"Story cassettes for children have taken off in the past year," says Liz Roberts, buyer for Lowen's Toy Store, Bethesda. Of the nearly two dozen types for sale, she lists these series as two of the most popular:

Caedmon--Wide variety of fairy tales and favorites narrated by professionals like Claire Bloom and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ($8.99; tel. for catalogue, 800-223-0420).

The Mind's Eye--Full dramatizations of children's classics, with sound effects and music ($4.95; tel. 800-227-2020).

"Both are excellent," says Roberts, "but it's easier for younger children to follow narrated stories than the voice and character changes in the dramatized stories."

Also available: Radio Reruns, such as "The Lone Ranger" and "The Green Hornet" ($4.98; tel. for catalogue, "Adventures in Cassettes," 800-328-4818); Superscope series of fairy tales in French, German and Spanish, like "El Parito Feo" ($3.78, with book); and a variety of book/tape/activity center series ($3.98 to $11.99).

Narrated, 30-day rental story tapes may be ordered by telephone from:

Recorded Books, Clinton, Md. (301) 868-7856; 800-638-1304 outside Maryland.

Tape-Worm Inc., Rockville, Md. (301) 258-7618.

Books on Tape, Newport Beach, Calif. 800-854-6758.