Robert Hartley, who lives on Horndale Road in Filey, said: “I started off being asked to read stories to children in the library.
“When lockdown started, someone said to me, ‘What about putting them on video and putting them on the Facebook page for the library?”
“I got into it and they became popular.”
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“I thought I would also put them on Youtube and they’ve become even more popular on that platform
“I’ve done 28 now.”
Robert, a Freemason, started storytime when he became aware quite a few of the brethren were stuck at home. “It’s nice to be able to give them something to do,” he said.
“They’re particularly popular with families who are housebound.
“If it gives parents and grandparents 10 minutes peace and quiet then it’s worth it.
“Quite a few people say that their children look forward to having 10 minutes with me.”
Most stories are from books out of the library, with the most popular one so far being Judith Kerr’s ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’.
Robert, 79, also tells tales he has written himself including Smorgiborgy the Baby Dragon, where he teaches listeners to say “Smorgiborgy” correctly and Robert’s own version of the legend of the Filey dragon.
Robert’s audience is growing across the globe with listeners in Turkey, Germany, the USA and (he thinks) Australia.
Robert, who tries to wear a different hat each time he tells a story, said: “It's all part of the idea of the library service - to get children to relate to books as opposed to the screen. It’s all part of the idea of getting children to enjoy reading.”
Robert is also very aware of the positive impact reading can have on a child’s mental health. He said. “The first week in February is National Children’s Mental Health week, so the story I’ve just done has a brief introduction and an end summary using the theme of “Showing your Feelings” which I think is an appropriate use of words for the under 7s. “
Will Robert continue after lockdown? He said: “This all started in the library and when lockdown ends, we will be back there.”
You can find Robert on YouTube by searching Storytime with Robert at Filey.
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