The Guardian published a list of advice from children’s laureates on how to raise bookworms. One of my favorite ideas comes from Julia Donaldson, an author I love. (I’ve read The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom to my daughter dozens of times—they are perfection.) Donaldson writes that she used to record herself reading her children’s favorite books so they could listen to them in the car. It’s such a simple thing, but so special. Even if you don’t love the sound of your voice [raises hand], your kids do. You could invite grandparents and long-distance relatives to make their own recordings, too.
How to do it: Pick a story, open up Voice Memos or your recording mechanism of choice, and start reading. Here are some tips for reading aloud from audiobook narrators. It’s okay if you mess up—in fact, it adds to the charm. “My parents recorded The Night Before Christmas for my kids several years ago,” writes Reddit user foxmom2. “Our favorite parts are the stumbles. Like when my dad paused as he was reading ‘on the breast … of the new-fallen snow.’ It always makes me laugh.”
If you have multiple kids, you might have an older child record a reading for the younger ones, as blogger Liska Myers’s son did for his little sister. “She loved the stories he recorded and giggled when she heard him meowing on the speaker as he recited one of her favorite stories Hairy Maclary Scattercat,” Myers’s writes. Or your kids can listen to their own recordings—it might motivate them to try new ways of reading or different types of books.
After you’ve made your audiobook, you can play it for your kids on road trips or as they’re brushing their teeth or when you’re busy in the kitchen. Author Austin Kleon tells us that he and his wife used to record themselves reading their kids’ favorite books and then drop the recording in a shared folder on Dropbox so they could play it for them on walks and trips. You can also use a service such as Plex or My Media Server for Alexa so that your kids can ask Alexa to play it when you’re not home.
The recording isn’t a substitute for cuddling together with a book, but it can be a source of comfort for your kids both now and later on, when they simply miss your voice.