About us

Start The Story is a bi-monthly digital magazine created by children’s authors, Tommy Donbavand and Barry Hutchison. Aimed at teachers, librarians and anyone who wants to promote literacy among children. Each issue is crammed with writing tips, lesson plans, book reviews, author interviews and much more.

We’ll have competitions where your pupils could win anything from a book token to a free Skype session with a top author.  We’ll recommend great reads for everyone in your class – from the most enthusiastic story scoffer to the reluctant readers.  And we’ll dig into our years of experience in teaching creative writing to make sure you have everything you could ever need to get your children starting stories of their own.

Our first issue is available free of charge, but to get your hands on it you’ll have to become a free member. It’s a painless process which will take under a minute, and no payment details of any kind are requested.

Below is our first press release which was sent to UK media shortly after our launch on 30th June 2012.


Award-winning children’s authors, Barry Hutchison and Tommy Donbavand, have launched a new digital magazine designed to help boost literacy levels in schools.

“Start the Story” is aimed at teachers, librarians, parents and anyone else with an interest in getting children excited about reading and writing. It was conceived by the pair following discussions with teachers they met during their many visits to schools.

“After my writing workshops teachers would come up and ask if they could use some of the techniques I’d demonstrated in their future lessons,” says Barry. “I was doing some pretty basic stuff on creating characters, and so was amazed when they said they’d never seen anything like it.”

“A lot of teachers are really excited by creative writing,” adds Tommy, “but often they’ve never been shown how to break it down into fun, interactive lessons that will really engage their pupils. We decided we might be able to help out with that.”

They decided to publish a bi-monthly online magazine packed with writing activities, story prompts, pupil worksheets and a complete lesson plan in every issue, almost all of which can be used or adapted for any age range from primary into middle secondary.

The authors realised that getting pupils excited about writing was only half the battle, though, so each edition also contains recommended books for all reading abilities.

“Teachers rarely have the time to keep up with what’s happening in children’s publishing, so we pack out the magazine with our suggestions for everything from picture books to young adult novels,” Barry explains. “We try to target boys mostly, but there are plenty of books in there that girls will enjoy, too.”

The first issue of Start the Story launched on Friday 30th June, following a three page sneak preview which went online on Wednesday evening. The authors had set a target of five registered website users by the Friday launch. They passed that figure within a few minutes of the sneak preview going online. By Friday morning they had well over a hundred sign-ups, thanks largely to teachers and librarians tweeting excitedly about the project. Authors including Neil Gaiman and Irvine Welsh also helped spread the word.

Issue one of Start the Story is available free of charge at www.startthestory.co.uk. A one-year subscription to the magazine costs £24, and schools are free to distribute both the magazine and the pupil worksheets around their staff at no extra cost.

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