Online Safety Storybooks

Inspiring children (and indeed grown-ups) to engage in the online safety agenda doesn’t always have to mean that a high-tech approach is always needed! Sometimes a storybook can be a fantastic and yet simple way to help adults explore ideas, concepts and issues in a way that supports and engages young children in often complex and abstract ideas.  Online safety resources can sometimes assume that all adults have prior technical knowledge and awareness if they are to be able to explore and understand online concepts and risks and this can sometimes be a barrier to professionals feeling able to explore issues confidently with children within the classroom.  Story books provide amazing opportunities for teachers and parents to read together and learn with children and is a familiar task for adults which helps build our own confidence with the subject matter.  These books can be used to start conversations about online safety early (and often) and enable us to explore children’s knowledge and understanding about online behaviours and risks. Story books can enable adults to confidently facilitate age appropriate discussions about online behaviour as well as  considering the wider impact of modern technology on everyday values.

Following requests from schools, professionals and parents this blog post will highlight story books which can be useful to help education settings, professionals and parents/carers consider issues related to keeping children safe online. Where possible the post has included examples and/or linked to websites and activities to support teaching and learning using these resources. Activities, case studies and suggestions with the examples are often transferable for other resources and should be adapted by schools to meet the needs of their pupils.

Please comment below if you have any examples of using these resources that you would like to share or if you think any e-Safety stories are missing! This post will be updated with new resources and examples on a regular basis.

Please be aware that this post is not sponsored and should not be considered as an endorsement. Age recommendations are for guidance only and children’s needs and abilities should always be taken into account. Be aware that whilst this blog has linked to popular book selling sites for simplicity reasons, these books are also available via other popular retailers.

Books featured (4th August 2015):

  • Digiduck’s Big Decision
  • Chicken Clicking
  • Penguinpig
  • The internet is like a puddle
  • Webster’s email
  • Webster’s Bedtime
  • Webster’s Friend
  • Dot
  • It’s a book
  • When Charlie McButton Lost Power
  • Little Bird’s Internet Security Adventure

Digiduck’s Big Decision

  • By Lindsay Buck (Childnet International) and Ciara Flood
  • Available as an eBook, web version or an app here for free. Also available in hard copy.
  • Suitable for children aged 3-7 (also suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)

Digiduck is available in a variety of formats (including Spanish and Norwegian) and was produced by Childnet International to help Foundation Stage and KS1 children explore the idea of being a good online friend. Digiduck needs help to make a difficult decision about sharing photos online. Digiduck can be used to discuss issues such as online friendship, taking and sharing photos safely, online gaming and responsibility online. The Digiduck resource also compliments another e-Book by Childnet for children aged 3-7 called “Smartie the Penguin“. Lesson plans for Smartie can be downloaded here.

Examples/Activities

  • The Digiduck resource (as a hard copy book and also within the app) includes example questions for parents and professionals to use to discuss key ideas and topics with children.
  • An Infant school reported that they used this book as a basis for a special assembly where children acted out the story to pupils and parents as part of Safer Internet Day. Each class had its own Digiduck mascot to look after, which helps remind them to keep safe whenever they go online.
  • A school used Digiduck with year 2 pupils. The school asked pupils to take turns to take home a cuddly Digiduck toy for the weekend and asked pupils to write a diary about how they helped to keep Digiduck safe at home.  Parents, family members and siblings were also invited to contribute a comment about how they also helped keep Digiduck safe!
  • A Children’s Centre used the Digiduck book to create story sacks for parents to borrow and take home and use with their children.
  • Kent Libraries ran Digiduck story time sessions for parents and children as part of the celebrations for Safer Internet Day (with a copy of Digiduck available to borrow in all main KCC libraries)
  • The Kent e-Safety officer read the Digiduck story to KS1 children across Kent via Skype for Business (video conferencing) as part of Safer Internet Day 2015 celebrations. This allowed children to explore the story an also gave them the opportunity to experience safe video conferencing and positive online behaviour.
  • An early years setting ordered hard copies of the Digiduck book and gave a copy to every child as a leaving present.
  • A School used Digiduck to create avatars (based on the book character) to help children consider how they can keep safe online.  The school used Digiduck to facilitate discussions about online behaviour and pupils were encouraged to produce posters to help Digiduck remember how to behave.  They also used character puppets to retell the stories and made masks for drama activities. You can see pictures of the schools Digiduck activities here!
  • A Secondary school used the Spanish version of Digiduck with students to support them in developing speaking and listening skills.
  • A School used Digiduck and Smartie as part of a transition story-time and invited parents to attend and listen which meant that both children and parents were engaged in online safety. This helped to support the school in developing a partnership and cohesive approach to online safety education both at home and at school from the very start of children’s journeys.

Chicken Clicking 

Chicken Clicking explores the story of a little chick that sneaks into the farmer’s house at night and buys herself and her farmyard friends lots of gifts. Chicken Clicking also uses the internet to go online and meet a new friend but all is not as it seems! This story is a 21st century version of the “Chicken Licken” fairy story, a familiar tale for both adults and children and provides opportunities for discussion about keeping safe online. Chicken Clicking can be used to discuss issues such as password safety, supervision, posting personal information, taking/sharing photos, meeting online friends and trust/reliability. Examples/Activities

  • An Infant school reported that they used this book as a basis for a special assembly where children acted out the story to other pupils and parents as part of Safer Internet Day. The school asked the audience to consider how they could help keep Chicken Clicking and themselves safe online.  The school used Chicken Clicking to facilitate discussions about online behaviour and pupils were encouraged to produce posters to help chicken clicking remember how to be safe online.  They also used character puppets to retell the stories and made masks for drama activities.
  • A Primary school used this book with older (KS2 and SEND) pupils and asked them to write their own digital fairy stories to help children consider other online safety risks.
  • Kent Libraries ran Chicken Clicking story time sessions with young children and parents as part of the celebrations for Safer Internet Day
  • A school used Chicken Clicking with year 1 pupils and encouraged them to think about different scenarios they could find themselves in online. The children then mind mapped ideas to help them consider how to keep safe online.  Read their class blog post here
  • A school used Chicken Clicking to explore password safety with pupils as the famer doesn’t secure his laptop – the school discussed the importance of passwords as a safety mechanism with pupils and discussed how to use strong passwords. A useful resource to support this would be from Digitally Confident, available  here

Penguinpig

Written by primary school teacher, Stuart, Penguinpig is a story about a little girl who finds out about a magical creature online but her parents are too busy to help her so she sets off to find one. Penguinpig is a rhyming book which explores the issues of reliability online and the need to be aware that not everything online is true! Penguinpig can be used to discuss the issue of reliability and trust online with children. The main message within Penguinpig is that sometimes people use the internet to lie or trick other people and strongly emphasises that children should always check content with a trusted adult. Examples/Activities

  • The Penguinpig website links to ideas, recommendations and suggestions
  • The Teaching Ideas website has Literacy, Computing, Design Technology and Art ideas and suggestions to support the use of Penguinpig here
  • A search on Twitter for #Penguinpig will also reveal ideas shared online by schools and settings.
  • You can buy the Penguinpig book with a set of EYFS lesson plans to use here

The Internet is like a Puddle

  • By Shona Innes and Irisz Anocs.
  • Suitable for children aged 3-9 (may also be suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)
  • Available here and here

“The internet is like a puddle” uses the analogy of a puddle to explore both the fun and positive side of the internet but also to help children understand that there are often hidden risks below the surface. The book emphasises the importance of adults helping children to keep safe but also encourages children to listen to their gut instinct when something doesn’t feel right or safe online. The Internet is a like a Puddle can be used to discuss issues such as seeing upsetting content and talking to an adult. Examples/Activities

  • The back of book contains notes aimed at parents and professionals, from author and psychologist  Shona Innes

Webster’s Email

  • By Hannah Whaley.
  • Suitable for children aged 3-8 (may also be suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)
  • Available here and here

Webster’s Email is a rhyming story that explores the idea of sharing content online and how quickly things can be shared. Webster the little spider emails a funny picture of his sister but it quickly is forwarded to lots of people and throughout the book, children can count how many people end up seeing the picture. This book encourages children to be aware that once a picture has been shared online, it can’t’ always be removed and it is very hard to control. Webster’s Email can be used to discuss email etiquette, over sharing, being kind online, taking/sharing photos, meeting strangers online and using technology responsibly. Examples/Activities

  • Useful links can be found here
  • There is an accompanying activity book here or here
  • The book has a counting theme so can be used to support numeracy development.

Webster’s Bedtime

  • By Hannah Whaley.
  • Suitable for children aged 3-8 (may also be suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)
  • Available here and here

Webster’s Bedtime is a rhyming story which explores the need for us all to switch off from screens and internet, especially at bedtime. The story acknowledges that this is often easier said than done and enables children to think about the impact technology can have. Webster’s Bedtime can be used to discuss using technology responsibly, screen time, balanced use, gaming and using mobile phones and tablets responsibly. Examples/Activities

  • Useful links can be found here

Webster’s Friend

  • By Hannah Whaley.
  • Suitable for children aged 3-8 (may also be suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)
  • Available here and here

Webster’s friend is arhyming  story that explores the idea of making an online friend. Webster the spider meets a new online friend who he wants to impress but he isn’t honest about who he is. Things taking a surprising turn when Websters new friend wants to meet him! Webster’s Friend introcudes the concept of online friends to young children and highlights the fact that anyone can lie online due to the anonymity of the internet. Webster’s friend can be used to discuss meeting strangers online, gaming, reliability, trust, speaking to an adult and using technology responsibly.

Examples/Activities

  • Children could disucss who Webster could have kept himself safe and what he should do if an online friend wants to meet up
  • Children could role play Webster’s Friend and create alternative endings.

Dot

  • By Randi Zuckerberg and Joe Berger
  • Suitable for children aged 3-8 (may also be suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)
  • Available here and here

Dot explores the story of a little girl called Dot who is very good at using technology.  Dot knows how to tap, swipe and share online, but seems to have forgotten how to do things in the world – she then has fun exploring all the ways she can tap, swipe and share offline. Dot is written by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Dot explores the need for children to balance internet use with offline world fun and can be used to discuss using technology responsibly and the need for children to explore the world both on and offline. Dot doesn’t demonise technology as the cause for Dot forgetting how to play offline and clearly shows that both on and offline play can be fun and exciting activities. Examples/Activities

  • Offline activities to print and use with Dot, including dot-to-dot and handwriting activities here.
  • One school used Dot with with their Year 5 pupils who have 1:1 iPads. The school asked pupils to use the story as inspiration for creating posters to share with younger students (see comments section)

It’s a Book

  • By Lane Smith
  • Suitable for children aged 3-8 (may also be suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)
  • Available here and here

It’s a Book explores the role of books in a digital age via a humorous discussion between an IT-savvy donkey, a book-loving ape and a mouse. It’s a Book can be used to discuss using technology safely and responsibly and also the different ways children can read and have fun both on and offline. Examples/Activities

  • The Teaching Ideas website has Literacy, Computing,  Maths, Design Technology, Art, Geography and History ideas here
  • Walker Books has classroom activity ideas for the resource here

When Charlie McButton Lost Power

Charlie McButton explores the story of a little boy who likes computer games so much he never plays with anything the else. When a thunderstorm knocks out the electricity his tech empire comes tumbling down. Charlie needs batteries fast the only ones he can find are in his little sisters talking doll. Will he resort to desperate measures and cause his sister to have a meltdown of her own or will he snap out of his computer craze long enough to realize his sister might be fun even if she doesn’t come with batteries?!

When Charlie McButton Lost Power can be used to explore addiction and gaming and the need for children to balance technology with offline fun. The book can be used to discuss empathy, using technology responsibly (including screen time)  and the need for children to explore and relationships both on and offline.

Examples/Activities

Little Bird’s Internet Security Adventure

  • Story by Jim Mercado and Siobhan MacDermott. Written by Marlo Garnsworthy. Illustrations by Tracy Spencer.
  • Suitable for children aged 3-8 (also be suitable for KS2/SEND pupils)
  • Available as a PDF here or an app

Little Bird is the story of a bird who wants to wish her grandma a happy birthday over the computer. With the help of her parents, Little Bird has learned how to be safe online but her animal friends haven’t been so lucky and they need her help. Little bird shares her knowledge with them along her journey home.

Little Bird can be used to discuss how to deal with pop-ups, requests for personal information, online bullies and spam websites, as well as the reinforcing the need for children to speak to a trusted adult if they encounter something online that makes them feel worried, sad or uncomfortable.

Examples/Activities

Other Examples (suitable for all books highlighted)

  • Schools and settings have reported that they have run competitions for children and their wider communities based on the e-Safety messages highlighted within the books and some have even given away copies of the books as prizes!
  • All books could be used as part of transition events e.g. story time sessions for new reception children and parents. This is a great way to start engaging  parents early and to develop a shared approach to online safety.
  • Many of these stories lend themselves very well to drama activities such as hot seating (taking on roles of characters) and tableaux (acting out a scene and making changes) with older children
  • Schools have left copies of resources available in open access areas, such as school reception so parents can look at resources whilst waiting
  • Schools are placing copies of these books in their library collections so children can borrow them and take them home to read with parents/carers.

School Credits:

Discovery School and Thurnham Infant School

Additional thanks for resources, examples and suggestions:

Childnet International, Stuart Spendlow, Stephen Lockyer , Karl Hopwood, Professional Online Safety Helpline, and Teaching Ideas

Last updated/published 4th August 2015.

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This entry was posted in Childnet, e-Safety, Early Years, Early Years Resources, Primary Resources, Schools, SEN and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Online Safety Storybooks

  1. TeacherCat says:

    Thanks for this – we used Dot with our Year 5 who have 1:1 iPads and got them to use it as inspiration for creating posters to share with younger students – they really loved it!

  2. I have just purchased the list of books on Amazon! Can’t wait 🙂 Already have It’s a book which I have read to the children and plan to use the rest as starters for the relevant lessons and as a resource they can read themselves afterwards 🙂 Thanks!

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