Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DIY Recorded Stories

"The more you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." 
        -Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"
There is something so special and so wonderful about books, especially children's books.

We have gathered a great collection of children's literature from bargain bins and garage sales to every major book seller on the planet, and best of all from Grandparents who love and support our cause for reading.

The boys' bookshelves have been upgraded three times since the birth of our first-born.  I had planned to snap a pic of their monster bookcase, but was halted at the threshold of their bedroom door by a very big sign which said,  
Okay, that's only partially true.  I couldn't get the door open because there was (I'm just guessing here) a pile of dirty laundry, a plethora of swords and helmets, basketball shoes, wrestling gear, and yes, books barricading the door.  So, sorry to disappoint, but there will be no personal photos of our children's library today.

However, here are some fine substitutions:
An apt portrayal of my imaginary nursery/children's reading room. Minus the horrific ottoman. I'm envisioning one covered in yellow toile with a pleated skirt, please.
A reading loft.  Perfect with a pair of cozy chairs, fluffy pillows and many, many blankets. This would be a pretty simple add-on to our trailer house, don't you think? One must dream big on the farm!
In a perfect world this would be me, rockin' a killer dress and heels with amazing hair, calmly climbing the ladder to grab that perfect book for the perfect lesson I'm going to teach to my perfect little students, who you can't see here, but go ahead and imagine that they are clean with neatly combed hair and bow ties. May I also add sitting up straight and paying attention.  

Don't gag.  If you lived on the dusty plains with 5 gritty (yet wonderful) boys, and hadn't washed your hair since forever ago, your dreams just might resemble mine.

As much as I love books and love to read, I don't have as much time to read to my little ones, especially Henry, as I would like to.  And, when I'm busy teaching the older ones, there are times, I'm know, when Henry isn't in the mood to entertain himself.
So, I decided to let him choose his favorite stories, and told him that I would create an audio accompaniment for each story just for him.
Yay! He Likes It!!!
I would like to share with you how I made my recordings. If you don't have a Mac computer at home, I am sure that your operating system provides some options that would be compatible with the ones I used on my computer.  Here's how I did it:

Before you begin, there are just a few things worth considering:

Don't forget to signal the page turns: I like to use bells, piano notes, whistles, a honking horn, the possibilities are endless!
Add "life" to the story: Sometimes playing classical, jazz or bluegrass music in the background can add life to the story.  Just be sure to use instrumental only.
Don't be afraid to speak in different voices! My kids love it when I speak with a British accent, Southern draw or high-pitched tenor.  It makes the characters come alive!
Be sure to begin with the title of the book, author and illustrator.  I also like to add something personal like points of interest in the book, notes on the author, when you first heard the story, etc.

1.  Use "Quicktime" as your recording software.  You can download it for your Mac from the App store if you don't already have it. Or, if you are using windows, you can download it here.

2.  Once in the program, simply go to File and click on "New Audio Recording."

3.  When you are ready to begin recording, click on the play button.  When you are finished recording, click on the stop button.

4.  At this point, you may want to save your audio recording to your music files.  For me, this is i-tunesGo to "Share" and click on "i-tunes."  When you open your i-tunes files, you will see your story listed as "Audio Recording #1." Just highlight it and re-name it the story you have just recorded.

5.  Now, you have begun your very own library of audio recordings that can be easily accessed, synced with your i-pod, or even burned to a CD for sharing.  

Audio Recordings Make Great Gifts!

I recently decided to begin a collection of audio recordings for my sister's children.  Since they live in Switzerland, and we don't see them very often, the stories provide a great way for us to stay connected through a medium which interests both of us - books!
To make the CD's into gifts, there are endless creative options that can make it special.  If you are crafty or into scrapbooking, just think of your CD as a mini-scrapbook.  I don't scrapbook, but I have a thing for paper, and often find really cute pages in the clearance isle at Hobby Lobby. 
Just cut the paper to fit the lid case.  Then, decorate as you please!
I found a photo of my niece Elisabeth in my files and thought it added a perfect touch!
The cd labels are from Avery. has many templates that you can download and personalize. I actually just took a page of my favorite scrapbook paper and photocopied it onto the label with my printer! Then, to make it personal, I signed it with my handwriting, instead of typing.

Up next for Henry: The entire "If You Give a..." 
series by Laura Numeroff.  His top 3?
1.  If You Give a Pig a Pancake
2.  If you Give a Mouse a Cookie
3.  If you Give a Moose a Muffin


  1. I am soo going to do this for my soon to be niece/nephew! What a fun baby shower present!! You're so amazing Sue! You're boys will cherish these recordings forever!

    1. Several years ago, I asked the boys' grandparents to record stories for the boys. They were recorded on tapes! And, the tapes are nearly worn out, so I was inspired to update the stories. It really is a great way to record not just a story but a memory!