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​Suffolk Libraries launches new digital story-sharing service

Stomp, Stomp, Stomp! Go the Elephants' feet! Listen... can you hear the sound of the beat?

The Elephant's Feet copyright of Caroline M England

Suffolk Libraries has teamed up with Featherbed Tales to provide a new way for people to share stories with children or loved ones.

Suffolk Libraries is the first library service to work with Featherbed Tales who make it possible to read, record and share one of their special children’s stories using your own voice. The service is ideal for those who are not able to meet up with other family members and can help to boost children’s reading and listening skills.

Anyone with a Suffolk Libraries account can log into the Featherbed Tales website, read and record one of the six short stories and then share a link by email. It also works both ways and your child can also read the story to provide a great present for a grandparent who hasn’t seen them during lockdown.

All you need to get started is your library card number and you can find out more and access the service via our Featherbed Tales page. There are clear instructions on how to get started along with a YouTube tutorial.

The six stories include the adventures of Eenor the mouse and Little Ellie the elephant, with other stories featuring hungry crocodiles, little bunnies and Manny the moth. There are also three short rhymes which are only three pages long to provide an easy way to get started. All the stories and rhymes have been written by the creator of Featherbed Tales, Caroline England who set up the service in 2020 to help children connect with absent loved ones and to share the joy of storytelling. The Featherbed Tales stories also come with beautiful illustrations by Tori Stowe.

You can read, record and share all the stories for free and they can be enjoyed over and over again. You can also share the storytelling with others and be as creative as you like, adding sounds and different voices. It’s easy to record the story page by page so you don’t have to start again if you make a mistake.

The stories have some themes which are important for young children to learn about. They help to teach children about friendship, sadness, and the beauty of the natural world, featuring many fascinating creatures from around the world. The stories are written to engage children and adults, with many opportunities to count, make noises and join in with the actions such as stomping elephants or jumping jerboas.

Paul Howarth, Suffolk Libraries, Head of Content and Resource Development, said:

“It’s still going to be a while before everyone can meet up to share stories and we’re delighted to be offering this new service which we hope will bring families together. Sharing story times with children is very powerful and an important part of building their literacy skills. It’s widely acknowledged that the pandemic has had a negative effect on children’s learning and mental health and we hope this service can help. Families might be separated for all kinds of reasons so it’s something we hope people will use and cherish in the future too.”

Caroline England, creator of Featherbed Tales, added:

“I’m really excited to be able to share our new service with library users across Suffolk. The voices of our loved ones have a magical effect, giving us reassurance and comfort. Our stories enable you to share the joy of listening to personal story times whether you’re a grandparent halfway round the world, a parent working away or deployed in the armed forces. So, whatever the reason you can’t be there, Featherbed Tales can help ensure your little ones can still feel the warmth of your love at story time.”