Kipling for Schools

Kipling  teaching children how to write

At the Society we have been  delighted to be approached recently by a teacher whose Year Five pupils have been excited by the Just-So stories and are now writing their own. 

If there are other teachers out there, or other parents, who have similar projects to report, or who plan such, we’d love to hear from you. Please email Mary Hamer on In the past we have run a competition for children’s Just-So  stories. If a number of schools were interested we might consider running it again.  Mary Hamer

A new venture for the Kipling Society in 2015

 Kipling is one of the world’s great writers for young people, with the Just So Stories and their accompanying poems for little children, the Jungle Books, which many people have encountered in childhood and never forgotten, and many stories and poems which can be read with profit and pleasure by people of all ages.

We have established the John Slater Memorial prize for Sixth-forms, but we feel it will be well worthwhile to do more to reach younger children, and encourage and support Kipling-related activity in their classrooms and outside them. To help make this happen we are keen to establish a network of interested teachers so that we can be guided by their experience, hence this web-site.

Writing with Kipling, 2019
The John Slater Competition


Mary Hamer writes: This has been a creative writing prize for children who will be in Year 5 from September 2018 to July 2019, run by The Kipling Society. Entering continues to give teachers and children enormous pleasure and has provoked some brilliant work: see the examples to the right.


It is for an original story of roughly 500 words inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s stories for children, in particular his Just So Stories for Little Children.

The prizes

The 1st prize is £50 of book tokens for the winning child and £150 or its value in books or book tokens for the child’s school. There are 2nd and 3rd prizes of lower value. A £10 book token is given for the winning entry from each school.


We asked each teacher to sift the entries from a different school, selecting the top 5 from that batch, with choices forwarded to the Society shortly after the Easter Holidays in April.

The top two entries from each school were chosen by members of the Council of the Kipling Society and forwarded to the judge, the writer Laura Freeman. Previous judges have been the children’s authors Ros Asquith and Lee Weatherly, and the novelist David Mitchell.


The stories have been judged according to the way in which the story has engaged with Kipling’s writing in order to produce an original piece of work. Specifically, the stories will be judged for:

  • Plot
  • Character
  • Language
  • Enjoyment
  • Originality


The Hamilton Education Trust has generously given permission for us to give schools special access to their materials for teaching Kipling to year 5. The material on the Just So Stories features in weeks 2 and 3 of the plan (some of the materials focus on The Jungle Book which is not relevant for this year’s prize)

We hope that our notes on Just So Stories, and the New Readers’ Guide more generally, also stimulate ideas.

Angela Eyre writes: When the Society first started thinking about a creative writing prize for primary school children we were delighted to discover that children in Prettygate Junior School in Colchester had already been using the Just So Stories as inspiration to write their own.

Nathan Crame, Deputy Head of Prettygate, writes:

In Year 5 last year (2014), we planned to teach a unit of work, as per the new National Curriculum, to cover Classic Fiction. We found the Trust plans and resources for teaching classic fiction through the work of Rudyard Kipling to be engaging, interesting, challenging and ultimately fulfilling.

We started by looking at excerpts from The Jungle Book and “Rikki-tikki Tavi”, quickly moving onto Just So Stories. We had a range of texts, audio files and video clips in order to make the stories appealing to all the pupils. Emphasis was placed on the fun and inventiveness of the stories, not only for the imaginative narrative but the playful use of language as well. Having read several of the Just So tales, the children were so excited to hear that they would be able to choose their own animal to research and write about, and decide how it came by its distinctive feature.

We have two classes of 32 in each year group, but last year we decided to split Year 5 into three sets for English and Maths – I taught the top groups of 18 pupils in each subject, so these stories were written by the most able Year 5s last year. 3 or 4 of these students may gain places at local grammar schools, and approx 10-12 are working above age-related expectations.

The current Year 5s are working in two mixed ability classes this year. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about Kipling last year and I was delighted with the pupils’ responses.

We were very pleased to be approached by Angela at the Kipling Society to discuss the concept of a writing prize and I look forward to hearing how the profile of Rudyard Kipling is raised amongst other 10 year olds as the year goes on. [N.C.]

Prettygate School have very kindly agreed to let us put some of these stories up on this site. We think they are great and that Kipling would have thoroughly approved.

Just So Stories
for Little Children, September 1902

The Just So poems

The prizewinning tales, 2019

Laura Freeman

We have been tremendously grateful to Laura Freeman (left) for judging this year’s competition. She has written that ‘language poverty is the new threat to our children’.

We believe that ‘Writing with Kipling’ addresses that threat by firing children’s imagination, and encouraging them to explore language freely through story-telling, with the example of the words and pictures of a great writer.

Laura explains why this year’s prize-winning stories stood out:

When I visited Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s house in Sussex, earlier this year, I overheard a mother say to her son: “This house belonged to the man who wrote The Lion King”. I wanted to howl like a wolf, beat my chest like a gorilla and squawk like a cockatoo. For Kipling, as we all know, O Best Beloveds, is the man who wrote The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories. I can only hope that by the time the family had been round Bateman’s they had a rather better idea of How the Camel got his Hump, How the Rhinoceros got his Skin and how Rudyard Kipling came to be a journalist, author and writer of boundless ‘magination.

Happily, a great many schoolchildren do know that Rudyard Kipling is the man who wrote about Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera, the beginning of the armadilloes and the crab that played with the sea. The stories submitted to the Writing With Kipling competition were wonderfully inventive and varied. Some stories captured the rhythms of Kipling’s playful prose. Others ended in unexpected transformations. The winners each combine beguiling storytelling voices with ingenious plots.

What a great gift Taffimai Metallumai (but we are going to call her Taffy) gave to the world when she wrote the first letter and later made the alphabet.

My congratulations to all ten shortlisted writers, but especially to First Prize Winner Isla (“How the Panda Lost its Colour”), to Second Prize Winner Harry (“How the Ostrich Got His Neck”) and to Third Prize Winner Lola (“How The Parrot Got Her Colours”).

Also highly commended are Evie (“How The Dog Got Her Bark”) and Aliya (“How The Kangaroo Got Its Pouch”).

First Prize – Isla (Greenleaf Primary School, Walthamstow)

“How the Panda Lost its Colour”
The Panda’s Story is beautifully told in a voice that dances across the page: ‘Instead of munching and crunching she nibbled and bibbled. instead of slurping and burping she sipped and dipped…’ It is a wonderfully visual story, too, as the rainbow-coloured Panda meets a succession of monochrome fellow animals from Zebras and Racoons, to Skunks and Magpies. The Story ends with the (naturally shy) Panda’s radiant colours washed away by a great flood. ‘From then on, Pandas have been black and white, Yin and Yang, O Best Beloved, for as long as one could remember.’

Second Prize – Harry (Forres Sandle Manor School, Fordingbridge)

“How the Ostrich Got His Neck”
An intelligent and vigorously told story that reads like a convincing work of natural history. The central image of the Ostrich trying to shake off a squiggly wiggly rock snake wrapped around his neck is both alarming and very funny.

Third Prize – Lola (Babington House School, Chislehurst)

“How The Parrot Got Her Colours”
This bright, bold and brave story has a dull parrot flying into a tree full of fruits and berries that dye her feathers into magnificent colours. An uplifting, thoughtful story with some lovely supporting characters in the Snake by the lake, the Pheasant in the desert, the Chimpanzees in the trees and the Giraffe on the grass.

Highly Commended – Evie (Greenleaf Primary School, Walthamstow)

“How The Dog Got Her Bark”
A lively, cacophonous story about a Dog hounded by noises in the night – all the crashing and bashing and the dancing and prancing of the chaotic city’ – who in the end finds a voice with which to bark back. A lively tale told with great spirit.

Highly Commended – Aliya (The Study, Wimbledon)

“How The Kangaroo Got Its Pouch”
This story gives readers an irresistible leading lady in the shape of a kangaroo who sits on a chaise longue eating grapes that she has made her poor, neglected Joey peel. A story with a sense of humour and mischief.

Mainak Ghosh

Prizewinning tale, 2017

Prizewinning tales, 2016

Ismael Guissous
Martha Morgan
  • “How the Dragon Got his Flame” by Martha Morgan, Greenleaf Primary School

  • Also highly commended: Kameron Mills (Brampton), Finn Rattray (Prettygate), Anisa Ahmed (North), Mary Jane Goodwin (St Margaret’s, Poppy Rolfe (Prettygate), Frank Thorpe (Brampton).

Tales from Prettygate Junior School, 2014

The Just So Stories
The Jungle Books