I often get one of two responses when I talk to parents about reading with their children. On one end of the spectrum, I hear “I love reading with my kids, we read every day, it’s so fun!”. On the other end, I hear parents say “I want to read with my children but it’s boring to me, and I’m not a reader myself”. One of my biggest goals with this blog and with Addison Reads as a whole is to show parents how important reading is in raising good, wholesome children and how to make reading fun for kids & families. Reading time should be fun and exciting – in this post we are going to dive deep into one way to make reading super exhilarating, through the clever use of sound.
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Listen & Learn
Don’t have time to read the full post? I get it, I’m a busy parent, too! You can now listen and learn by clicking the “PLAY” button below.
Why Make Reading FUN for Kids & The Whole Family?
To frame this conversation a bit, I want to discuss why you should spend the time to make reading fun in the first place. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you will know that I believe reading with your children is so much more about connection & teaching life lessons than it is about literacy. Of course, literacy is important (reading is such a vital skill for all aspects of life) but if you focus on that when you sit down to read with your children, I can almost 100% guarantee it’s not going to be fun.
What kid wants to sit down and read with their parent and be grilled about the words on the page? No child I know, that’s for sure.
Rather, I encourage you to emphasize these focal points when you read with your kids:
Focus on connection.
Laugh together. Get to know what makes your child laugh. Cry together. Swap stories that are relevant to what you’ve read. Ask your child about their day and how it might apply to the book. Connect physically through snuggling and tickle fights. Connect emotionally by opening your heart up to each other and getting vulnerable as it relates to what you’ve read.
Focus on personal growth.
What does the story teach about being a better person? Without shoving a lesson down your child’s throat, subtly pull out the important values from the book. Using the same premise as connection, ask your child how this value might apply to their own life. Believe it or not, you may find your kids start opening up to you about their experiences and viewpoints about the world when they are approached in a less straightforward way through storytelling.
Don’t worry about checking a box.
Don’t read with your children just to check a box on your to-do list. Make it something intentional and do what you can to make it fun & engaging for the whole family (choose books everyone is interested in, make the whole reading experience more entertaining through the use of sound – as discussed here – or other elements like making the reading space itself more creative and whimsical).
Most importantly – make it fun in a way that makes sense for your family. Find books that make everyone laugh!
When your make reading fun for everyone, parents too, it’s more likely the whole family will be engaged and present in the moment. You’ll put away your cell phone, your kids will pay attention to what’s going on and you will reap all the benefits of reading with your kids because everyone wants to be there.
Using Sound to Make Reading Fun
As I’ve just alluded to, there are dozens of ways you can make reading fun for the whole family. In this post we’re going to talk specifically about why and how to use sound to heighten the reading experience.
The use of sound is a particularly interesting way to make reading fun because sound:
- Opens up another avenue for learning
- Limits distractions and keeps everyone engaged
- Sets the stage and helps create an immersive experience
Auditory and Verbal Learning
There are seven distinct learning styles: visual, aural, verbal physical, logical, social, and solitary. This article and website is a great resource if you’re looking to identify which learning style (or combination) you or or your children are. Additionally, Melissa D, the activities coordinator for The Intentional Book Club and blogger at Rolling Prairie Readers created a whole video discussing learning styles & kids.
Auditory, or aural, as well as Verbal learners will absorb information best when it is heard. Listening to recordings or someone speaking, especially through repetition, is the best way for these individuals to learn.
That said, if you recognize your children (or child) to be an auditory or verbal learner, consider using sound in the reading experience to help drive the lessons home even further.
That’s not to say non-auditory / verbal learners cannot benefit from sound, but those types of learners may get even more out of a reading session that incorporates sound.
Sound Limits Distractions & Improves Engagement
In order to truly make reading fun, everyone has to be actively involved! Turning on a loud soundscape (like music or sound effects) to accompany a book will limit auditory distractions like the laundry machine beeping or your cell phone buzzing.
In doing so, you are assuring that the auditory distractions that like to creep into our reading sessions and pull our attention away from what really matters (our children and family time) are lessened or completely thwarted.
If you decide an engaged reading session is important to you, you will do everything in your power to give your family members the highest chance of successfully staying engaged despite what may be going on around them.
Sets the Stage & Creates an Immersive Experience
Let’s take the same example of turning on a loud soundscape to accompany a book. Instead of simply reading a book and it existing on its own on the pages, a soundscape (as we will discuss further with one of my favorite apps, below) will allow the book to take on a life of its own and for your family to really fall into the story.
The story will be brought to the physical space through the use of sound and the participants will be a part of the story in the auditory space – talk about making reading fun and not boring, who doesn’t want to feel like they are truly a part of the story being read?
In the following examples of ways to incorporate sound, I will give you some techniques to use a combination of sound and other elements to build yourself into the story.
Ways to Incorporate Sound Into a Reading Session
I have three specific examples you can try tonight to incorporate sound to make reading fun for the whole family:
- Sound effects
- Using different voices
- Audio books
Sound effects are complementary sounds that in some way pertain to the story being read (ie: in the story, the baby hits a pot with her hand…so the sound effect would be the sound of the hand hitting the pot).
You can either make your own sound effects or use an app to generate them for you.
If it were the example above, you would grab a pot and when you arrive at that part of the story, your child would go bang on the pot!
In this way, the story become a part of the physical space. You and your children can work as a team to decide how to create sound effects that apply to the particular story. How might you make the sound of rain falling? What does it sound like when a car travels over a bumpy road?
Collaborate with your little ones and make up a whole soundscape for the book on your own. Liz’s Early Learning has several different DIY crafts you can create to make your own sound effects. Check out this article on creating night noises and this one for creating a sound box!
Another way to incorporate sound effects & soundscapes into your reading sessions is to use the app, Novel Effect.
Novel Effect is an app that uses voices recognition technology to track where you are in a chosen book title, and plays a corresponding soundscape that complements the story. The app is totally free to download, and they have hundreds of books to choose from their database.
What’s so great about the app is that it completely works with families. If your child is learning how to read and wants to use the app as they read, it follows their pace. If you’re reading a story and you have to stop for whatever reason, the app stops, too.
Once you connect the app to a loud bluetooth speaker, hear the sound effects, music and voice overs playing as you read, you will be hooked. The immersive experience created using Novel Effect can also be heightened by adding in your own elements such as: costumes, aromas and role playing!
Using Different Voices
In my personal opinion, nothing is more boring than listening to someone read a book with multiple characters that all have the same voice, yuck!
Instead, try to give each character a unique voice – or let your child take on one of the roles! This will challenge and stretch you as the reader to be whimsical and will surely make reading time fun.
My favorite voices are:
- Scary voice
- A tiny / baby voice
- An alien (channel your inner Stitch for this one!)
- A whispery, sweet voice
What’s fun is to give characters unexpected voice. Give a small character a deep, scary voice and a large character the sweet, whispery voice. It’ll keep your children on their toes and anticipating what voice you’ll choose next!
For the March 2018 video lesson in The Intentional Book Club I did a whole training on 9 different voices to use during your next reading session!
I am personally not an auditory or verbal learner, so audio books have never been my favorite thing in the world, however, many families rave about audio books for children so I couldn’t possibly leave those out!
When you’re on a long car ride, instead of giving your child your cell phone to watch a TV show, consider turning on an audio book. Often times (especially for kids books) they will be read using a variety of voices with added whimsy and fun. Before you know it, you will have listened to an entire book as a family!
Melissa D had a great suggestion for the book club families this month, to have their older children record their favorite book as an audio book for their siblings. Then, the book is read by someone your younger kids know and everyone can enjoy it!
If you are ready to get started reading audio books, I recommend Audible through Amazon. You can start your free 30 trial by clicking here
Go Forward and Use Sound to Make Reading FUN!
You are equipped with all of the tools necessary to make reading fun starting tonight. Go grab the Novel Effect app for free and try it out with one of the books at home (they have so many popular books on the app, they’re bound to have one you have on your intentional bookshelf). OR take the DIY approach and make your own sound effects or give the characters in the books you read unique voices.
Whatever you do, remember, reading time should be FUN and exciting for everyone in the family. Don’t leave anyone out, and give every member the opportunity to shine and take the lead. You got this!
Ready to Explore the Topic of Sound More As a Family?
Every month both here on Addison Reads and within The Intentional Book Club we have a very distinct theme. The objective of establishing a singular theme per month is it gives you the chance to explore and dive deep into the topic with your family throughout the entire month.
This month’s theme is S O U N D. If you are interested in delving deeper into this topic with your family, we would love to have you join us in The Intentional Book Club. In the club, we focus on inviting our children into the discovery and exploration of these larger topics through the strategic use of children’s books and activities. Every month members receive a theme bundle that includes:
- 5+ purposefully chosen book recommendations that relate to the topic
- 3 activity ideas centered around the theme
- 1 guest interview with an author, illustrator or expert related to the monthly topic
- A short video lesson for your entire family
- 2 digital badges to earn as a family for mastering the skill / topic of the month
Club members also have access to curated book recommendations based on their defined focuses for their intentional bookshelves, exclusive printables and resources, and are welcome to participate in our private community for purposeful parents.
The best part? Joining the club is just $47 for lifetime access. Start engaging with your kids in meaningful ways and spending time discovering things that matter together.
March’s Featured Club Guest – Melissa Hammersley
Listen to a snippet of our interview (club members get the full interview in video form!)
Our guest of honor for March 2018 is Melissa Hammersely. A SCAD educated graphic designer and professional patent illustrator, Melissa is the co-founder and CDO of Novel Effect. She loves baking, is obsessive about her markers, and can be seen debating with her daughter to eat something other than blueberries.
Join the Intentional Book Club for full access to the insightful interview with Melissa (where we discuss the value of an immersive reading experience and the place of tech in the reading session.