I love a good audio book. They make long car journeys much more interesting and are great for settling children down at bedtime. But have you ever listened to some of the current crop of children's stories and thought, "They don't make 'em like they used to"? Somebody at the BBC clearly has, as they've just released a range of vintage audio books for children.
With World Book Day coming up soon, treat yourself to some tales that the whole family will enjoy.
This is the first time most of these stories have been released on CD, but they're presented in authentic retro style with artwork and sleeve notes replicated from the original LPs. Even the CD itself is made to look like a vinyl disc. Children won't get the reference, but parents will love it.We listened to the Magic Roundabout stories, which are just as surreal as they ever were. Never having seen the programme, my son had trouble getting to grips with the characters. But he found the music oddly hypnotic, and ended up listening to it over and over: "I don't understand it, but I like it" was this six-year-old's verdict.
Then we moved on to the 1970's tales from Camberwick Green, which proved to be a harder sell: "It's just about people in a village – what's interesting about that?" grumped the boy who prefers all his fiction to come with added spaceships. But you can't beat a bit of Brian Cant, and soon we were engrossed in the world of Windy Miller and pals. Meanwhile, my ten-year-old gave two thumbs up to the Enid Blyton Secret Seven Mystery, read by former Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene. At 1 hour 40 minutes, this would be a good choice for a car journey.
I think these audiobooks are going to be a big hit with parents who like to buy stuff for themselves whilst pretending it's really for the kids. Children will have to work a bit harder because they won't already know the characters. But there's no harm in that. Plus it's a great opportunity to talk to your children about your own childhood, and the stories you used to enjoy.
Other titles in the Vintage Beeb range include: Bedtime Stories from Johnny Morris and Willo The Wisp narrated by Kenneth Williams. You can see the whole range in the BBC shop here, prices starting from £3.99.