Make Audio Books (Books on Tape) For Your Kids

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Furniture and a television

Do your kids ever get tired of the TV?  Mine rarely do, but I get tired of them watching.  Really they just want to hear/see a story.  Since TV watching can have a negative effect if overdone, we limit screen time.  Sometimes I just can’t take the time to read to them though.  Instead I make my own audio books.  I record myself reading books on to cassette tapes or my phone.  If you have a microphone for your computer you could use that as well.  Since I’m a music teacher I use a triangle for the page turn signal.  You could easily tap a fork on the side of a glass instead. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but the kids figure out how to turn just one page and how to listen for the sound.  The first few times you may need to sit with your child or stay within eye sight of the book while they listen to help make sure they’re on the right page.

I began doing this about 8 years ago when I was struggling to get the music grades posted for the term right after a program.  I recorded myself reading the Star Spangled Banner book I had in my lesson plans with the page turn signals and let a responsible student hold the book for the class.  It was a huge time saver for me and my classes (5 of each grade at the time) still got educational material. Really it’s sort of like making a clone of yourself :-)

When I taught only Kindergarten music I had 16 classes to read the same story to.  Often I would have one class help me make the recording by being the page turn signals.  Then I could use the recording for the classes I knew could handle me not being directly in front of them. It sure saved my voice many a time when it was a long book!  I haven’t let Little Turkey help me record a book yet, but I know he’d love to play the triangle to make the page turn signal and would take pride when he heard it every time.

I’m not saying that this should replace the need for you to ever read to your children again, but it can be very helpful at times. It would also be a special story time if you had the kids’ grandparents record some books too!

If you’re making these for children that can’t read yet, I’d recommend:

  • Choosing 2-4 books that have very distinct titles and cover photos so that the kids know which book is which.
  • Choose 2-4 books that will take no more than 10 – 15 mins to read.
  • Be sure to pause about 3 seconds after giving your page turn signal to give them time to catch up. This also gives them time to process what they’ve just heard.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or point out things just as you would if you were reading to your child in person.
  • Label the tape, cd, or computer file so you’ll be able to find it again.
  • Don’t give up, most 3 yr olds can handle this task with short books!

If you’re making these for kids that can read (ages 5-8) you could probably record up to 30 mins at a time.  Even if you find that your children aren’t ready to handle the pages themselves, you may be able to sit with them while you fold laundry or wash dishes and turn the pages when you hear the signal.

It’s a win – win for everybody, as long as it’s not overdone.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about any late fees from the library :-) Make reading an audio book a special occasion that your kids will love as much as they love watching tv!


  1. two Christmases ago my husband ordered me a refurbished Kindle, and one feature i really like on those is that it will read the books out loud. I’ve let my daughter listen to one occasionally while I was doing the dishes or trying to finish up a computer task. I had forgotten about that since I mostly read on my phone app now, but that’s a terrific thing to pull back out for summer!

  2. I did this with my son when he was small. From the time he was old enough to walk we had a story time two to three times a day. He loved (& still does) stories. They started very short with him sitting through only a page or two & me talking about it rather than reading.

    He loved being read to so much I couldn’t possibly keep up so I started getting audio books from the library. We let him lay in bed at night & listen to them as he followed along. Then I made audio books of his favorites that we read over & over.

    I recorded myself reading TO him which I love. Now I have these recordings of his little boy comments & excitement over his favorite stories. I had a little china bell that he rang & we recorded instructions at the beginning of each book – just like the ones from the library.

    I plan to do this when I have grandchildren too. It’s a really fun way to keep them close when you can’t be there every day.

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