My granddaughter lives more than 3000 miles away, and I can read to her every day. Every time I have shared the nature of my project — whether with a teacher, grandparent, or librarian — the idea has wowed them, and I’m honestly amazed that I’m not simply following in a long-standing tradition. So whether or not my project is original, perhaps it will inspire others who have long-distance grandchildren and longing hearts to read to them.
I invested in a digital recorder. There were more expensive ones and cheaper ones; mine was around $50 on Amazon and its main selling point was its excellent reviews. It is very easy to use, and I simply record myself reading a book. These are very small books for very small people, and one book, read slowly, with about 5 seconds between page turns, creates an MP3 file of well under 10 minutes. One of the books I have read is only 55 seconds long.
It’s a simple matter to upload the MP3 file to my computer, and I store all the files in a folder on my desktop. I rename each file with the book title. When I have about an hour’s worth of files, I will upload them to a CD. I list the book titles according to track number, and put an illustration in the CD box. Once I have a CD ready, I send it to my daughter, along with the books recorded on it. Since it’s easy and a lot of fun to read several books in an afternoon, I can have a CD ready in a couple of days.
There is a lot out there about how important it is for an infant to begin hearing voices of important people in their lives as early as possible. The books I am recording will accustom my granddaughter to my voice. During the earliest stage of her baby’s life, my daughter will play this CD for her for periods of time. Nothing will make sense of course at six weeks old, but the baby will become accustomed to my voice. Later, when my granddaughter is old enough to actually be read to, my daughter can show her the pictures in the book while the recording is played of grandma reading to her.
The project does not have to be expensive. Offsetting the cost of the digital recorder, I hit a library sale and scored 18 books, including seven by A. A. Milne, for $1.85. In any case, I happen to think books are an excellent investment — and, no matter what the cost, it’s less than airfare. And for someone who can’t fly for health reasons, the bargain is incalculable.