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!

Welcome to Novel Effect 2.0!

Today is a big day here at Novel Effect, we’re excited to announce the release Novel Effect 2.0 on iOS and our first release on Android!

Today is a big day here at Novel Effect, we’re excited to announce the release Novel Effect 2.0 on iOS and our first release on Android!

We listened to what you loved about the old version of Novel Effect as well as suggestions on what we could do to improve as we planned and designed this update. Thank you, especially to our beta testers, for all of your suggestions, feedback, and cheers as we continue to regularly improve Novel Effect.

With powerful performance improvements and a more intuitive layout and design, we know you’ll love everything the new Novel Effect has to offer.

The first change you’ll see is our new logo. The ‘smile mic’ celebrates the happy, playful, and friendly nature at the core of Novel Effect. It’s a thoughtful evolution from our previous logo as we continue to grow.

The new layout of Novel Effect 2.0 is easier to use with 3 main sections: Home, My Library, and More.

The Home section is where you can easily discover new and favorite books for your next great read aloud.

Collections: We’ve added curated collections that group content based interests and what you want to read.

Search: You can now search by title, author, or subject to help you quickly find the book in your hand and start reading right away.

One of the biggest additions in Novel Effect 2.0 is the personalized ‘My Library’ section. Now  you can quickly access your Favorites, Downloads, and Recent Reads all in one place.

The updated book screen gives you better controls and easier navigation to get you reading quickly without distraction. Tap the Info section to learn about the book and the soundscape style. When you see the Get Ebook tab, you have the option to read with a free ebook (if available), or preview and buy the ebook from either Apple Books or Google Play Books. But remember, Novel Effect can run in the background while reading from any app, webpage, or print version of the book. If you’re ready to read aloud, just press the play button. When you hear the new start chime play Novel Effect is ready to follow along.

You can now share your favorite titles on Novel Effect, simply tap the share button to create a smart link. If your students, friends, and family don’t already use Novel Effect your link takes them to the right app store for their device. If they have Novel Effect installed the link opens the book screen for the title you shared directly on their app.

We’ve upgraded our ereader for better display and performance all around. You’ll find ebooks more easily and see they load faster so you can start reading right away..

Most importantly, Novel Effect 2.0 has powerful voice performance upgrades. The new Novel Effect is able to follow along more easily with different voices, accents, and even kids of many ages. You’ll experience better responsiveness during your read alouds, and may hear parts of a soundscape you never noticed before. These and other improvements also allow Novel Effect to run significantly better on a wider variety of devices than ever before.

The more section is a one-stop shop for managing your profile, and information about Novel Effect. Read FAQs, change your permissions, send us a quick email, or easily rate us in the App Store or on Google play… please 😉

Be a Storytime Hero in 2019

Happy New Year Novel Effect-ers!

new year-02

You made it through the holidays – the wonderful meals, the family fun, the late night festivities, and the seemingly non-stop gift giving.  And now it is time to kick off those new year’s resolutions! Continue reading “Be a Storytime Hero in 2019”

National Techies Day

At Novel Effect, we’re celebrating National Techies Day by talking to some of our Techies – these awesome people we get to work with daily to create magic – and asked them why they opted for a career in technology.

Today, October 3rd, is National Techies Day!! Celebrated annually since its origin in 1998, National Techies Day is set aside to encourage students to consider a career in technology, a career sector predicted to grow 22% by 2020.

At Novel Effect, we’re celebrating by talking to some of our Techies – these awesome people we get to work with daily to create magic – and asking them why they opted for a career in technology.

Here’s what they had to say:

Zhi Li, CTO

“I came to the U.S. with the dream of becoming a physicist but landed at the center of Silicon Valley. I was shocked by the heydays of the dotcom boom! In just two months, I decided to drop out and pursue a whole new world of computers.”




Eric Goetz, VP Content

“I’ve been combining music and technology ever since I was writing music in BASIC on my TI-99a at age 10. I love working in the tech industry, because I enjoy hanging out with smart and creative people.”





Grace Jang, Developer

“My favorite classes growing up were math, physics, wood shop and history. Each involves solving problems with a bit of creativity, and making stuff. Later, an older friend of mine suggested I take a computer science course, and behold! It was the best and most fun course I had taken throughout my time in college because I got to problem solve creatively all the time and make stuff digitally! So I changed my major to purse a tech related field. At that time, mobile apps and phones started becoming a huge hype. I became fascinated by how they can dramatically change the way we do things in life and give new opportunities to people. Now, I am in utter bliss making mobile apps and I only enjoy it more and more the more I problem solve and make new things!”


Ryan Lane, Developer

“I started writing games in BASIC when I was a kid on my Apple IIe. I was lucky to get into developing for the web back in the early 90s using the Spry version of the NCSA Mosaic browser. I was hooked ever since.”





Ju Namkung, Developer

“I studied linguistics in college and graduate school, which is great training for how to observe what’s happening in the world and how to reason about it analytically. In the 1990s, I fell in love with the World Wide Web when it was first starting out. That was an exciting time to get involved with a brand-new medium for sharing information, connecting with others, and getting things done. That excitement
continues to this day.”


We hope you enjoy celebrating #NationalTechiesDay!

Update Available

We’ve been hard at work making storytime better and better! Now it’s time to update to our latest version, 1.60.2! Here’s what we’ve added:


  • New, improved voice recognition (let the whole family try!)
  • Addressed some pesky bugs
  • New titles added! (I recommend “Zen Shorts”!)


Updating to 1.60.2 is easy! Just tap here on your iOS device to be taken to Novel Effect in the App Store. Once there, tap “Update”. The download will then start, and once it’s finished, you’re ready to enjoy!

Our Favorite Books to Try this Winter

My mother kept the Christmas decorations in the attic, where the heat escaped and you had to turn your head hard to the side to fit under the ceiling. We had three boxes full, containing colorful lights, wreaths, and crooked ornaments made from our little hands while in preschool. My favorite was a long garland with electric bells that would begin a carol at one end of the line and then pass the song along to a random bell somewhere further down; we used to wrap it around our banister and run up and down the garland trying to guess from which bell the music would play next.

However, the holiday season would never truly begin until my mother would unpack from the boxes our small library of Christmas books and arrange them on the coffee table. There, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg would usher in the season’s sense of magic and wonder. And Santa Cows by Cooper Eden would… well, that one was a bit odd, I admit, but it truly was the most cherished Christmas book of my midwestern family.

Books were one of the best ways my family celebrated winter. They allowed us to snuggle in our wool socks on the couch and laugh and think and learn what the holidays were all about. In an effort to celebrate the season and share good books with good people, here is a selection of holiday stories from the Novel Effect shelves this winter:


The Snowy Day

If any book perfectly captures the sense of joy and excitement of freshly fallen snow, it is Ezra Jack Keats’s Caldecott winner, The Snowy Day. Peter, the story’s protagonist with a red snowsuit, crunches and struts and slides in the snow, building snowmen, making angels, and exploring every way his imagination can think to play in it. The narrative, uneventful and unforced, allows for Peter’s delight to flourish and to represent something universal and genuine. For those who have not read this beautiful story, enjoy this version narrated by LeVar Burton.


Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Hena Khan’s book of rhyming verses and lush illustrations demonstrates the importance of celebrating your family and your faith. The young female narrator uses a range of splendid colors to identify and introduce significant components of her life. The radiant orange of her henna designs illuminate a two-page spread, while the gentle ripples of her mother’s sapphirine hijab stand out from a powder blue background. This book is beautiful and enriching for a family of any faith to read year round.


Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Taking inspiration from folklore, the story of the Maccabees, and Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Eric A. Kimmel manages to strike the right balance between spiritual and spooky in this entertaining tale about Hershel, the itinerant prankster. Determined to thwart any Hanukkah celebrations, a horde of goblins prove worthy antagonists for Hershel as they become increasingly vile and repulsive on each successive night. However, they forget that Hershel has some tricks up his sleeves. Armed with an egg, some pickles, and his clever wit, Herschel sets out to rescue the town and vanquish the goblins from the synagogue. Celebrate the Festival of Lights this year with Hershel and his thrilling adventure.


The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming

As Lemony Snicket observes, “Nearly everything in this world is born screaming, and the latke was no exception…” His main character’s outcry begins in a frying pan but continues as he meets Christmas decorations painfully oblivious of Hanukkah. The latke’s ire leads to humorous explanations of the holiday and a defense for potato pancakes, until he is eventually recognized by an understanding—and hungry—family. This hilarious book is a great way to gain perspective on the holiday season and to celebrate the Festival of Lights.


Owl Moon

Wordlessly, a father and daughter walk through the cold New England snow, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Great Horned Owl. Their adventure, told through Jane Yolen’s patient prose and John Schoenherr’s gentle watercolor illustrations, embodies a winter night’s magical ability to leave you both at peace and full of wonder. Best read by a warm fire with the winds howling outside your window, this book is perfect for bedtime during the holiday season.


You can find all these titles in the Novel Effect library with soundscapes to get you in the spirit: