How to make your own bilingual audio books

How to make your own bilingual audio books

The Question

I’ve never tried this with my son.

I guess I have my doubts that he would be engaged without anything to look at! I also don’t want to subscribe to Audible for children’s books that are so short – I wouldn’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.

Maybe you can share some tips here, Mariana – why do you love them so much?

Does your daughter listen to chapter books? Does she have the book in hard copy to look at while she listens?

Where does she listen – in the car, in her room, …? What is a list of her top 10 favorite titles?

The answer

Audio books can be a huge asset for bilingual children and families in general.  Here are just some of the many benefits that audio books can bring into your home as they:

  • Can bring to life children’s literature;
  • Are highly captivating for most children;
  • Provide exposure to the stress, rhythm and tone of the target language;
  • Introduce your children to other speakers of the language;
  • Can make your child’s already favorite titles into even more interesting pieces of literature;
  • Allows for personalization and customization to your child’s interest.

As a family, we have embraced audio books and have made a quite a few of our own.  We have learned a lot of different tips and tricks to make it easy for us to produce while interactive enough for our daughter to enjoy the process.

Let me share some of our my favorite resources and best practices that we have picked up along the way.

Recording the Audio

Both my husband Todd and I have iPhones and we use an app called “Just Press Record.”  This app is amazing because that’s really all you have to do, you press record and you can instantly record your audio books and have an .mp4 ready to go.  You can send it off right form the app via message, whatsapp, email and many other tools.  You can also chose to get the audio recording transcribed which is pretty cool.  You do have to pay for the app although it’s just $2.99 but it is limited to iOS.  That being said, I am sure there are similar apps that will play nice with Android.

Selecting the book

We tend not to record a brand new book.  Our daughter generally loves every book but we instead tend to focus on books she already loves.  Reading the same story multiple times can help with fluency and so we tap into this by selecting books she has already enjoyed. 

Creating a visual

We want to make sure that the time we invest making these audio books are going to be worth your while.  If you make an audio book you probably want to make sure that your child uses it.  We came up with a pretty clever way of ensuring that they are used.  We make a photocopy of the cover of the audio book we created.  We then, take an old DVD case and slide the cover into the outside of the DVD case and then we add it to our children’s book case.  This way they can also choose to listen to the recording at bedtime or while we are playing in their room.

Time to listen

Another thing we keep in mind is being purposeful with when and where to listen to the audio books.  We find that sometimes when we are in the car we are not having the most quality conversations because we are in a rush or we are not making eye contact or traffic is distracting.  These are great opportunities to plug our phone into the USB of the car and listen to the .mp4 of a particular story. 

List of titles

The member that originally posed the question did ask for my daughter’s top ten titles and so for anyone who may also be interested and looking for inspiration here are the current favorites:

Tikki Tikki Tembo

El Gruffalo

Donde Viven los Monstruos

Jorge el Curioso

Corre Carro Corre

Madeline

Any Mercer Mayer Little Critters book

Como Te Amo

A que sabe la luna

Si le das un (blank) a un (blank)… that entire collection

In English she also LOVES Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and A Bad Case of Stripes

Now let me leave you with one last idea.  The member that originally answered this question embraced the idea of creating your own audio books and ran with it.  I am so impressed with what she is done that I wanted to share it with you because it is just too good.  She made a few of these and not only is she sharing them with her kids but is also giving one to her niece as a gift.  What a great idea!  Her husband also recorded some books for the kids in a video so another great spin as to what you can do with audio books.

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