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The Bear and the Piano

David Litchfield
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Age 5-7+ years

One day a young bear cub finds a piano in the forest. Gradually he learns to play, and the other bears love to hear him. One day some humans discover the piano playing bear and invite him to play in the city. Soon he is the toast of the town with his name in lights. But he misses the forest and his friends.

This is a stunning picturebook with an appealing story about success, fame and friendship. If your child enjoys the story, there are two more wonderful books in the series The Bear the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle and The Bear the Piano and Little Bear’s Concert to enjoy.

lovemybooksactivitiesorangecentreShare the story

Read aloud
Before beginning the story look at the cover illustration and wonder together about where this story might happen and how a bear might be playing a piano.

Read the story aloud pausing to talk about the decisions the bear might make, for example when he is invited to leave the forest and when he is sitting on the roof in the city lost in thought.

Join in
In several parts of the story the text is separated into short sections, for example when he learns to play the piano and when he performs in the concert. This is very supportive for young readers; you could encourage your child to join in with these or take over the reading here.

Talk about the story

  • The illustrations in this book are beautiful – share your favourite double page spreads and talk about them.

  • The bear has to make some tricky decisions in the story – talk about these, does your child agree with them? – How would they advise him – should he leave the forest? Should he stay in the city?

  • Talk about what this story is about and any messages the writer was trying to convey.


    Listen to the story read aloud

Things to make and do

Make a poster
Make a poster announcing a concert with the famous bear and the piano – either in the big city or for the animals in the forest. You could look at the illustrations for ideas use A4 or A3 paper, felt tip pens or crayons.

Be storytellers
Collect together several soft toys, choosing one to be the bear in the story. Sit the toys in a circle as if ‘listening’ to the bear. Imagine the animals in the forest are asking the bear questions and he is telling his story. You could be the voice of the bear and your child could ask questions about what it was like in the city and why he decided to come back to the forest.

Write a diary
Imagining they are the bear your child could write his diary for one day in the story – when he leaves home, misses his friends or realises they did remember him after all.

Perform the story with music
When your child becomes familiar with the story you could try a read aloud with a musical accompaniment. You could add sound to sections of the story using toy instruments such as a glockenspiel or jingle bells, a piano if you are lucky enough to have one, or instrumental musical clips from the internet. You could also try making your own harmonica or pan pipes. See here for some ideas.

Decide who is reading which bit and where the music will be added, rehearse and perform – if you can find someone to be your audience even better!

Find out more

Read the other two stories in the trilogy
The Bear the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle and The Bear the Piano and Little Bear’s Concert See David Litchfield read the story aloud here

Lights on Cotton Rock

The Boy and the Giant

Find out more about David Litchfield David Litchfield Illustration

David Litchfield has also illustrated many books for other writers including:

Space Tortoise with Ross Montgomery see our activity page

The Marvellous Moon Map with Teresa Heapy see our activity page 

Rain Before Rainbows with Smrithi Halls

Teachers looking for a detailed teaching sequence based on the Bear and the Piano for ages 7-9 , see here Creative Literacy (