Babies & Toddlers: Why I absolutely love reading noisy books!

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a picture of a book shelf with examples of colourful picture books for toddlers

#1 Noisy books are a fun way to encourage your child to make their own sounds

Some children I see in speech therapy are very quiet. There can be lots of different reasons why.  Maybe they think no-one will understand their speech? They could be feeling anxious about talking out loud in a new place, or in front of new people? Perhaps they just can’t make the sounds yet?  Or maybe they don’t know it will be fun to make silly sounds together with me!

But then they meet me….I’m a speech therapist, so of course I don’t want silence and quiet! I want to make all kinds of silly noises. I want to bang on the drum, stamp our feet, clap our hands. I want to blow raspberries, roar loudly Iike a tiger, hiss quietly like a snake and shout ‘boo!’ I want to play with all the sounds we can make with our bodies and our voices.

I love books that are all about the fun of just making a noise. They are amazing for taking pressure off talking. Even children with no speech at all can join in the fun. Some books encourage you to copy the noises or the actions, and some even make sounds when you press a button. These are a great way for children without speech to experience shared sound-making, and still experience the fun reactions of other people to the sounds they make.  

Why don’t you try adding your own silly sounds to noisy stories? You can always use your own voice to add funny sound effects and children absolutely love it when adults and siblings do this! If you are feeling creative, you could find special sound clips online to go with a favourite page in a book you love to share. You could also record sounds from in & around your own home, use musical instruments you make yourself or just bang on pots and pans? BBC Tiny Happy People is another good place to look for ideas and advice.

#2 Noisy books are great for listening to sounds together

Every day since they were born, (and even in the womb) your child has been surrounded by sounds. They have been feeling vibrations & listening to rhythms, volume and pitch: the calming rise & fall of your breathing, comforting rhythm of your familiar heartbeat; the sound of your voice and the beats of the music you play and sing along to.  Your baby soon learns to recognise the very special noise of your voice as you talk, hum, sing and babble to them. Soon they can pick it out from other noises, and from other voices. This is the beginning of attention, listening and sound discrimination skills.

Noisy books are a fun way to build on these developing sound matching skills, through shared moments of storytime with you.  Simple board books with bright pictures & just a few pages work well for little ones with 30 seconds of attention!

I usually start off with simple books that have a noise that you can repeat on each page…‘tap tap tap’ goes the hammer… ‘beep beep beep’… ‘moo moo’…‘sh’ quiet, the puppy’s sleeping.  Little ones like sameness and repetition. When they hear the same fun sounds, over & over again, they start to recognise the sequence of the story. This helps them to get ready for what’s coming next. Now, as you turn the page, or lift the flap, they are anticipating and more ready to look & listen.

As your child develops you could make a story bag of toys & sounds that go with a favourite noisy story and show your child how they can join in and act out the noises. Talk about the types of noise: quiet, loud, long, short, high, low.  Compare noises and help children really notice differences between the individual sounds. Listening and matching the sound to an object or a picture supports language, speech sound discrimination and literacy. See if you can listen together for other sounds in your own environment that your child hears every day.

#3 Noisy books are perfect for sharing ‘people time’ with you.

When you spend time with your child and share a favourite noisy book together, your little one is enjoying the interaction with you, and not just enjoying the book!  They know they have your full attention, and it is your special time together.  It is an opportunity for shared interaction, closeness and connection.

As you tell the story in your own special way your little one will start to look at your face. They are expectantly waiting for you to make that fun noise you always do or say that word they are waiting for!

Some children will also watch your mouth very closely, ready & waiting for the sound to come out…absolutely amazing for speech, language and social interaction.

Don’t be afraid to do your own thing with picture books…I definitely don’t read all the words on the page, and I always find myself making up different silly sounds for different children. 

You might make a new noise one day, or do a silly face that your little one loves and asks for again & again. The magic of storytelling is that you become part of what is fun about that book! Your child will look forward to hearing your special home-made sounds and the way you read that book together with them will soon become the best way to read that book!


Top Tips for finding a good book to share with your baby or toddler:

  • look for bright and colourful books with simple illustrations
  • look for sturdy lift-the-flap books and board books
  • look for books with the same short repetitive phrase on each page like ‘what’s that noise?’
  • choose books with lots of toe tapping rhythm to join in with
  • choose books with lots of fun sounds you can make together
  • for older pre-schoolers look for books that rhyme
  • do include your child’s interests and get books about animals, trains, unicorns and diggers if they love those things.
  • If you love to sing, rap, dance or play an instrument why not find musical books to share your interests with your child too.
  • Borrow books from friends and family, check out school fairs and boot sales. I have some great older books that I love.
  • Use BookTrust’s online children’s book finder tool to start you off with some ideas.
  • find your local library and pop into their children’s section. Why not ask if they are running a free BookTrust Storytime session for babies & children 0-5 while you are there?
  • Have you heard about Bookstart? Every child in England and Wales is entitled to a free Bookstart pack before they are 12 months old.

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