Super-Fan Spotlight: Melinda Louvier

I discovered the Novel Effect app this past February while attending the TCEA conference in San Antonio. As an Ed Tech Specialist, we are charged with bringing our newly gained conference knowledge back and sharing with our coworkers and district teachers. The instant I learned about the existence of Novel Effect, I claimed it as my ‘one cool thing’ that I wanted to share when we returned, and I’ve been both an avid fan and cheerleader ever since! Even though my job is all about technology, the main thing I love about Novel Effect is that the focus isn’t on the technology—it remains on the book! The Novel Effect sound effects just add multiple layers to the reading experience.

Teachers downloading Novel Effect for their classrooms!

The weekend after the conference, I asked my 21 year old son if I could show him something really cool that I was doing at work. With no explanation whatsoever, I opened the Novel Effect app, turned on my Bluetooth speaker, and started reciting my all-time favorite book, Where the Wild Things Are (I have it memorized after all these years!), which just so happened to be his favorite book when he was a child. The look of pure wonder and astonishment on his face went straight to my heart, and I knew that something magical had just happened! When I finished reading, he stood up and paced the floor, swinging his arms and exhaling heavily. I asked him if he was ok and he said he was fine, that he had just been taken totally by surprise because he wasn’t expecting to feel that way again. I apologized and said, “Maybe I should have told you what I was about to do,” and he walked up to hug me and replied, “No, Mama, it was perfect just the way it was!” 

I was so impressed with what had happened, I just had to sit down and write a thank you email to Matt and Melissa Hammersley, the founders of Novel Effect. As I choked back tears, I wrote that I know that their children are still very small so they may not realize this yet, but as our children grow up and away from us, there does come a time when they won’t climb into your lap for a snuggle anymore, or need to hold your hand while you cross a street, or ask for us to read their favorite book for the thousandth time, and that they as parents will miss all those things terribly.

I told them that I believe that their app is a gift is to all children everywhere, but specifically, I wanted to thank them for their gift to me, for letting me be just a mom reading her little boy’s favorite book to him one more time.

Matt emailed back that afternoon and thanked me, saying that he’d read my letter to the entire team, and that I’d had seventeen people in Seattle crying, even the college kids!

As a former language arts teacher, I am a strong proponent of reading to kids, anytime, anywhere, no matter their age. When I taught science and social studies, I always found ways to slip a read-aloud in, because they just enjoyed it so much! Even after I got into the technology side of education, I took part in Read Across America Day activities in my district, reading Where the Wild Things Are to junior high students for several years in a row. In fact, after the first year, those students actually requested me as a guest reader because they enjoyed it so immensely!

Since February, I’ve demonstrated Novel Effect to different educator groups several times in Pearland ISD, used it in multiple classrooms with students, and formally presented it to a packed house at the Elementary Technology conference in Galveston this past June. I will again be formally presenting Novel Effect at my district’s GT Training day in September, at the TCCA conference in Aldine ISD in October, and then again at the next TCEA conference in Austin next February! Informally, every time I’m in a bookstore, I go to the children’s section and demonstrate it to any parents who will stand still for even five minutes, and have then shown it to store employees when they come to see what all the excitement is about!

This summer, after purchasing a copy of The Wonky Donkey book as a baby gift for a friend, I suggested to Melody Furze, the Director of Educational Development, that the Novel Effect team create a soundscape for it. Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when she contacted me to ask if I would be willing to take part in the soundscape creation process! Of course, I enthusiastically said, “YES!”

In preparation, I received some instruction via email on what I’d need to do. My role in Ed Tech requires me to travel across the district from campus to campus, so I had some alone time in my car to practice my “yeeeeEEEE-HAW’s” and my “heee-haw’s”. As I live in Texas, I was extremely happy that I have decent AC in my car, because even with the windows up I still got some really strange looks from cars next to me at traffic lights! When I felt as if I’d made some acceptable progress I started using the voice recorder on my phone to capture my efforts.  

Several people at Novel Effect and I had an online video conference to further refine the expectations. Matt Boerner, the Audio Lead and one of the sound effect geniuses at Novel Effect, and Carmela Orsini, their Director of Client Services, video chatted with me one evening. I played them some of my recordings and got some feedback on my efforts. Carmela even told me “You by far are the BEST ‘yee-haw’ I’ve ever heard!” And near the end of our call, Matt Hammersley walked into the room on their end, and I got to chat with him a bit as well! Over the following days, we communicated back and forth via email about which sounds they’d like me to try again with even more gusto, so I’d go upstairs at my house and record more versions of sounds and email them off to Matt B. As he incorporated my sound effects into the soundscape, he’d send me updates so I could hear them before the final version was released. I think my two dogs, Roux and Mardi, officially thought I was nuts, because they heard sounds coming out of me that they’d never heard before! 

Working with the Novel Effect team has been an amazing experience, and it’s definitely one I’d like to repeat in the future! 

I hear Novel Effect is working on a studio tool that will soon let everyone have the pleasure of creating hee-haws of their own. Be sure you follow them on social media to stay up to speed on all these exciting developments.

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Melinda Louvier is an Educational Technology Specialist for Pearland ISD in Pearland, TX. She has twenty-one years of experience in the field of education at multiple grade levels, and has spent the last eleven years as a tech specialist, assisting teachers who want to incorporate technology into their curriculum. Melinda is a 2013 recipient of a Fund For Teachers grant, which allowed her to spend almost three weeks in Peru, where among a plethora of exciting experiences, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of holding a sloth! Since she couldn’t bring the sloth home, she now expends her love of animals on her two dogs, Roux and Mardi.

Summer Is Coming and It’s Going to Be AMAZING!

“How do I keep (insert young person in your life) engaged with reading during the summer and avoid the summer slide?” Do not fear, Storytime Sue is here! Keeping the kiddos engaged is really about keeping reading fun — so here are some of my favorite suntime, funtimes!

Here we are, we finally made it. Grades are submitted, pedi appointment has been secured, and sunglasses are perched atop of head. You’re ready for it: relaxation mode set to “ON” (cue pan flute).

But, if you’re like me, you are also thinking, “How do I keep (insert young person in your life) engaged with reading during the summer and avoid the summer slide?” Maybe the young person is your niece or nephew in Cheybogan. Or the cute twins you signed on to babysit or tutor. Or perhaps you have your own toddler running amuck in your house.

Whatever the case: Do not fear, Storytime Sue is here! Keeping the kiddos engaged is really about keeping reading fun — so here are some of my favorite suntime, funtimes!

  • Make it a Playdate! As a mother and an educator, I’m really digging the community of toddlers and families that I’ve met on the preschool scene. They are the perfect crowd to invite over for an interactive, book-themed play date. This week we’re reading Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (with Novel Effect of course). Then we’ll set the kids loose in a big, ol’ pile of dirt with their diggers, construction equipment, and washable dolls to dig, dig, dig and build, build, build (no permits required). Here are some pretty great, additional activities for the book from the publisher as well.
  • Get Thee to the Library. You know the library is full of good stuff, and many of them have great free programs all summer long that you can participate in. Want to do something a little less structured? Grab that crumpled piece of paper in the bottom of your bag and brainstorm with your kids five or six things they’re interested in learning something new about. Then set them free on a Library Scavenger hunt, scouring the racks for related titles. (Don’t limit yourself to kid books, reference books are full of cool diagrams and information too!)
  • Camping, Camping, Camping It doesn’t even have to be in the wild! It can be in your backyard or your living room. Set up a tent, grab a flashlight, snuggle into a sleeping bag, and read some fun stories. I suggest Bear Snores On or All Aboard, National Parks: A Wildlife Primer (both available with wonderful accompanying soundscapes on the Novel Effect app). Discuss future travel adventures, both real and imagined.

Download Novel Effect for free in the App Store | on Google Play!

Novel Effect’s 2019 Reading List

Here is a list of our recommended titles to read out loud this year! Packed with fun sound effects and lively music from Novel Effect, these popular books are sure to keep your little one engaged for the entire story, whether they are reading themselves or just listening.

Make a resolution to read aloud more and join in on our pursuit to get every child to love reading in 2019!

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Continue reading “Novel Effect’s 2019 Reading List”

Be a Storytime Hero in 2019

Happy New Year Novel Effect-ers!

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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”

Happy Holidays, Novel Effect Educators!

As you are Fa-La-La-ing your way to…V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, we thought you might like to ease some of that countdown-to-holiday-break craziness with titles that explore different seasonal cultures and traditions. Good news, there’s a little elfish-luck in your corner, all the titles below are available in the Novel Effect app!

Continue reading “Happy Holidays, Novel Effect Educators!”

5 Things on Our Fall Wish List this Year

What started as a craving for pumpkin spice has now evolved into a full-on love affair with Fall. The weather, the smells, the flavors – it’s the seasonal equivalent of a giant hug. We didn’t want to miss a single moment of this autumnal love fest, so we compiled a list of our must-do Fall activities for this year.

What started as a craving for pumpkin spice has now evolved into a full-on love affair with Fall. The weather, the smells, the flavors – it’s the seasonal equivalent of a giant hug. We didn’t want to miss a single moment of this autumnal love fest, so we compiled a list of our must-do Fall activities for this year.

  1. Plant a Fall Garden

Why do Spring and Summer get to have all the gardening fun? The Fall weather practically requires you be outdoors, and a Fall garden of colorful gourds is a great way to get kids experimenting with new foods. Tomie de Paola’s “Strega Nona’s Harvest” has some helpful gardening tips and is fun to read together after a day in the dirt.

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  1. Apple Picking

Load up the kiddos, hop in the car, and yee-haw to the closest apple orchard. A family road trip always ends up with one or two new stories to add to the family legacy (keep the TVs and video games off for best results). When you finally arrive, everyone can run around through the rows of trees, play with other families also glad to be out of their car, and enjoy some cider (we’ll let you decide how hard that cider needs to be).

  1. Celebrate Science

November 8th (NOV8 – innovate – get it??) is National STEAM Day, set aside each year to inspire kids to explore interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. The internet is full of STEAM activities you can do as a family, but we suggest these and these. We also highly recommend reading “Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Technology” with Novel Effect – it combines science, tech, and art!

  1. Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

America’s pastime culminates every Fall as the best-of-the-best battle it out during the World Series. Even if your team didn’t make it to the big showdown, pick a team as a family (or take different sides if competition is more your thing) and watch the games together. Learn the cheers, get into the spirit, and have some fun! If you want a story to go with the big game, we recommend “Casey at the Bat” or the newly added “Baseball Saved Us,” which tells the story of how baseball shaped a young boy’s experience in an internment camp during WWII.

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  1. Pumpkin Carving

Of course, pumpkin carving, right? Not very imaginative… or is it?!? Dun, dun, dun! You don’t have to go far down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find some impressive ideas! Find some inspiration and challenge yourselves to try something new for Jack this year.

 

This is our wish list this Fall, but we want to know: what’s on yours? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what your family plans to try this Fall.

First Day Jitters

Whether you’re already a few weeks into the school year or have the first day rapidly approaching, we’ve compiled a list of books that you can read with your children or students to help them process all the emotions running through their little bodies this time of year.

While adorable pictures may be flooding your social media, the back to school time of year evokes different emotions for different people. Teachers may dread it. Parents may celebrate it. And kids…. well, kids probably have lots of big emotions that they aren’t sure how to express just yet, ranging from anxiety to excitement.

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Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

 

Whether you’re already a few weeks into the school year or have the first day rapidly approaching, we’ve compiled a list of books that you can read with your children or students to help them process all the emotions running through their little bodies this time of year.

 

The Invisible String by Patricia Karst

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This story deals directly with the issue of separation anxiety. Remind your little ones with the relaxing music that even if you aren’t there, we are all connected by an invisible thread that unites us all.

 

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Martin

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Through beautiful illustrations and soothing rhythms, this book paints the picture of a parent’s acceptance of their child in all the child’s wonderment, creativity, and aspirations. Reinforce that you support your child at story time to give them an extra boost of confidence on their first day!

 

Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman

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Love, love, love. If a child can count on nothing else in a crazy world of bullies and skinned knees, the one constant is your love for them. The soundscape is dreamy and perfect for bedtime or nap time, helping your kids rest easy.

 

Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle

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Sure, it’s a classic you’ve probably read 8,000 times already, but it’s a great reminder of the value of friendship. The happy sound effects keep story time lively and lends itself to lots of discussion questions about the kids in their class (and which animal friends remind them of their human friends).