Interactive Read Aloud Books to Ignite Creativity

Blog post about interactive read aloud books. Header image with six book covers and "let's read aloud with Novel Effect" logo.

Have you ever experienced interactive read aloud books? They are quite a unique experience; one that you won’t forget. 

Interactive picture books require the listener to do something. They may tell the reader to say something silly, touch something on the page, or get up and move. It is an entirely immersive activity, is engaging to use with children of all ages, and even helps little learners conceptualize cause and effect.

For example, one of the best-known interactive picture books, Press Here by Hervé Tullet, begs the reader to press the page’s red, yellow, and blue dots. The reader is rewarded with seeing the dots multiply, move, and change size and color. 

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson is another excellent example of a book that engages readers through interactivity. When the reader blows, shakes, knocks, and jiggles the book, the leaves on the tree grow, apples grow and fall to the ground, and the leaves disappear from branches.

Benefits of interactive read aloud books.
Interactive read aloud books tips and tricks by Novel Effect

Why Use Interactive Read Aloud Books?

Interactive picture books create a special experience for young children and budding readers. The required physical and mental engagement of these books helps little learners make concrete connections between reading and meaning. 

Reading aloud to children helps increase critical thinking and develops vocabulary. Interactive read aloud books add many additional benefits.

  • Makes the Listener Responsible for the Story’s Outcome: Children see a direct correlation between what they do and their actions’ effect on the story. 
  • Teaches Vocabulary and Concepts: When children are told to jiggle the tree in Tap the Magic Tree they learn about fruit-bearing trees.
  • Engages Children to Think Creatively: In Go Away Big Green Monster, children see creative language used to describe facial features. This language can be transferred to their own writing.
  • Encourages Logical Thinking: When students press the dot 5x in Press Here, they engage in mathematical thinking as they figure out how the dots are multiplying 5x, and the total number of dots. 
  • Connects Print to Meaning: When students hear a word and then act it out, they understand that the print said something that has a meaning behind it.

For all of these reasons, interactive picture books are perfect for early readers, reluctant readers, and disengaged students. Instead of passively listening to the story, children actively make meaning. Imagine if all books were interactive like this! 

Novel Effect book read aloud

How to Make All Read Alouds Interactive

Picture books like the ones mentioned above are designed specifically to engage the reader. But not all picture books are inherently interactive.

Books that do not have interactive features rely on engaging adults to make a delightful experience for the listener. And not every reader is comfortable making sound effects, changing voices, or turning up the drama for their audience.

That’s okay. Especially when they have Novel Effect in their corner!

When you use Novel Effect while reading aloud picture books, it engages listeners the same way interactive picture books do. Interactive picture books demand active engagement from the listener. Novel Effect’s interactive soundscapes make all picture books interactive through the use of voice-driven music, sound effects, and character voices.

Elements of an Interactive Read Aloud

INTERACTIVE MUSIC included in soundscapes makes the listener feel a particular emotion, transports them to the setting, and reflects the overall tone of the book. While reading Tap the Magic Tree, the music makes listeners feel as if something wonderful will happen after they complete an action.  It builds anticipation which keeps the reader anxious for more.

SOUND EFFECTS bring meaning to unknown words, places, or situations. The Book With No Pictures includes interactive sound effects like record scratches, crying, and other engaging sounds that bring meaning to the utterly preposterous situation. This soundscape amplifies the fun and silliness of this book. In other books, sound effects draw readers into the illustrations.

CHARACTER REACTIONS are a lot of fun when using Novel Effect. While reading This Book Just Ate My Dog, you understand the main character’s excitement, confusion, anger, and urgency every time you hear her voice in the soundscape. Listeners of this soundscape get to experience firsthand a range of emotions.

Each of these soundscapes’ characteristics engages the reader. It makes them sit up and pay particular attention to what’s happening in the story. What will they hear next? What will they feel as the story continues? What new place will they get to travel to?

When using soundscapes to make read-alouds interactive, try these tips:

  • Tell students to listen for particular sound effects and have them complete a specific action. For example, when they hear the sound of the wind, they get up to sway and gently blow a breeze.
  • Before reading, ask them to predict what sounds, characters, or music they think they’ll hear. Then have them pop up and say, ‘Nailed it!’ when their predictions come true.
  • After listening to the soundscape, let students critique it. What did they like and what did they wish had been included?
  • Play a game of “who did it better.” Invite students to recreate a part of the soundscape and vote on who did it better; the students or the designer.
  • When students hear a word and then act it out, they understand that the print said something that has a meaning behind it.
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