It's the fourth instalment of our Branching Out series which explores ways in which SCBWI members have diversified into multiple areas of creativity. This week, Production Editor Tracy Curran talks to children's author Tamsin Cooke, who also writes educational texts, including Rewilding Children's Imaginations.

Rewilding Children's Imaginations is an educational text aimed at parents and teachers. It's aim is to use folktales and storytelling to encourage children to get creative outdoors.

Hi Tamsin, you write children’s fiction and have also released an educational resource book called Rewilding Children’s Imaginations. Which came first for you?

Hi there, thank you so much for having me. Fiction came first. I’ve told stories all my life, whether as a sister, an au pair, a teacher, a mum, and then as a writer of children’s books. I got to write lots of stories for Rewilding as well. 

The manual is full of retellings of folktales from all around the world, along with lesson plans that go with each one. I often include an element of a myth or a legend in my children’s fiction, so Rewilding felt like a natural extension.

Tamsin Cooke

Why did you decide to branch out?

I was approached by a fabulous team who asked me to join their project. Pia Jones is an amazing art therapist and has written beautiful therapeutic fairy tales, and Sarah Pimenta is an extraordinary artist and illustrator. I was really excited to come on board because it sounded like such a worthwhile project. It’s all about connecting children to their imagination through folktales and nature, and that’s something I’m passionate about. I think all children need the time and space to be creative, and not worry about the outcome and just enjoy the process.

Rewilding Children’s Imaginations is aimed at teachers, parents or other adults who work with children and encourages them to use folktales and storytelling to help children get creative in nature. 

Working as part of a team contrasts with Tamsin's fictional writing

What, if any, were the differences between writing this text and writing for children themselves?

Each of the stories – retellings of folktales – were created with the hope that they’d be read aloud, either by a teacher or by the children themselves. As we were writing them, we thought about the rhythm, the tempo, and the sound. We also kept them short in case people wanted to memorise them instead of reading from a page. 

The book is separated into the four seasons – so we have folktales and activities for spring, summer, autumn, and winter. And I have to admit, as I was writing the winter tales, I kept thinking about children huddled in blankets, possibly drinking a hot chocolate sitting in a den somewhere, while their teacher told them the story.
Folktales also have a certain vibe. I normally write immediate, fast-paced adventure stories, so it was fun writing in a slower, more classic style.

What have been the highlights and the challenges of diversifying?

One of the highlights was being part of a team. As a writer, a large part of the creative process is spent on your own. You might have a crit group, an agent and an editor (who are all absolutely wonderful and a team as well), but the bulk of the book is created on your own. This was something different. It was a collaboration from the outset. We selected the folktales together (wanting them to be from all over the world so that as many cultures as possible could be represented and appreciated) as well as all the various activities.

We’d have frequent Zoom meetings together, to decide who was doing what, and we’d share our work constantly. It felt very special to be part of a team and a lot of the meetings were filled with laughter. Another highlight of the project was getting the chance to utilise my skills as an ex-teacher. It was fun creating lesson plans again and trying out the activities to make sure they worked.

There were a few challenges. On occasion we might disagree and would need to compromise. I’m used to being a bossy author, so I had to learn! But I’d say the biggest challenge was time management. We all had our main jobs while fitting this in. And the project was immense.

Tamsin writes middle grade fiction for children and this came first

What advice would you have for anyone interested in writing educational texts or in trying new things in general?

Go for it! It can be a bit scary to branch out or do something different, but you never know where it may take you. So if you’re passionate about something have a go. I think there’s a big demand for educational resources right now. 

What is your ultimate goal in terms of branching out? Do you have a big picture of where you would like this journey to take you?

I love visiting schools as an author, and some of the workshops I run are from the manual. When I’ve talked to some teachers, not only are they struggling to find the time to fit creativity into the very busy curriculum, a few are also a little nervous on how to teach creativity - whether that’s art, drama, poetry.

So I would love to run an inset day. Not only to offer guidance, but also to give teachers a chance to play and reconnect with their own imagination. I think, as adults, we sometimes forget how good it is to play and not worry about the finished product. It’s great for mental health to just let go. In fact I’d love to run adult workshops for anyone who wishes to reconnect with their creativity and play.

Thanks so much for your time!

An absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.

*Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo

*All other images: Tamsin Cooke


Tracy Curran is the Production Editor for Words & Pictures and enjoys writing picture books, young fiction and lower middle grade novels. Known as Little Cornish Writer, you can find her on Instagram, Twitter/X and Facebook. She also enjoys reviewing children's books on her blog, The Breadcrumb Forest.


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Contact them at

Tita Berredo is the Illustration Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Contact her at

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