a matter of opinion, but they meant bestselling, and titles that withstood changes in fashions. You can see the list here


Some of my own childhood favourites are there (sadly not the bear story).  We’ve all got other favourites that would make it on to our own personal “Best” list. Mine would have to include The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier, Veronica at The Wells by Lorna Hill and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

What favourite childhood stories all do is make children feel something important and special and good. They can transport you somewhere exciting. They can be windows into situations or other places and lives, they can shine light on things we need to discover - but in a gentle way.  They can leave children feeling secure or with a sense of justice being done. Basically, they make a contribution to helping children develop secure foundations for life.

For children’s authors those books that were favourites are additionally important.They are probably the stories that introduced us to the magic of story worlds and perhaps we even absorbed something about how stories worked without even realising. That’s not to say it doesn’t take a lot of work to make our own stories work too of course. But, maybe, remembering what we felt when we heard or read our early favourites gives writers that first desire to write.

For me the story of the bear and the singing stream was one of the stories that caused me to fall in love with children’s stories. And it is a love that has never left me.

Credit:Klara Viskova/shutterstock with persmission

How about you? Which books read early in life, or stories heard, left a lasting impression - or even influenced your own writing?


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Stories and Advent

It’s nearly that time again. The run up to Christmas is an exciting time for children.  We always had an Advent calender for our three when they were small – usually the type that showed images of the Christmas story inside the little doors. But we did the hidden chocolate versions some years too.
In some ways you could say Christmas is about story. It’s the celebration of something that happened, was recorded and passed down through the ages. Children are natural embracers of this lovely, hope-filled story. Just watch them taking part in their Nativity plays or concerts or enjoying Christmas themed story books. I love the idea of making the run-up to Christmas a story-themed time. You can use children’s favourite Christmassy stories to create crafts and decorations. It's a great way to get children to engage with stories and be creative, imaginative and occupied all at the same time. Here are nine ideas to get you started. The books shown or mentioned are just suggestions. The idea is to share a story together first and then get creating.

1 Ginger Bread Christmas by Jan Brett
Make ginger bread characters
2 Make a card game – drawing and colouring story characters or scenes and photocopying them so you have enough of each to make your own simple card games.
3 The Story of Christmas by Mary Packard and Carolyn Croll
 Decorations: draw, cut out and colour stars and use thread to join them together. They can be hung on your Christmas tree.
4 Any Christmassy themed story, especially those about the Nativity.
Trace and colour pictures to make home-made Christmas cards for your child to give to their friends.
5  A Christmas Advent Story by Hannah Tolson and Ivy Snow

Use the lid of an old shoe box or similar to make a snow scene with cotton wool, twigs for trees etc
6  The Christmas Elf  by Kate Smeltzer and Connie Christianson

Make Elf ears out of paper or card. Use elastic or string to attach or read Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen and Richard Scarry and make Rudolf’s nose from one section of the base of a cardboard egg box. Paint or colour red, attach elastic or string to make your own Rudolph nose.

7   The Christmas Pudding Who Nobody Loved by  Chris Waddington and Steve Dasguptarts.  Draw a Christmas pudding shape on card, cut it out and decorate by gluing small scrunched up pieces of brown tissue paper. Cut out a white shape and holly leaves for the top. Here’s ours!

8 One Cosy Christmas by M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton
Draw a hedgehog shape on card and cut it out. Attach straws for the spikes or make a hedgehog out of plastercine.
Santa to the Rescue! by Barry Timms and Ag Jatkowska 
Make a Santa with moving arms and legs
Draw and cut out a Santa, making the arms and legs separate pieces. Attach the parts using split pins. Attach a string or cord to each limb and let it hang down at the base of your Santa. When you pull the cord the arms and legs will move. Here’s ours!

If you don’t have enough Christmassy themed stories at home find more in the library and there are free stories on line too:

Some of my favourites, including titles by sassies:

Happy Advent - happy story sharing!

Hilary Hawkes