Topics | Myths and Legends

I think Myths and Legends provide some of the best writing stimuli out there. They are always slightly crazy and unbelievable, but time and time again they book children in and encourage some of the best writing. Here are four of my favourite books for teaching Myths and Legends:

The Orchard Book of Roman Myths, Geraldine McCaughrean

I first came to this book while searching for books to match with my Romans topic, and I have been enamoured with it ever since. Less well known than Greek Myths (and mostly cribbed from them!!), this book introduces children to the strange world of Roman Myths. It has beautiful illustrations and fantastic language models. My favourite has to be the myth of Erisychthon who was cursed to eat himself to death after chopping down some of Ceres’ sacred trees. Gruesome, yes, but utterly engrossing – or should I say engorging! I think it is out of print now, but I hunted mine down by using Click and Collect. Try here?

Beowulf, Michael Morpugo

Simply, this is a fantastic retelling of a classic story. Broken up into three stories, this is definitely one easy to segment and dip in and out of for different writing topics. Morpugo has obviously adapted and incorporated some of the Old English / Norse textual features (such as kennings and epithets) which I really enjoy, and provide a good jumping off point for teaching. I’m also currently really enjoying his retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well! Order here.

The Great Snake, Sean Taylor

I LOVE THIS BOOK! I discovered this when it was left in my classroom cupboard as part of the Amazon topic, and I have absolutely loved reading it and teaching each. Every year, children rave about this book and its incredible stories. My two favourites are The Great Snake and The Curupira – trust me when I say the stories sound mad but they are incredible. Just find it and treasure it forever! Unfortunately, it seems out of print – I hunted mine down from the US so it wasn’t too expensive. Try here or here!

Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki, Kevin Crossely-Holland

This book is so beautifully illustrated that it is worth having just for that! It has the most incredible and artistic illustrations to accompany the different tales from Norse mythology. What I really like about this book, however, is that it uses the first few pages to introduce the nature of myths and the key players. I think that it makes it really clear and accessible for children, and is definitely engaging. Would work really well with Arthur and the Golden Rope to create links and further flesh out the mythos. Enjoy!

These are all fantastic books for writing units, and also just read alouds for children in KS1 and KS2. Let me know if you’d be interested in more detail about how I plan writing around a text!



Author Focus | Jacqueline Wilson

I think Jacqueline Wilson has to be one of my favourite children’s authors, and that’s why I’ve chosen her for my first Author Focus. I want to look at different authors and illustrators, and round up my top picks from their canon. Jacqueline Wilson has the perfect style for KS2 and KS3 readers as she moves through the trials and tribulations of childhood, and early adolescence. She is able to provide windows into different types of families and experiences, while creating likeable characters that you root for. Here is where I would start with Jacqueline Wilson:


The Cat Mummy is a perfect starter for younger readers as it is easy to read and its themes aren’t too heavy. Verity hides the death of her beloved cat Mabel using some of the Egyptian techniques she has learnt in school. Perfect for introducing the idea of death or thinking about pets, and very easy to empathise with the protagonist.


The Lottie Project is again another story without heavy themes that introduces readers to the time flip narrative structure. It looks at the lives of Charlie and Lottie, and helps Charlie think about her problems as she studies the Victorians. Another easy read, and would be a great independent read when studying the Victorians!


Lola Rose is the first of the heavier books on this list, and I would say is much more appropriate for Upper KS2 and above. It looks at the tale of Jayni as she escapes from her bad-tempered father with her mother and brother. The theme of domestic violence means it wouldn’t be appropriate for younger readers. Harrowing and gripping in equal parts though.


The Illustrated Mum contains one of the most heartbreaking scenes in fiction and one that has stayed with me since my first reading. It looks at the lives of Dolphin and Star, and their unconventionally tattooed mother Marigold. Amazon describes it as a ‘heartbreaking tale about family, mental health and strong sisterly love’ and I think that sums it up in a nutshell. My favourite of all Wilson’s books, this will stick with you forever.

I could really keep going forever with the suggestions, some others I love include: Vicky Angel, Bad Girls, Double Act, Midnight… I think Jacqueline Wilson is the perfect for your reluctant girl readers in Year 5 and 6 who tend to like gritty stories about girls like them. The Girls In Love series is fantastic for young teens, and addresses some key issues about self-esteem and boys! Let me know what authors you’d like to see next in this series.