About two years ago, I helped my parents record a small book of nursery rhymes for Miles. My mom had either thought of the idea on her own or seen it suggested on one of the many websites with ideas for bonding with your grandparents. She also had a small photo book filled with pages of the nursery rhymes and corresponding pictures. Absolutely adorable and Miles loved it. I used it strategically, when I took my showers, turning it on his CD player with the “Repeat” option turned on. It was so cool to see his little eyes light up, hear him gasp and say “Gawmaw!!”
The only problem with the “Grandma and Grandma Reading” CD is that it is a very short recording. So last Christmas, I decided to record my own CD of myself reading many of his favorite books, something he could listen to at night that would be long enough for him to fall asleep during one playback. I wanted something calming that would help him fall asleep and would continue his love of books and reading. In some strange way, I also wanted something that if something ever happened to me, he would have a recording of my voice.
Here’s what you need to do to record your own:
1. Decide on your recording plan. Will you use your computer? Your phone? If you have a webcam, it’s fairly easy to use the microphone to record, but most newer phones also have pretty good microphones and recording capabilities. If you have a smartphone, there are great apps you can use. For instance, we have used the “Tape-A-Talk” app for Android to record podcast segments and then instantly send them to backup storage using DropBox. For my first 2 CDs, I used my podcasting headset mic and the Garage Band program on my Macbook, but if I ever make another one, I might use my phone (and a pair of iPhone earbuds with a microphone). Simple is good.
2. Find good directions and do a few test runs. Once you figure out what you want to use, just search for something like “How to record voice using Garage Band” or “How to make a CD from cell phone recordings.” Google is awesome. If you have trouble finding directions and you really want to do this, leave a comment and tell me what you’re having trouble with — we’ll help you!
3. Select your books. We have had Miles signed up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library since he was a few months old. If you aren’t familiar with this program, it’s a program founded by Dolly Parton where free books are sent to your child every month from birth to age five. They’re great books, classics like “The Little Engine That Could” and newer books as well. It started in Tennessee only, but is now available in most states, and even Canada and the UK! From birth to five, your child will receive 60 free books, to start their own personal library and begin a love of reading. Find out more about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library here!
When selecting the books for my CDs, I chose a variety of books, silly books where I use fun character voices as well as calm, peaceful books with night and sleep themes.
4. Choose your order. Since the idea is to calm the boys down for bedtime and let them imagine the pages of the stories, I start with the fun, silly books and gradually end up with the peaceful books. Keep in mind how many minutes you will have for recording. Most CD-Rs will give you about 90 minutes, but our CDs haven’t been that long. I think one is 45 minutes and the other 60.
5. Record your stories! I definitely recommend recording each story on a separate track and naming each one when you finish (this will be important when arranging your CD). Remember to keep it fun, so use those silly voices your kids love. Be animated!
6. Arrange your tracks. Personally, I would use iTunes for this step. Once you import your tracks to iTunes, simply make a playlist and put the tracks in the order you chose.
7. Copy to disc. Once your tracks are all recorded and arranged in iTunes (or whatever program you prefer), insert a blank CD-R and choose the option to copy the playlist to disc. Several minutes later, you’ll be finished!
** Bonus Points: If you’re super creative and have the know-how, you could also do things like add music behind the story tracks or make a fancy CD label. We haven’t done that at our house, but maybe you’re more awesome than I am! I’d love to hear what special touches you put on yours!
Last Christmas, I did this very last-minute. It doesn’t take that long, but I would recommend getting started before the last week before Christmas! If you have some technical know-how, it will take much less time. I did the first one on my own (that CD is called “Mama Stories” by Miles) but a few months later, my husband recorded a second CD with me (“Dada Stories”). It was really fun to get him involved and hear the different ways he reads the books.
These CDs make a great stocking stuffer for your kids. It’s an idea that costs almost nothing but your kids (or grandkids!) will treasure forever.
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