Because every kid deserves a Kristy

Because every kid deserves a Kristy

by Dr Katie Sparks, Cloudaloud CEO and Co-Founder

I’ve loved books my whole life. Reading came easily as a child, and I couldn’t wait to read everything! Our house was filled with books. My mother was an English teacher. My literacy journey was a smooth one. I was lucky. 

But my family moved often. I attended six primary schools. My younger brother was, at many times, my only friend, and being an active, athletic kid he made friends in the neighbourhood more easily than I did. I was lonely. 

Until I met Kristy.  

Kristy Thomas: founder and President of the Baby-Sitters Club. Kristy was everything I wanted to be, and everything I looked for in a friend. She was full of ideas, kind, a natural leader. She was devoted to her friends, and they were equally as devoted to her. They argued from time to time, but they always made up, and in the end it brought them closer.  

I don’t remember any specific plots in The Baby-Sitters Club books. I do remember some of the characters. But what I remember most is the feeling that reading those books gave me. I also remember seeing characters, older than me but still children, work through challenges and rely on each other. And because I could be with them time and time again, story after story, I felt a part of it all, and far less lonely.

This is what stories can do, and it’s why the stories we read in childhood matter so much.  

It’s why all stories need to be as widely accessible as possible.  

It’s why I love working in stories. When people find out I work in audiobooks, their first reaction is usually, “Oh, I love audiobooks! I just listened to…” followed by a short list of their most recent audiobook purchases. Often, they tell me they found audiobooks after getting into podcasts. But many of them say they found audiobooks because they don’t like, or don’t feel confident, reading physical books. 

When these adult audio enthusiasts learn that I work in children’s audio, their response is almost always the same: they wish there had been more children’s audio around when they were kids. And it’s tragic that there wasn’t; not only did they miss out on so many stories as children – the escape, the adventure, the laughs – but also the sense of comfort that escape, adventure, and laughter can bring.  

What if I had struggled to read, because of dyslexia, or learning difficulties, or the disruption of a global pandemic? What if I had moved from house to house, with no books on the shelves? 

What if I’d never met Kristy? 

Without the companionship and continuity of those stories, my interior life during my primary years would have been very different. Less rich, and certainly lonelier. It’s a situation that children without access to books or confidence in reading face daily, and it’s a situation that audiobooks can alleviate.   

It’s why I wake up every day, so happy to be doing what I’m doing alongside other people –  writers, publishers, and producers – who feel the same way. 

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme is “loneliness,” and though it may be obvious, it’s worth pointing out the overwhelming loneliness so many children felt over the course of the pandemic. So many children, because of their individual home and family circumstances, feel it still.  

What can be done? Well, we can find them stories and series with characters who become friends. We can do everything in our power to make these stories available to them in school, in libraries, and at home. And we can make these stories as widely accessible as possible, as physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks.  

Because every kid deserves a Kristy. 


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