On Wednesday, Penguin Random House Audio and Ministry of Stories launched their first ever audio collection of 35 short stories, which were written and recorded by children aged between 8 and 12.
The children attended out-of-school writing clubs at the Ministry of Stories’ creative hub in Hoxton to write stories with the listener in mind. Each child then recorded their story, with sound effects and music added by professional editors. Penguin Random House Audio has now published the young people’s stories as a real audiobook CD, entitled The World was an Avocado, which was launched this week with an event at The Red Gallery in Shoreditch.
The Ministry of Stories’ has released the first 10 stories on its podcast, available on Apple iTunes. An additional story will be released every Monday morning to coincide with the first school run of the week. Some podcast episodes are introduced by authors, and Ministry of Stories patrons, including Charlie Higson, Nick Hornby, Nikesh Shukla and Sophie Kinsella.
We've loved seeing our young writers take their stories from the first spark of an idea all the way to being written and professionally recorded as an audio story. The support and advice Penguin Random House UK has offered has been invaluable. It's shown our writers that their ideas are powerful and can take them to exciting places. We can't wait to launch the stories as a podcast and share them with the world.”
-Lucy Macnab, Director and Co-Founder of Ministry of Stories
The collection of audio short stories takes the listener on 35 unique adventures: through lands of fire and dragons, where they’ll meet greedy unicorns and pig presidents, and help hunt for missing emojis. The collection includes a journey through Candyland, where candy canes “walk tall like gentleman”, a hair-raising trip with Makayla who uses a time machine to get an 'A' on her history project, and the lament of a rainbow-sprinkled doughnut who is not happy about being dropped on the floor.
The World was an Avocado has enabled a creative collaboration between children, freelance editors, and Penguin Random House Audio; aiming to captivate the imagination of the children and help them to realise their creative potential. As part of this collaboration, Penguin Random House colleagues visited the Ministry of Stories’ writing clubs to talk about their jobs in audiobook production; children recorded their stories in the audiobook studio at the publisher’s 80 Strand office; and a designer collaborated with the young writers to create for the CD a full colour 16-page booklet with pull-out poster incorporating the children’s drawings. 200 copies of the audio CD have been printed thanks to the generous support of Optimal Media.
I found it really cool when I recorded my story because I got to wear the headphones and speak into a microphone. I thought the sound effects would make the story feel more alive and real – and it did come to life.”
-Uresa, age 11, author of Reena and Deena
The project is part of a partnership between Penguin Random House UK and Ministry of Stories, which is now in its third and final year. Since 2016, the publisher has been supporting the charity’s efforts to reach new communities through both funding and expertise, and by inspiring and mobilising its colleagues to fundraise and give their time as volunteers. In July 2017, together they published 17 unique picture books written by children and brought to life by volunteer illustrators.
The children involved in this audio-led initiative have proven without doubt that storytelling and listening are the perfect partnership to spark imaginations and creativity. Watching them write, and listening to their stories, has been truly inspirational.”
- Hannah Telfer, Managing Director of Penguin Random House Audio
In addition, last Friday 18 May over 500 Penguin Random House colleagues wearing orange t-shirts took to the streets of London for the afternoon in the publisher’s annual charity fundraising tradition #PRHTheWalk. Colleagues collectively walked 3,570 miles in a route along the Thames ending in Putney; raising over £8,000 for Ministry of Stories whilst doing so. Check out some pictures from The Walk below:
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