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The Iron Man: A children’s story in five nights

the iron manTed Hughes
Faber and Faber (other editions available)

The Iron Man was written nearly 50 years ago by the poet Ted Hughes, originally to entertain his own children. Told in five chapters representing five nights it is ideal for bedtime story reading over a week.

The book tells what happens when a mysterious iron giant arrives in a farming community. Initially treated as a threat, The Iron Man later becomes a hero saving the world from a dangerous space monster. It is mainly told from the point of view of Hogarth, a young boy who forms a friendship with the Iron Man. Exciting, poetic and dramatic this book is great for read aloud to children. There is lots to think and talk about too with the dilemma of what to do about the Iron Man for example.

Watch a narrated animation of the opening of the story here.

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Talk about the story

If you pause after each chapter you could talk about:

Ch1: What might happen next.

Ch 2: What the farmers could do about the Iron Man and how Hogarth felt.

Ch 3: How the Iron Man felt about being in the scrapyard.

Ch 4: What the Iron Man’s idea to save the world from the space-bat-angel-dragon might be

After finishing the story you could talk about:

Favourite parts of the story and anything your child wonders about.

What everyone thinks about the Iron Man at the beginning of the story and at the end – and why this changes.


 Things to make and do

Re read parts of the story

Go back to the opening and have fun reading it together: ‘Where has he come?’ from ‘Nobody knows’ etc

Make an iron man

Make an iron man from junk – cardboard packets cover in foil.

Make a story scene

Create a scene from the story using small figures, collage pictures and your junk model Iron Man. Watch this animation for inspiration:

Write a menu

What would an Iron Man eat? Write a menu for him

Make a picture

Draw or paint a picture of the final challenge between the space-bat-angel-dragon and the Iron Man

Find out more

Read more books by Ted Hughes. Titles for children include:

The Iron Woman

Nessie the Mannerless Monster

Meet my Folks

How the Whale Became and Other stories

Although most of his books are out of print secondhand copies and Kindle versions are available.


Watch a film

Watch the Iron Giant, a film animation based on the Iron Man. See trailer.

Talk about the two versions and which your child prefers

Listen to sounds from Space in this YouTube video ‘The Music of the Spheres’

Buy The Iron Man