A Reading Challenge: The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

I hope you’re wearing your battle pants. We’ve traveled from the magical land of storyscapes in search of fearless warriors for our latest reading challenge! Will you be victorious?

Now through September 25th, each time you read The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt with your Novel Effect app you’ll be entered to win a Halloween Early Access Bundle. The more times you read The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors with a storyscape the more chances you’ll have to win!

Three winners will be choose at random to receive:
– 3 Halloween Books with early access to new storyscapes
– 1 yr Premium Membership to Novel Effect, for yourself or to gift to a friend
– $50 Gift Card

Plus, EVERYONE who completes the reading challenge will gain early access to new Halloween storyscapes before they’re released in October!

Open The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors storyscape:

On mobile? Tap above

On desktop? Scan with a mobile device

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt is about the epic tale of the classic game Rock, Paper, Scissors and guaranteed to get you some giggles. This early in the school year it can also be a helpful read aloud to remind or teach children to use the game as a tool to solve simple disagreements.

Terms & Conditions for The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors Challenge: No purchase necessary. Must be 18 or older to enter. US and CA residents only. To enter, read aloud The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors with your Novel Effect app now through 9/25 at midnight PST. Three winners will be randomly chosen and notified via the email associated with their Novel Effect app. Challenge not affiliated with Drew Daywalt or HarperCollins Publishers. Questions? We’re here to help, email support@noveleffect.com


Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring this book to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

The Dot: Printable Art Show Activity

On September 15th(ish) teachers, librarians, students, and families around the globe celebrate creativity, courage, and collaboration for International Dot Day. We can’t wait! The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds made our growth mindset list, but we also love that it’s also a great picture book to show our littles the creative process and how our values affect our perception.

To help you inspire creativity in kids who think they “can’t,” we created this set of 28 FREE printable gallery picture frames to fill with your unique dots. Print them out, add crayons or paint and some artists, then make a mark and see where it takes it you!

If you’d like to share it with us, we’d love to see your Dot Day creativity on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok.


Remember to read The Dot with your Novel Effect app by 9/16 to be entered to win books, a premium membership, and a $100 gift card for art supplies!


Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

Share Ideas and Think Positively With Picture Books

The What Do You Do With…? series from Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom came to mind when looking at the calendar for read aloud inspiration this month. These beautifully illustrated, fantastically told picture books will inspire kids, and their grownups, to discover the amazing things that happen when you nurture your bright ideas, face your problems, and take bold chances.

What Do You Do With An Idea? is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. It can kickstart discussions about the ideas we have that seemed a little too big, too odd, or too difficult and inspire each of us to welcome our ideas, help them grow, and see what happens next.

The follow-ups to the award winning original focus on positive thinking when faced with challenges. What Do You Do with a Problem? to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. The final book in the series, What Do You Do With a Chance?* is the story of missed opportunities and the courage to be brave, not all the time, but at the right time.

What Do You Do with an Idea? and What Do You Do With A Problem? are both available to read aloud with a storyscape on Novel Effect, they’re highly emotive and beautifully enhance the efforts of Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom to make complex concepts accessible to young readers.

Give these book a read on National Swap Ideas Day, Sept. 10 or National Positive Thinking Day, Sept. 13. The What Do You Do With A… series includes picture books to encourage kids to embrace a growth mindset, share a creative idea, face a problem, or take a chance anytime of year!

* We haven’t yet added What Do You Do With A Chance? to the Novel Effect library. Let us know in the comments if you think it deserves a storyscape!


Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

Picture Books to Read Aloud with Grandma and Grandpa

Did you know this Sunday, September 12th is National Gradparents Day? The grandchild/grandparent relationship is a special one, reading aloud together can strengthen that bond. I learned to love reading from my mom and now, as a parent, there’s nothing I get a kick out of more than hearing her read aloud to her grandchildren and share that same enthusiasm for reading with them.

When grandparents choose to spend time with their grandchildren reading, they’re sending the message that reading is a fun way to spend time. Even better? They’re sharing experiences together they can draw on for years to come whether the books feature strong moral messages or are just plain silly.

This year, as my first-grader continues building her reading skills we’ll be celebrating Grandparents Day by having her read aloud to Nana on a video call. If you’re looking for a last minute gift, a copy of a cherished picture book with a handwritten note from their grandchildren will be treasured for years to come.

Here are some of our favorite picture books that celebrate the stories grandparents and their loved ones.

The Great and the Grand

Breathtaking illustrations combine with a simple, beautiful narrative in Benjamin Fox’s sweet, captivating story about a baby and great grandfather meeting for the first time.

Last Stop on Market Street

CJ’s weekly bus journey is transformed through the energy and encouragement of his Nana, who helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine.

Grandfather’s Journey

Alan Say’s award winning account of his family’s unique cross-cultural experience conveys the love he has for his two countries, one that he shares with his grandfather.

Thank You, Omu

A generous grandmotherly woman is rewarded by her community in Oge Mora’s debut picture book, that’s also perfect for fall.

Strega Nona’s Harvest

Tomi dePaola’s beloved ‘grandmother witch’ attempts to teach Big Anthony about gardening and the importance of order. But things don’t go quite as planned.

Rainbow Stew

The vegetables in Grandpa’s garden are just waiting to be picked in Cathryn Falwell’s tribute to the beautiful colors found in the vegetable patch.

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

18 Picture Books for a Growth Mindset

Failure is inevitable. Helping kids understand that learning something new takes time, and it doesn’t always happen on the first try can help them overcome challenges and develop their own growth mindest.

A growth mindset means a child believes they can learn and improve themselves through their own hard work and perseverance. Kids with a growth mindset are more likely to take risks, tackle challenges, and learn from their mistakes. This means they need to fail sometimes.

As grown-ups, we can prepare them to find the opportunity within every obstacle or set back they face. Growth mindset books show sticking with a goal is an essential skill for success in life. Try these titles, and their storyscapes, to help you start conversations about failure that will help your kids become more resilient.

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do

by Ashley Spires

​​The Most Magnificent Thing

by Ashley Spires

Jabari Jumps

by Gaia Cornwall

Ada Twist, Scientist

by Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere, Engineer

by Andrea Beaty

After the Fall

by Dan Santat

Emmanuel’s Dream

by Laurie Ann Thompson

What Do You Do With an Idea?

by Kobi Yamada

What Do You Do With a Problem?

by Kobi Yamada

Oh The Places You’ll Go

by Dr. Seuss

The Day the Crayons Quit

by Drew Daywalt

Giraffes Can’t Dance

by Giles Andreae

The Dot

by Peter H. Reynolds

The Bad Seed

by Jory John

The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson

Mala’s Magic Pencil

by Malala Yousafzai

The Little Engine that Could

by Watty Piper

Slumberkins presents Narwhal

by Kelly Oriard

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

7 Great Picture Books to Teach Authenticity

Teaching children to live authentically means supporting them as they learn to listen to their conscience and respect and value others. This can be tricky for a lot of people, especially kids, when their own needs and preferences are different from the people around them.

As grown-ups, we can coach them to look beyond labels and outside appearances to be more open when meeting new friends or trying new things. As they develop the skills to understand their own needs, feelings, and preferences, they’ll become better at sharing messages of respect, love, approval, and encouragement with others. 

Reading books with positive messages about different families, backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and languages help children to develop pride, self-worth, and confidence. Here are some of our favorite stories that empower all children to shape their own experience.

We’re All Wonders

Auggie knows he is a wonder, but he wants everybody to realize they are all wonders, too.

Not Quite Narwhal

Born deep in the ocean, Kelp is not like the other narwhals and one day, when he spies a creature on land that looks like him, he learns why.

Sparkle Boy

Young Casey loves sparkly things, just like his older sister, who does not approve until an encounter with teasing bullies helps her learn to accept and respect Casey for who he is.

You Should, You Should

Hippo’s morning starts off good, until friends say, “You should! You should!” They’ll soon find out that being yourself is what life’s about.

Be Who You Are

Encourages kids to embrace all their unique qualities.

Unicorn (and Horse)

We are sometimes unicorns. We are sometimes horses. But, it’s our differences that make us all unique.

Red: A Crayon’s Story

A blue crayon accidentally gets labelled as red, and tries to be red, but learns that he has to be true to himself – he’s blue!

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

Picture Books to Boost Self-Esteem & Confidence

Kids who know their strengths, understand their uniqueness, and embrace both, have the confidence to try new things. Self-esteem helps kids deal with mistakes and try again, even if they fail at first. They are more likely to try their best, and feel proud of what they can do. As a result, they do better at school, at home, and with friends.

As a parent, one of my goals is to give my children a safe space to be themselves. Whether it’s encouraging them to follow their own interests, supporting their desire to try things they aren’t good at yet, or teaching them to celebrate the ways they are unique, they will always know I love them unconditionally and exactly as they are.

It’s never too early, or too late, to help kids develop and improve how they see and value themselves. Here are our favorite books to offer opportunities to discuss the importance and power of confidence.

I Am Every Good Thing

Illustrations and easy-to-read text pay homage to the strength, character, and worth of a child.

I Am Enough

A gorgeous lyrical ode to self-confidence and kindness, for girls from every background and every color.

The Dot

An art teacher’s encouragement leads a young girl to change her mind about her abilities.

Hair Love

An ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters.

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Gerald is a giraffe that can’t dance until one night he finds his own special music.

How Much is a Little Girl Worth

This tenderhearted book teaches girls that they have immeasurable worth to face any challenge life puts in their path.

The Little Engine that Could

A treasured story of the blue locomotive who exemplifies the power of positive thinking.

Download the Novel Effect app for FREE to bring these  stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

Picture Books About Friendship, Kindness, & Belonging

Starting school is one of the biggest times in a child’s life to make new friends. Fostering a sense of belonging for our children and establishing the expectation that they will extend a sense of belonging to others is especially important at the beginning of a new year. 

Some children will confidently walk into their new classroom. For others, it is an overwhelming experience because of their shyness and fears. Friendships help all children develop trust, compassion, and a sense of belonging. 

Harmonious friendships take practice, explore these books about friendship to encourage children to share, cooperate, and see events from a different perspective.

The Day You Begin

A heartening book about finding courage to connect with others, even while feeling scared and alone

The Invisible Boy

This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

Be Kind

A thoughtful picture book illustrating the power of small acts of kindness.

Stick and Stone

A delightful story about making and helping friends and sticking up for them.

Strictly No Elephants

A sweet story that captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet.

The Adventures of Frank and Mustard: Differently Awesome

A book that inspires readers to take pride in and accept the differences that make us each unique.

Horton Hears a Who

A tale of compassion and determination proves that any person, big or small, can choose to speak out for what is right.

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

8 Books to Help Kids Understand Their Feelings

Books can be a great tool for connecting and empathizing with all kinds of different emotions.

Kids come with a wide range of emotions, some are more difficult to handle than others. Feelings like anger, frustration, loneliness, worry, sadness, grief, and fear can be uncomfortable, but learning to deal with them all is an essential part of growing up. 

It’s important for kids to be able to accept all their feelings, even the uncomfortable ones. We can talks with them about comfortable and uncomfortable feelings—rather than good or bad—to better equip them to accept any of the feelings that come with being human. 

Books can be a great tool for connecting and empathizing with all kinds of different emotions. As you read these stories talk about the feelings of the characters, ask questions, listen, and learn.

The Kissing Hand

When Chester the raccoon is reluctant to go to kindergarten for the first time, his mother teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him.

Grumpy Monkey

When Jim the chimpanzee can’t shake his bad mood one day, he discovers the danger in suppressing unexplained feelings.

The Color Monster

When Color Monster wakes up with his emotions all over the place, a little girl helps him gains self-awareness and peace by identifying each feeling through color.

The Feels

Join Yeti on a journey of self-discovery as she meets her feelings and learns how to take care of each one.

The Rabbit Listened

When Taylor’s block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling.

Download the Novel Effect app for free to bring these stories to life with music and sounds that respond to your voice.

The future of storytelling is all about voice!

Today is a big day here at Novel Effect… We’re excited to announce the release of our voice-driven interactive video showcase on our free website and mobile apps!

We’ve all been there: shouting at our favorite characters to watch out, or groaning as they make a decision that spirals out of control… they’ve always ignored us. Now, for the first time with Novel Effect you can talk to, influence, and see or hear characters respond.

We listened to what you loved about reading books out loud with Novel Effect and your thoughts about kid’s video and tv as we brought this new format for entertainment to life. Thank you, especially to our beta testers, for your expertise, feedback, and applause, as we continue to elevate the power of storytelling.

Now, voice, literacy, and video blend together and let kids (and grown-ups) take a key role in the story. It brings the element of active play into a traditionally passive experience, and puts you in control. The results are a unique way to engage, inspire, and delight children and improve educational outcomes.

Be a part of the story
It’s the same “magic” we use to make reading aloud with books interactive, applied to videos that are perfect for 7 to 10 year-olds just beginning to read. Younger kids with a parent are sure to have fun as well – my own 4-year-old can’t get enough of Interactive-Chef Matt. 

Pick an experience and take an active role in a story together – we know you’ll be delighted!

You want me to read this line here?
You can try our videos on any microphone enabled computer or mobile device. We’ve even made it possible to pair your mobile device with our website so you can use it as a microphone if your computer doesn’t have one.

Click or tap play and voice-driven videos begin like any other video, except sometimes speech bubbles appear on-screen. Reading the text inside them out loud continues the episode, with interactions that range from narrative to actual conversations with characters.

Your voice. Your choice.
Natural back-and-forth interactions have been imitated by children’s television shows for the last 50 years, and kids love it. We found they want to be a part of the story and expect their favorite characters to speak and respond to them. Our existing “magic” made this an easy task. To make our videos more interactive, we went a step further and included branching storylines. How do you like your  omelette? Give Cooking with Matt a try and choose the ingredients you prefer! 

Boost reading confidence
Continuing our mission to get kids excited about reading and tell great stories, voice-driven videos are designed to engage kids in a reading activity that motivates them to read more and is fun to try over and over again. With branching stories you get to shape the story as you go and make different choices every time. Participating in the experiences together is an opportunity to inspire and engage kids while improving educational outcomes.

We’d love your read on it
Novel Effect is free to use on iOS 11+ and Android 6+ and includes hundreds of soundscapes for children’s books, as well as the new video showcase. On our website, voice-driven videos are best experienced using Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera.

At the end of the videos you can leave a review and let us know what you think, we can’t wait to hear it!