Once upon a time in a home not far away

Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 23:19

Can’t find the time to trawl the internet looking for fun creative ideas for the young writers and illustrators in your household? Don’t worry, we did! We’ve been casting a huge net over the internet researching authors and illustrators for our next Imagine a Story schools project. Yes, there is a light at the end of the home-school tunnel!

Imagine a Story is one of our primary schools projects at the Southbank Centre. Each year we work with a celebrated author and illustrator to support over a thousand schoolchildren to become published authors. We always try to find diverse and up-and-coming authors and illustrators who will help the children to see themselves in their writing, and maybe one day even see themselves as authors and illustrators, too. It’s pretty great! 

Imagine a Story

So we’re always on the lookout for engaging ways to get even the most reluctant writers and drawers excited about sharing their ideas. And whilst we’ve been researching, we’ve found some fantastic resources along the way. Here’s just a few for you to try at home.


Look Up! Reading and draw along

Puffin Storytime | Look Up! | Full read & draw-along activity | 20 mins

If you’re yet to discover astronaut-to-be Rocket and her amazing cat, Luna ….you’re welcome! Rocket is a spunky, space-obsessed little girl who wants the world to stop looking down at their phones and start looking up, to the stars. Nathan Bryon animatedly reads his gorgeous story to keep children engaged, and he makes sure that little ones can see all the pictures, too. 

And we get the chance to meet illustrator Dapo Adeola (this year’s Imagine a Story illustrator) to learn how to draw Luna in a step-by-step draw along. Daps is fantastic at showing drawings shared with him on Instagram, so be sure to share yours. This book, the first in a new series, is fast becoming a children’s classic.

Dapo Adeola on Instagram



Make Your Own Comic Book

If your children are fans of DogMan or The Phoenix serials, and they’re fast running out of funny comic book style reads, then it’s time to make your own! The Cartoon Museum hosts a collection of free online resources to get you started. Children can work on developing their characters with some how-to guides, complete some partially-written spreads, or just dive right in and create their own. 

Whether or not you use the resources, it’s easy peasy to draw six boxes on any piece of paper, and young people can fill them in by drawing their day, one box at a time, to create their own ‘Lockdown Chronicles’ graphic-novel. Batman-style ‘POW’ and ‘WHAM’ starbursts recommended!

The Cartoon Museum resources



Flash Fiction Fridays

Flash Fiction is what is says on the tin; fiction in a flash. Short fictional stories that still offer some plot and a bit of character, but encourage young writers to generate lots of little ideas and not worry too much about each one. And we mean really short – 500, 100, or even as few as 60 words or less! 

Though you can do this anywhere, anytime, once a week, quirky and imaginative Yorkshire bookshop Grimm & Co. are inviting authors to share a unique prompt on social media every Friday to spark your flash fiction story. Post yours to twitter with the hashtag #flashficfri and they’ll share their favourites that week. Our Imagine a Story author from this year, Sharna Jackson (above), shared her mystery-writing prompt a few weeks back, and it’s a great place to start. 

Grimm & Co.



A picture book a day

When reading with children it’s fun to throw in character voices and make sound effects yourself, but it can be exhausting too. Sometimes, all you want to do is look at pictures and be eased into another world by a soothing voice. 

Luckily, children’s publisher Nosy Crow has set up Stories Aloud. It’s a daily page-by-page read through of one of their beautiful picture books, with light-touch sound effects that help to add a bit of extra sparkle to story time. The link updates regularly so be sure to bookmark it, or have a go at making your own with a favourite in your home, using sound effects around your house. 

Nosy Crow ‘Stories Aloud’



Colouring in and making a monster

Imagine Children's Festival

If all this seems a bit too much right now, how about some nice therapeutic colouring in? Step (or lurch, or crawl) forward our imaginative monsters, created by and for children – with help from artist Jon Burgerman – and seen annually at our Imagine Children’s Festival. You can print and colour these in, or create your own character using the template. Maybe your Flash Fiction Friday story needs just such a monster to add the finishing touch? Children can let their imagination go wild (after all, how many eyes, arms, scales, wings can a monster have?) or just enjoy some colouring. You may have to stay inside right now, but you certainly don’t have to stay inside the lines.

download the monsters


Compiled by Marie Ortinau, Creative Learning Manager for Schools, on the Southbank Centre's Creative Learning Team.

more about our Creative Learning Team



The show must go on(line)

Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.

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As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. But now they’ve stopped. And it's a huge worry to us, and the people we work with. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.

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