General guidance

What’s it all about?

The Story Thief Challenges is a twelve part series designed to entertain and promote promote literacy, oral language, reading and writing for 8-12 year olds.

In schools it can be used as part of the Primary Language Curriculum.

It can be tied in with authors visits to schools and libraries and shared within organisational social media. It can also be used by parents or anyone else encouraging creativity in children.

The series also aims to promote contemporary Irish children’s fiction and the many talented writers in Ireland who are easily accessible to schools and libraries. Each episode helps children develop their story telling and writing skills with tailored writing advice from select Irish authors.

The Story Challenges in each episode allow children, individually or in groups, to put the authors’ writing advice into practice. Once a Story Challenge is completed, the young person’s or group’s work can be displayed to other readers on this website.

Each episode of The Story Thief Challenges is made up of three parts:

1. An ongoing, fictional story suitable for 8-12 year olds.

It’s a magical and exciting story set in contemporary Ireland that’s purported to be written by an eleven year old boy called Liam and his seven year old sister Aoife. These siblings go up against a mysterious figure called the Story Thief who steals story ideas from writers. Over the course of the twelve episodes of the series, the children battle to save their father and his stories and their own lives.

As a twelve episode series with an ongoing storyline, the episodes do need to be read in chronological order. The episodes are designed to be read aloud by teachers or other adults working with children. Each episode is illustrated with photographs and is approximately 2000 words long i.e. read out loud by an adult it would take approximately 15 minutes per episode. Due to the images the children could ideally read along and look at the images on interactive white boards or large computer screens. Episodes could also be read independently or  in pairs or small groups using tablets or print outs.

This series can be use to work on a number of reading comprehension skills, such as summarizing, predicting, and connecting this story to other stories. To assist in this, there are five simple recap questions given in the guidance for each individual episode (see links in drop down menu or at bottom of this section).  These can be asked to children once they’ve listened to or read the episode. Obviously questions can added to or substituted for these.

In addition, within each episode there is…

2. Writing advice from a different Irish children fiction author each month.

All participating authors have had novels published in Ireland or internationally in 2017 or 2018. All novels mentioned within this series were written for children between the 8-12 year old range. Writers who have already agreed to participate in the series, include Nigel Quinlan, Sinead O’Hart, ER Murray, Caroline Busher and Kieran Crowley.

Each author has a profile page on this site. This page lists the relevant books written by the authors’ and the author’s suggested reader age. Some novels referenced are more suited to 10-12 year old so parental and librarian guidance always recommended for choosing books for young readers.

The profile page provides links to author social media pages, books and contact information if you’d like to contact authors directly regarding events in schools, libraries, etc. An author visit can be extremely rewarding for children, particularly in encouraging reading and could be an exciting way of engaging children with this series.

Each author’s  writing advice is designed to engage young minds on a different aspect of writing and story telling.  There are recap questions for each writer’s advice given within the guidance for each individual episode. There are twelve monthly episodes and they’ll break down roughly into the following sections:

  • Episodes 1-3 take a broader look at story telling (thinking of stories, learning from reading, writing about own experience).
  • Episodes 4-9 look at the specifics of writing a story (starting a story, setting, character, conflict, use of the five sense, dialogue)
  • Episodes 10 -12 promote libraries and reading and writing in general.

As well as the writing advice in each episode, there is also…

3. A story challenge in each of the twelve episodes.

This story challenge is either set by the participating author or purported to be set by the mysterious Story Thief itself. It is an activity designed to put the writing advice given by the author into practice in a fun and lively way.

Each story challenge is different. Within the detailed guidance for each episode, there’s added information on how to use the story challenges with groups of children or individually in a classroom or other setting.

We’d love to see what the kids get up to! So once the story challenge has been completed then the final step is for teachers, librarians or others working with children to get in touch  with us and arrange for children’s work to be displayed in a bespoke section of this site.

Jump right in!

If you’d like to jump right in, you can read the first episode.
You can also contact or subscribe to the series to ensure you don’t miss an episode or if you have any questions or comments.
Note: The detailed guidance for each episode can be found in Guidance for Educators drop down menu above or at these following links:
Episode 1 Guidance