Celebrate Share A Story Month With Storybook Wings

Father reading book to infant on his lap

You have the ability to unlock a whole new world by sharing a story. And to help celebrate Share A Story month, we thought we’d revisit this wonderful feature highlighting the important work of Storybook Wings. Linda Barrett sheds light on this wonderful RAF Association initiative that brings real comfort to children.

Storybook Wings Provides Real Comfort

I served in the WRAF in the Seventies and have been a member of the Royal Air Forces Association, on and off, ever since. So it seemed natural to me to help out where I could.  

As well as being a befriender to elderly veterans and helping to fundraise for the charity, I particularly love being a Storybook Wings editor. The Storybook Wings initiative enables RAF personnel, about to go off on deployment, to record themselves reading stories that their children can listen to in their absence.  

Being able to hear a parent’s voice at bedtime provides great comfort to children of all ages. So, I feel very privileged to be involved in this incredibly worthwhile work.  

The RAF Association provides facilities at the “home” base of the parent to allow them to record a story. The recording is then sent to a co-ordinator, who in turn sends it out, via e-mail, to the editors. It’s our job, as editors, to take out all the unwanted sounds, such as background noises, coughs, pauses and so on. Then, add music and sound effects to help bring the story to life.  

Short Message To Their Child

First, the RAF Association provides me and the other editors with a little background information on the particular child. Such as whether they are a boy or girl, how old they are, and so on. This helps us to tailor the recording to them.  

For example, we would put fewer sound effects in a story for a toddler than we would for an older child. We also put music at the beginning and end of each story, and more subtle background music throughout.  

I think all the editors have their own ways of going about it. Personally, I start with the sound effects, taking out any random noises as I go. I usually put the music in last.  

Most parents record a short message to their child before and after the story. I find these very moving, and l can often shed a few tears.

Put A Smile On The Face Of A Child 

When we’re happy with the result, we return the edited recording to the co-ordinator for them to distribute it to the family in a special presentation wallet. Some stories are really popular and come up regularly. Our most-read story is “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson.  

I thoroughly enjoy being a Storybook Wings editor. The flexibility of this voluntary role really suits me. I am asked to do one story per week, sometimes more, so I can dip in and out of the work when it’s convenient for me.  

It’s an incredibly worthwhile initiative. With every edited story I send back to the co-ordinator goes my hope that it will put a smile on the face of a child who is desperately missing their mum or dad.  

A great many stories have been recorded for children since the project was launched in 2008. If playing my part means that I have helped in some small way, and if some of those children cope a little easier with their parents’ absence, then that’s all that really matters to me.  

Read about some childhood classics here.

Linda Barrett, along with many “People’s Friend” writers, have also been involved in the newly-released book “21 Stories for Ukraine: A mix of short stories in aid of the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Find out more about the book here.

Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.