TWIN HACKS – Creating Your Own Audiobooks For Kids

Audiobooks, fun for kids, educational, parenting

I know that I say this a lot, but parenting twins is tough.  Actually parenting in general is tough.  It’s essential to get some tricks in your toolbox.  So, today I give you a TWIN HACKS: creating your own audiobooks.

Feel free to use the HACK with any kids not just twins 😉 !

We’ve always tried to limit the amount of screen time our twins are allowed; especially when they were little.  But, every parent needs some down time, even if it’s just so you can get dinner cooked.

With twins, getting a free moment to get anything done is challenging.  Someone always needs you for something.  Enter the audiobook.

WHY MAKE YOUR OWN?

When my twins got old enough to try out audiobooks, I got excited.  I’m an avid reader, and I can remember devouring audiobooks when I was young.  Now, they looked a little bit different back then – records instead of CDs – but, they served the exact same purpose.

I eagerly went onto amazon and ordered a few books.  The ones that I ordered had the storybook and the CD.   Having the actual book is important for the little ones, as they prefer to look at the pictures while they listen.  When they get older the mp3 version (without the book) that you can download will work too.

I was so ready to buy myself some “free-time” while my twins blissfully listened to books.  Brain building for them and quiet for me – seemed like a win-win.

Audiobooks are win-win - Educational for your kids & Quiet-time for you! Here's how to create your own. Click To Tweet

Plus, each twin could listen to his own story.  No fighting over which story to read first!

My excitement quickly petered out.

The audiobooks I purchased were really well done.  Most of them were from Disney movies, and they had the actors’ real voices and sound effects.

But they didn’t meet my needs!

WHAT WENT WRONG?

The first problem was the pace of the books.  My kids just couldn’t keep up.  They’d end up getting behind in the story because they’d still be looking at the picture when they were told to turn the page.  By the time they’d turn the page, the story would’ve already moved on.  The narrator would announce the end of the book, and they’d only be half way through the book.

Tears would ensue.

I would have to try and find where they were in the story and get them back on track – over and over again.

Enter the second problem.  The stories just weren’t long enough.  The stories would be about 6-10 minutes.  But, by the time I would get them both set up with their individual stories and dealt with resetting the story when they got behind, they’d be done and need a new one set up.

The audiobooks didn’t end up buying me anytime at all.  I spent the entire time getting them set up and getting super FRUSTRATED.

If I was spending all my time with them while they listened to the audiobooks, then I might as well just read to them – it would save a lot of frustration and tears.

I was just about ready to give up on the whole adventure, when I had a brainstorm.  What was stopping me from making my own audiobooks?

Audiobooks, fun for kids, educational, parenting

CREATING YOUR OWN AUDIOBOOKS:

What you need:

  1. A recording device

I used my MP3 player.  It has a recording feature on it.  I imagine you could also use your phone.  The important thing is that it records in mp3 format.

I use a Sandisk Sanza Clip Zip, but I’m not actually sure they’re available anymore, as they’re listed as unavailable on amazon.ca.

  1. The perfect book to read

This might seem a little too obvious. But, picking the right style of book is critical to the end result – which is you getting time to yourself.

The topic doesn’t really matter – just choose something that your kids will love.

The style of the book does matter.  You want a book that has multiple stories in it. My favourite is the 5 Minute Stories series.  There are tonnes of different themes and each book has about 12 stories in them.

I bought ours at our local book store, but they are also available on Amazon and at Chapters.

  1. Optional: A bell

It isn’t necessary to have a bell (or some other fun sound) to signal the page turns.  You can just say: “Turn the page.” But, it’s kind of fun to ring the bell.

And if you get your kids to help you when you’re creating your own audiobooks, which I recommend, they’ll probably get a kick out of ringing the bell.

The Process:

  1. Record each story as an individual file
  • You want to record the each story individually for two reasons:
    • First: it means you don’t have to record all the stories in one sitting.
    • Second: it means that your kids can choose which story they want to listen to first, and you won’t have to go searching through a giant file, trying to find the start of the one they want.
  1. Transfer files to your computer
  • If necessary – you might be able to do this on your device, depending on what kind of recording device you use.
  1. Rename the files
  • I saved them with an abbreviation of the book and the page number.
  1. Create a playlist
  • Make sure the files are in the order that they are in the book
  • The reason you create a playlist is so that when they finish listening to one story, the next one will automatically start without any intervention from you 🙂 .
  1. Save the playlist to the device to be used for playback.
  • If you put the playlist on repeat, then when they get to the end of the playlist (book), it will automatically go back to the beginning. This is handy when your kid wants to start with a story near the end of the book.

SOME EXTRA TIPS:

  1. After each page, tell them to turn the page and ring the bell (if you’re using). I found it worked better if I actually said to turn the page, rather than just ringing the bell.
  2. When you finish reading the page, leave some time before you tell them to turn the page. This gives them time to finish looking at the pictures.  I counted to 10.
  3. After they’ve turned the page, leave some time for them to get oriented on the next page before you start reading. I counted to 10 again.  This ensures that they don’t get left behind.
  4. At the end of the story, say “the end” and then prompt them that the next story will start in a moment.
  • In some books, the next story is on the same page that the previous story ended. In this case make sure to prompt them to stay on this page.
  • If the next story starts on the next page, make sure to prompt them to turn the page.
  1. At the end of the book, you can prompt them that it is the end of the book, but if they wish to keep listening, they can turn back to the beginning of the book. I also always leave a message of love here.
  2. At first, I always made the books when my kids weren’t around. I wanted the stories to be perfect, and they couldn’t seem to stop themselves from commenting.  But, I learned that it doesn’t matter.  They don’t mind if they’ve spoken during the book.  So, I started recording them live, while I was reading to my kids.  It’s much more efficient.  And also a lot of fun.
  3. If you make mistakes, don’t worry, they won’t mind. Just correct yourself and keep reading. I wasted a lot of time starting over after misreading words.  It was frustrating and completely unnecessary.

Audiobooks, fun for kids, educational, parenting

DEVICE TO PLAY IT ON?

Of course, you’re going to need something to play the audiobooks on.

This is actually another reason that creating your own audiobooks is a brilliant solution.  The ready-made audiobooks come with CDs.  And I only have one device that plays CDs.  A big problem when I have two kids.

There are a multitude of different options available.  You just need a device that plays MP3s, has playlists and has a screen for navigating through the options.

At first, one twin used my phone and the other used my mp3 player.  But in the end, I ended up buying my kids their own mp3 players.  I got them the same one that I use – Sandisk Sanza Clip Zip.  I downloaded the files from my mp3 player onto my desktop computer, and then created a playlist in Windows Media Player to sync to their mp3 players.

I haven’t explored using my smart phone or tablet to do the whole process, but I imagine there must be apps that would allow you to.

Of note: now that they’re older, and more adept at using electronics, I have ripped the files from the audiobook cds, so they can listen to the audiobooks I bought as well.  Their preference, however, is still for the ones that I made 🙂 .

THE QUIET JUST KEEPS ON GOING

I started making the audiobooks for my twins when they were about three.  The first set, I actually gave them as Christmas presents.  They were a big hit.

They’re seven now, and they still listen to all of them.  Except Curious George.  They never really liked the Curious George book.  I guess the safest bet would be to let them pick their own books.

We’ve used them during long car trips, on the airplane, and when we’ve been waiting for appointments.

I’ve pulled them out countless time, when I needed a bit of quiet.  Or when they were having trouble getting along and needed some “down” time.

Now that they’re a bit older, they will listen to them without the books too.  So, sometimes, when they’re having trouble falling asleep or one is keeping the other awake, I will give them their mp3 players, and they fall asleep listening to their stories.

Audiobooks aren’t a replacement for reading stories to your kids, but they sure can come in handy when you need a little quiet time.

There are some great audiobooks on the market, but they don’t always quite function like you need.  I think you’ll find that creating your own audiobooks isn’t just practical; it’s a lot of fun too.

Have you ever made your own audiobook? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “TWIN HACKS – Creating Your Own Audiobooks For Kids”

  1. I absolutely love this idea. I used audio books with my son but they always cost so much. We had a long ride to school and we listened to the Harry potter series on audio. It was a unique experience. Great tip for all parents to try.

    1. It was really fun to make them. And they’ve lasted. In fact, I’m on a trip with them right now and they’ve been listening to them to help them fall asleep with the time change. Harry Potter on audiobook would be amazing! I’ve been thinking I should create some chapter book audiobooks for them.

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