Guidance for educators

General guidance on using the Story Thief Challenges with children

The series is aimed to entertain and to promote promote literacy, oral language, reading and writing for 8-12 year olds. In schools it can be used 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 working with children.

The series is also designed to promote Irish children’s fiction writers as there are so many amazing writers in Ireland who are easily accessible to schools and libraries.

If you’d like to jump right in, there’s a short preview of the series which gives you a sense of how it works or go ahead and read the first episode here. You can subscribe to the series to ensure you don’t miss an episode.

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

  1. An ongoing fictional story suitable for being read by or to 8-12 year olds. It is magical and exciting and set in contemporary Ireland. It’s about an eleven year old boy Liam and his seven year old sister Aoife going up against a mythical 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. In order to get help to beat the Story Thief the children get…
  2. Writing advice from a different Irish children fiction author in each of the twelve episodes. All authors have had books published in Ireland or internationally in 2017 or 2018. Writers include Nigel Quinlan, Sinead O’Hart, ER Murray, Caroline Busher and Kieran Crowley. The writing advice is designed to engage young minds on a different aspect of writing and story telling each month. There’s also a profile page for all featured authors which provides links to their social media pages, books and contact information if you’d like to invite them for an event. Also the story advice given by each author ties in with …
  3. A story challenge in each of the twelve episodes given by the author or by the Story Thief himself. This story challenge can be done individually or by groups or children in the classroom and other settings. It puts the writing advice given by the authors into practice in a fun and lively way. There’s also further suggestions given below on how to use each specific story challenge individually or in groups in different settings.

Finally if you have any more questions or if you do use the Story Challenges as an activity with kids and would like share their work on this website please get in touch.

Guidance on each episode’s Story Challenges

Episode one: Author Nigel Quinlan

‘I have a Story Challenge for you, to help you with your story thinking: Close your eyes, then open them and pick the first thing you see. Or open a dictionary and choose the first word your finger points to. Or ask a friend or family member what they’re thinking about right now.

Now that you’ve picked something, think about how you would use it to make a story. It can be serious or silly, long or short – any kind of story you like. Ask questions in your mind. What? Why? Where? What if…? What would happen if…?

Now write down your story, or tell it to someone.’

This Story Challenge needs to be used in the context of the young people having read or having heard the full episode one. Once it’s been read then:

How to do the challenge with an individual child?: This specific challenge suits individual work perfectly. Allow the child to undertake this challenge themselves and then tell you the story or read it to you. Let them choose what they object they build their story around. There’s no right answer so any story they come up with is to be celebrated.

How to do the challenge with a group?: This could be done individually by children in a classroom or other setting then each child could tell or read their story to the entire group if by those children comfortable with this. Small groups could pick an item and each think of a story about it and surprise each other with how different their stories are. A group of children could be challenged to see how long it could quietly think about their item with you timing them and trying to get a record time. All the completed stories could be put up on the wall together to show the sheer variety. Kids could do their story in comic book or poster form.

Variations on this challenge?:There are lots of different ways to pick the object of the story. You could pour out a random selection of objects to choose from. You could have the children look for something they’ve never noticed in a classroom or library setting. You could pick just one idea to demonstrate how many different stories can emerge from the same object. The only limit is your imagination.

As suggested earlier, it might be a great motivation to the child or group of children that their finished work might get featured on the Story Thief Website so get in touch with Oran if you’d like to do that.