10 Travel Tales for National Storytelling Week and World Book Day

By Alison Holland

Published: January 26, 2018


Are you ready for a story? National Storytelling Week starts tomorrow (27 January… until 3 February), and World Book Day is coming up (1 March). The flexibility of these popular events means they can be used by educators to inspire learning and interest in many different areas… including how pupils travel to school.

We love the idea of using these events to look at the theme of safe, active travel choices in children’s literature. Activities built around this can encourage them to make better travel choices and also help your school achieve accreditation for travel awards such as Modeshift STARS.

So with the help of children’s author/school travel professional Rob Bounds we’ve put together some ideas to help you, including a peek at his book A Rabbit’s Tale and another nine of our favourite travel tales.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…

1. The Story Behind the Story – A Rabbit’s Tale by Rob Bounds and Neil Hunt

Available to purchase from Brightkidz

Written by Rob Bounds & illustrated by Neil Hunt, the story was inspired by a tradition Rob’s mum instigated during his childhood to beat the boredom of long car journeys with a wildlife i-spy game of looking out for animals and birds in roadside fields, hedges and verges. Dedicated to his nieces and nephews the story is the first in a series of story books created by Rob as gifts for his niblings* with the message of this tale drawing on the bright examples found in nature to remind pedestrians to be bright and seen too. (*Rob’s word of the day).

Having been employed in the world of active and sustainable travel since 2004, Rob has also previously worked in road safety, teaching and environmental education.

‘Collaborating with Brightkidz has been a great way to bring the message of A Rabbit’s Tale to a wider audience as well as providing the opportunity to develop other related classroom activities’, he says. Here Rob and I are having a read of his book.

Activity Ideas: The story can be used to explore and lead discussions about materials, objects and living things that are reflective, fluorescent or emit light. Pupils can create their own ideas for some high visibility wear for themselves or their own bright bunny using this template. Pupils can also expand and retell the story using other characters inspired from the Brightkidz mascot range and other dazzling examples in nature such as the headlight beetle, fox fire and the railroad worm!

You could even make your own story sack with all the characters from the story.

2. Why Animals Can’t Ride Scooters and You Can by Darren Ruddell and Seamus Hilley/Serious Comedy

Available to purchase from Brightkidz

The hare isn’t a good scooter rider. He rides too fast and loses some fur from his bottom. Find out how all the animals learn from their scooter mistakes and help teach children how to ride their own scooters safely.

Activity Ideas: Encourage safe scooting to school by starting a scooter club or running a scooter training session or even a scooter disco with help from an organisation such as Scootfit. For more ideas on promoting scooting and scooter safety see our Let’s Scoot to School blog.

3. Why Animals Can’t Ride Bikes and You Can by Darren Ruddell and Seamus Hilley/Serious Comedy

Available to purchase from Brightkidz

Following on from the success of their ‘scooter’ book, the guys at Serious Comedy came up with this great book to promote safe cycling in a fun and visual way. Find out about the funny problems the animals have riding a bike such as the hammerhead shark who can’t find a helmet to fit.

Activity Ideas: Use the book as an introduction to a class discussion about safe cycling. Hold a balance bike session for pupils who have not yet learned to ride a bike. Have a bike safety check session where pupils learn the M check; how to make sure a bike is ready for use. See our cycle maintenance tips.

4. Flying Fergus by Chris Hoy

The Flying Fergus series was created by Olympic gold-medal cyclist Chris Hoy with award-winning author Joanna Nadin. Find out about the adventures of Fergus Hamilton and the secret fantasy land his bike takes him to. This will hopefully inspire your pupils to get into cycling!

Activity Ideas: For a chance to win £5,000 worth of books for your school enter the Flying Fergus and the World Book Day Award 2018 and show how your school is flying high with reading. Plus, the winning school will receive a visit from the Flying Fergus team!  For more information on how to enter and top tips for success, visit the Flying Fergus WoBoD Award page hereEnter by Monday 12th February 2018 for your chance to win this UK competition. Good luck!

5. Mrs Armitage on Wheels by Quentin Blake

The ultimate “pimp my bike” story – Mrs Armitage just can’t help thinking of ways to improve her bicycle.

Actvity ideas: “Bling your bike” for a day with crafty creative materials, maybe with a special theme. Or for longer term benefit, bling your bike with cut-out stick-on reflective shapes which will help you to be brighter too (just make sure nothing can catch moving parts). This also signs off cycling initiative C15 in ModeshiftSTARS.

6. The Bike Lesson by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Cycle safety presented in the style of “this is how not to do it”. A fun way to spot the error of how Father Bear rides and to discuss how to be a safer cyclist.

Activity ideas: Pupils can create posters or a classroom display on their top tips for cyclists.

7. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School… by Benjamin Chaud

An ever increasing series of wild ‘excuses’ for being late for school provides an opportunity for pupils to let their imagination run wild to think of other exciting things that could happen on the way to school.

Activity ideas: Use the book as a stimulus for a writing task where pupils tell their own creative story about an exciting journey to school.

8. When Titus Took the Train by Anne Cottringer & Sarah McIntyre

A long and potentially boring train journey is filled with fun, imagination and adventure.

Activity Ideas: Make and play the board game here or devise your own version! Talk about train journeys you have been on. Take your pupils by train for a class trip; travelling sustainably for out-of-classroom activities goes towards Modeshift STARS accreditation. It also teaches them about long journey alternatives to car travel… so they develop good travel habits for life.

9. Two Left Feet by Jenny Sullivan

Bryn has to use a walking frame but makes it to the top of the castle tower on a school trip. This is about overcoming a range of challenges with a positive and determined attitude. It touches on issues such as disability, bullying, friendship and inclusion.

Activity Ideas: A chance to learn about the challenges some people face when travelling and how we can include everyone in active travel initiatives, eg look at photos of adapted cycles and paralympic athletes’ achievements.  Also, discuss how to overcome any bullying on the school journey eg setting up a buddy scheme for the walk or bus journey to school.

10. Gus, the Dinosaur Bus by Julia Liu

Gus is the perfect sustainable way of travelling to school – although he does cause some chaos on the way. How can Gus keep up the good work of being a dinosaur bus?

Activity Ideas: Design a dinosaur friendly city with dino names for different modes of active travel – Walkosaurus, Trike-ceratops, scooterlots.

Do you know of any other books which can help inspire good travel habits? Please let us know in the Comments below.

Many thanks to Rob Bounds for his contributions to this article.