Back to Something….

It’s a time for renewal, for starting over and getting to know a new class of wonderful students, making new friends and celebrating a new chapter of teacherdom. At Novel Effect, we’ve been there. We know that you want something new to spice up the ol’ lesson plans.

Teachers cringe, librarians prepare, and parents rejoice!

Teachers, here’s something you might not want to hear, seriously, cover your ears, shut off the lights, pull down the shades (dun, dun, dun)…

It’s BACK TO SCHOOL (cue terrifying music and lightning flashes!)


It’s not all terrifying though. It’s a time for renewal, for starting over and getting to know a new class of wonderful students, making new friends and celebrating a new chapter of teacherdom.

At Novel Effect, we’ve been there. We know that you want something new to spice up the ol’ lesson plans. Dust off those favorite books. Pair our awesome soundscape for “Giraffes Can’t Dance” with a music and movement activity. You’re all getting to know each other so it’d be fun to start with a book about the importance of being yourself. With our soundscape you can teach children different genres of music and then break into a movement activity.

Better yet read Oliver Jeffer’s fantastic “The Way Back Home” which coincides with the back-to-school theme of leaving home and making friends. Here are some great ideas for activities. Then, spend the time you were going to come up with accompanying activities enjoying one last summer evening cocktail instead.


It’s a myth that librarians spend their entire summer reading hundreds of books. They actually read thousands! I jest, but librarians love a good story and the beginning of the year means setting up your space to encourage reading and interaction. Here is an adorable Mo Williams display for the library or classroom. Read “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” with our soundscape to address some of those bus ride anxieties and then have a pigeon noise contest!

While teachers and librarians might be scrambling to get ready, parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Put those babies on the bus, brew a cup of tea, throw on some Netflix and just enjoy all that peace and quiet….until school calls because Joey’s got a fever. Read him “Alexander and the Horrible No Good Very Bad Day,” with Novel Effect (one of my favorites) and then drink this tomorrow instead of tea.

No matter what your role, reading stories is probably a big part of what you do. We want to thank you for helping our littlest learners become book lovers now and the whole year through!


3 Fun Activities for Community Story Times

Between the heat and vacation, we know the challenges of coming up with new ideas to add interactivity into routine story times. This blog, we’re focusing a bit on resources for community storytellers.

Greetings Story Tellers!

At Novel Effect we’ve been having fun at our local libraries and bookstores reading stories with our app and doing activities with little readers from Seattle to Charleston. Between the heat and vacation, we know the challenges of coming up with new ideas to add interactivity into routine story times.

Teacher At Montessori School Reading To Children At Story Time

This blog, we’re focusing a bit on resources for community storytellers. These special story times can take place in community centers, at libraries and parks, in the children’s section of your favorite local bookstore, or wherever you find a group of children who are willing to listen and ready to have fun.

With Novel Effect, all you need is a device and a blue-tooth speaker (if you have a bigger group) and you instantly have an immersive story time that will keep kids focused and attentive. But, what are some other ways to get the children involved and interacting with the story? Here are 3 suggestions we’ve come up with at our events (all the books, of course, have soundscapes in the Novel Effect app). Try them at your next story time and see your story time crowds grow and grow.


1. Everybody dance now!


Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance is an adorable excuse to dance some sillies out and learn animal sounds. Let everyone pick a plastic animal (or picture) from a bucket. Gather the group in a circle and read the story once with Novel Effect. On the 2nd reading everyone stands up and dances to their parts in time with the music. It’s sure to be a baa, moo and a cock-a-doodle-doo, hoedown!


2. Bon appetit!


Mouse and Minka share quite a few summer treats in Mouse’s First Summer by Laurent Thompson. Why not increase the flavor (sorry, wince) with some treats from the story? Serve sweet lemonade, watermelon and have children make their own PB&Js just like those adorable mice siblings.


3. Near, far, wherever you are!


In “Duck and Goose Go to the Beach,” Duck and Goose are not quite on the same page about a summer excursion. After reading this story use this element as a springboard to discuss distant versus near places children might visit (or already have this summer). Then you can have the children draw two pictures: one of a nearby place to visit and one of a faraway place to visit.


What have you done at your story time events to keep families returning? Share your ideas be tweeting us @Novel_Effect!

And, as always Happy Reading!

Summer Reading Fun and Adventures

While research shows the “Summer Slide” can cause the kiddos to lose some of what they learned the previous school year, there’s plenty of fun ways to incorporate the brain-boosting activity of reading into a summer of adventure!

Here are some of our suggestions, inspired by items in the Novel Effect library:

Summer is a great time to explore and try something new. Whether it’s a new beach, a new park, or a new camp, the break from the daily grind of school allows young minds to make all sorts of discoveries.


Research shows the “Summer Slide” can cause the kiddos to lose some of what they learned the previous school year, but ask any child and they’ll tell you that summer is all about adventure and trying new things! There are plenty of fun ways to incorporate the brain-boosting activity of reading into your summertime fun! Our team shared their favorite summer soundscapes and the ways they inspire their own families to spend some hot sunny days with their nose in a book!

Here are some of our suggestions, inspired by titles you can find in the Novel Effect library:

1. “Make a Joyful Noise”


Make your own joyful noises! “Make a Joyful Noise” is a short poem you can read using the free e-book right in the app. Open the poem, tap ‘read book,’ and then tap ‘open free ebook’ to read together as a family. When you’ve finished, encourage your children to use their imaginations to write their own poem and make their own music and sound effects. Take a video and tag us (@Novel_Effect) – we love showcasing your creativity!


2. Fight the Monday Blues


We love featuring independent, self-published authors and small publishers to help you expand your bookshelves at home. Books like Alycat and the Monday Blues offer unique characters and stories your children probably haven’t read before. Keep reading fresh by trying one of these new titles. You can connect with the authors like Alyson Foti Borque and let the author (and your friends) Then, hop on social media and let the author, and your friends, know how much you loved their work!


3. Scavenger Hunt All the World


Use the books you’re reading as an inspiration to discovery by using your favorite books as the framework for a scavenger hunt! Hello Baby has lots of animals that you can search for at the zoo. “A Marching Band of Vitamins” is a another free ebook that highlights fruits and vegetables you’d find at a farmer’s market. All the World lists items you can find in a variety of locations that range from a beach to your family gatherings or home kitchen. Engaging with the words of the story and the sounds from Novel Effect soundscape in this deep way increases understanding and gives you an excuse to both read and explore more!


We love hearing your ideas for how you’re keeping your children’s brains active this summer. Head on over to our Facebook Page to join the conversation with other parents who love reading with their kids!

Books to Read This Earth Day

Earth Day is this weekend! Depending on where you are, you may be stuck inside watching another beautiful snow storm or out enjoying a hike to celebrate. Whatever you do, be sure to add in some story time! We’ve got some suggestions on books to get you in the Earth Day spirit:


I Stink by Kate & Jim McMullan
All the things we use create waste. Find out about all the hard work garbage trucks do in “I Stink” and then try to find one thing you can do to reduce the work garbage trucks have to do to keep our cities clean.


A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Robinowitz
Helping animals can be incredibly rewarding, as the young boy in “A Boy and a Jaguar” discovers. Overcoming his stutter, he finds a way to use his passion to protect his favorite animals. Start a conversation with your little ones to find out what their passions are!


Miss Rumphius by Barbara Conney
Plants do more than provide oxygen for us to breathe. They also make the world a beautiful place! Join Miss Rumphius on her world-beautification project and plant your own favorite plants as a family.


The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson
Yes, this planet is pretty stellar. But….the MOON! The moon is quite awesome as well. You can read Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem about Earth’s favorite little sister with the free ebook provided in the Novel Effect app!


The Earth Book by Todd Parr
Here’s a whole book devoted to our home planet! It’s full of great ideas and simple ways that even the littlest of humans can chip in and make the world a greener, better place.


The best way to celebrate Earth Day is to make EVERY day Earth Day! We hope some of these books (and one poem) on the Novel Effect app inspire your family to find little ways every day to make our shared home the best it can be.

Bedtime Stories for Read Across America Day

Every year, on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, parents, teachers, librarians, kids, and lovers of children’s books celebrate all things reading! We here at Novel Effect enjoyed the day, literally reading across America (in classrooms from Washington state to South Carolina) volunteering and sharing our magical story time experience.

After a busy day of fun reading experiences, we thought we would share some of our favorite bedtime stories so you can keep the celebration going right up to the point the sandman arrives.



Harold is the perfect story to unwind to after a day full of imagination. Harold himself uses his purple crayon to draw out his own adventures before falling asleep in his bed, crayon (almost) in hand. I particularly love the dragon roars and the boat scene in the middle of the book – the music and sound effects are spot on!


DREAM ANIMALS by Emily Winfield Martin

The whimsical and nostalgic imagery of “Dream Animals” beautifully demonstrates the power of books and how they can help children develop their imaginations. Plus, there are some great, unexpected character voices that really set the mood of the story.




Gentle rhymes and gentle music help prepare busy minds and busy construction sites off to sleep for the day. After a day full of busy hands and fun activities, this is the perfect story to help unwind the chaos and get settled in for bed.



Ok, so this isn’t a bed time store, per se! But we couldn’t have a list for Read Across America Day and NOT have a book from the birthday boy himself. Plus, dreams are where…well…dreams are born. Why not send your child off to sleep with visions of all the things the places they can!

Books to Celebrate with in February

Looking for the perfect book to pair with all the February holidays? Then look no further!

Despite being the shortest month of the year, February is packed full of reasons to celebrate. From month-long tributes, to candy-worthy days of glee, to major sporting events, we’ve got a book to join you and your little one no matter what the celebration might be. Here’s our suggested pairings:


For Black History Month (All Month Long)

We suggest: Emmanuel’s Dream


Share with your child this incredible, true story about a man with a disability who rides his bike 400 miles to prove that dreams can become a reality.


For the Super Bowl (and the aftermath of no more football season) (Feb. 4th and after)

We suggest: Goodnight Football


Sharing hobbies is a great way to build family time and bonding. This is the perfect night time story to keep football, and those family memories, around all year long.


For Mardi Gras (Feb. 13th)

We suggest: What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night


Everyone needs to let their hair down and celebrate on occasion, even toys. What sort of mischief will be unleashed this time?


For Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14th)

We suggest: I Love You Through and Through


Incredibly sweet and very relatable for young kids, this rhyming story is a great one to snuggle up with on the day celebrating all kinds of love.


For President’s Day (Feb. 19th)

We suggest: Grace for President


Use this very colorful, fun, and accessible book to teach kids about politics, public service, and the electoral college during presidential elections.


For Tell a Fairy Tale Day (Feb. 26th)

We suggest: Zen Shorts


Stillwater the giant panda loves to tell a good story that always helps his young neighbors learn important lessons.


Tell us what books you celebrated with this month! Join the conversation on social media or email us at


Tips for Teachers to Survive and Thrive this Winter

Even though the new year and new term are just barely upon us, it’s hard not to already be thinking about summer break! But hang in there for a few more months. We have some titles and activities to get you through the winter months right on into spring!

It might feel like we’re stuck inside but we can get “outdoors” at story time with the Ezra Jack Keats classic “The Snowy Day.” Get everyone excited about the potential of a snow day. Maybe the teachers and the kids have a touch of cabin fever? Get out of the classroom and pair that aquarium field trip with “Rainbow Fish”.  Let our soundscape for the best-loved tale of friendship accompany your story and all of its shimmery sweetness.

There are, of course, a lot of great activities for Valentine’s that go beyond making a mailbox out of a paper bag and passing out Minion themed cards. Here are some toddler activities that could be easily adapted for higher grades as well. One of my personal favorites is to make seed cards to exchange or as a personalized activity, and then you can plant them in preparation for spring classroom gardens. And don’t forget to keep an eye on your Novel Effect app to see some of the Valentine’s Day and Spring titles we’ve got coming your way!

If fish aren’t your thing, or you already can’t stand the thought of one more tiny heart-shaped box of bad chocolate,  then let’s focus on another great February theme with “Grace for President.” Here are some pretty cool comprehension questions and discussion prompts  from the good folks at Rutgers University. We really appreciate this book and the wonderful message it has for women big and small.

Have ideas on how you’re using Novel Effect in your classroom? Let us know here! Happy Reading!


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:

Novel Effect Goes to Shark Tank!


The entire Novel Effect team is excited to share that we’ll be featured on Season 9 episode 6 of ABC’s Emmy-Award winning show, Shark Tank at 9|8c October 29th. Storytime with Novel Effect is sure to make a splash!

We launched Novel Effect just over two years ago, to help every parent unlock the magic hidden between the pages of a favorite book. This summer, co-founders Matt and Melissa Hammersley had the chance to pitch our family focused, voice interactive reading app to the Sharks, including guest Shark and founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely. Continue reading “Novel Effect Goes to Shark Tank!”