The many ways our families can shape our personalities and guide our steps in life offer fascinating stories. We have selected six stories from The Thinking Train series to show different aspects of life in the family. These stories all treat us to a lesson about how sisters, brothers, parents and grandparents influence young children's lives.
Brothers and sisters
Two stories in the series tell us about life with siblings. Siblings can make you feel safe and comfortable, and sometimes they can also teach you an important lesson about honesty.
I can't sleep by Hebert Puchta and Gavin Biggs, illustrated by Francesca Assirelli - level a reader
In this bedtime story we read about Josh and Julia, who are ready for bed. They say goodnight to the moon and the stars. Then Julia closes the curtains and Josh turns on the lamp. Josh is very sleepy, but his little sister can’t sleep. Josh finds a way to help his little sister to go to sleep.
Tip: Ask children about their favourite bedtime stories.
The Three Seeds by Herbert Puchta and Günter Gerngross, illustrated by Maria Sole Macchia - level c reader
Lara, Colin and Dylan live with their parents on a farm in Ireland. One day the children ask for a pony. Their dad gives them three seeds and asks them to grow a flower. The child with the most beautiful flower will get the pony. However, this task is a test for the children, and we learn about the importance of being honest.
Tip: If possible, plant some seeds in class, and look after them all year round.
When the family helps
Sometimes the digital world can be such a distraction that children can get into trouble in their family life or at school. Two stories tell us about how the family can help children realise when they are getting too attached to their devices.
What are you doing, Daniel? by Herbert Puchta and Günter Gerngross, illustrated by Stefano Misesti - level b reader
Mum, Dad and Rosie want Daniel to help, but he's always busy. He's busy playing games on his computer. One evening, his sister Rosie has an idea. Now when Daniel wants some help, his mum, dad and sister are all busy. The story tells us about how Daniel can change and become more helpful.
Tip: If children in your class play computer games, ask them to track how much time they spend on playing games for a week.
Paul learns to plan by Herbert Puchta and Gavin Biggs, illustrated by Vanessa Lovegrove - level d reader
Paul needs to study for his tests in school, but he also needs to finish his online space game before the aliens take over. He finds tests very difficult: the more he tries to remember, the more he seems to forget! His parents and friends help him to find time to study and time to relax.
Tip: Write a to-do list for the week, and ask students to add time spent on fun and games to it. They learn that it is important to relax.
Friends vs. family
As children are growing up, they often find it difficult to spend time both with their friends and family. Sometimes it feels like the two are competing for attention. Two stories tell us about how two boys found balance between their family and their friends.
Let's play! by Herbert Puchta and Günter Gerngross, illustrated by Francesca Assirelli - level b reader
James' dad buys him lots of toys, and he plays lots of games with him, too. But James is always bored. Then one day his father gives James’ toys and games to the children next door. They are very happy and invite James to play with them. James learns that playing with his new friends is fun, and this helps him to appreciate playing with his dad, too.
Tip: Ask children how many toys they have, and which ones they like playing with their parents.
Monkey Island by Herbert Puchta and Gavin Biggs, illustrated by Rossella Trionfetti - level b reader
Tim is going on holiday with his family but he isn’t happy. He wants to stay at home and play with his friends. The airport is busy, the plane is noisy, even the children at the hotel aren’t nice: Tim hates everything! But then he goes to see the monkeys. The monkeys are cool... but are they? After his experience with the monkeys, he learns to enjoy being on holiday with his family and new friends.
Tip: Ask children to write down their top three holiday memories.