Wednesday, December 22, 2010

semi-home made for the holidays

Remember all those great "read along" books from your childhood? Back when I was young, the audio was on a record and I'd lay on the floor next to my record player and flip through the pages, waiting for the pixie dust sound, when it was time to turn the page. So great!

My 5 year old nephew now has the more modern version: read along books on CD and MP3 which got me to thinking...

Christmas is here again and I have it on good authority that Santa is going to be delivering toys aplenty so I decided to give him gifts that AREN'T toys, but books! And to increase the fun quotient, I've decided to read the books aloud and record them on CD to include with the books. The idea is to give a bit more of a personal touch to these store bought gifts and, hopefully, encourage him to listen to them more -- what's better than a book read by Tia Mia? (don't answer that!)

I have an external microphone for my computer that I'm using and capturing the audio can be done in LOTS of simple ways. I am using Camtasia, because it's software that I am familiar with and is dead simple to use (there's also a free 30 day trial, if you want to test it yourself). I've also found a "pixie dust sound" to insert when it's time to turn the page (this particular one cost $1 to license and came with 2 sound effects). There are oodles of free audio software (and mp3 sounds!) available out there and they're all made 'for dummies' so it's really easy to create your own recordings.

After they're done (I'll post pictures when everything is complete), I'll burn each story on to it's own CD and print a full-face label that matches the book so that it's easy to see which CD goes with which story (he's an early reader, so these visual cues are helpful, but if you have an older child you can probably just write the book name on the disc).

This gift is fun for kids of all ages! Think of how much the toddlers on your list would like hearing you read them a story! Even teens and tweens will think it's cool -- especially if you get creative and do "voices" while you're reading. Imagine Twilight narrated by grumpy uncle Ryan! Such fun! Your files will be digital already, so you can even send by email rather than by disc, and they'll be ready to download onto iPods and taken everywhere.

As you can see, this is a quick, fun and inexpensive way to personalize your holiday gift giving.

* audio software (many free versions available online) - cost: $0
* microphone (many laptops have them built-in, but you can find them online for as low as $0.01!) - cost: $0+
* CD (depending on number purchased, the cost goes way down. I have even seen small spindles available at the dollar store) - cost $1+
* book - cost varies

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