Story tapes were a huge part of my childhood. I loved them – from the old cassette of Swallows and Amazons that was passed down through my cousins and eventually died through over-listening, to Alan Bennet reading Winnie the Pooh, and my best friend’s tape of My Naughty Little Sister that we always listened to in the car after swimming.
We made our own tapes too. Mine weren’t particularly sophisticated, but as a teenager my husband recorded Roald Dahl’s Matilda, complete with sound effects in the background. Miraculously it has survived and it is a joy to listen to – a mini time machine in audio.
Today, story tapes have morphed into audiobooks, which sound rather more sophisticated. They are brilliant company, especially if you home alone and want to have another voice in the house, or if you have trouble falling asleep.
Now, in this strange new reality of ours, we are going to need stories more than ever – for escapism, for comfort, for relaxation, laughter and company. You could try something that you wouldn’t normally have the time or energy to read, like War and Peace, or something you know by heart, that always makes you smile. Pride and Prejudice always does that for me.
For children now at home, and their parents trying to juggle conference calls with home schooling, audiobooks may be a lifeline too. They’re not a substitute for reading aloud, but they are an amazing resource to have at the touch of a button, and might just help us all stay sane over the next few months.
Luckily, there’s lots of choice out there. Audible has made their children’s titles available freely whilst the schools are closed. BBC Sounds and Spotify have lots too, and World Book Day also has some fabulous audiobooks for kids, as well as lots of fun activities and resources.
We thought we’d leave you with a few of our favourites. Sleepy is a channel of classic works read in a slow and soothing voice, perfect for falling asleep to. Ep 42 is Sense and Sensibility.
And for kids, this is Awesomely Austen’s take on Pride & Prejudice!
Sophie Reynolds, Collections and Interpretation Manager