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Step 5. Plan and Practise

Previously: 4. Find Your Book

This step, along with the next two, are probably going to be the bulk of your work: the good news (the great news!) is that if you go through all of this once, it will take you a fraction of the time for any subsequent recordings. You will have a lot of skills under your belt!

Complete a Book Recording Plan

Creating a book recording plan will help you plan your reading so it can be the best it can be. A plan will help you organize what you will say, and when, and gather everything you need before you start.

Please note that you do not need to submit your Book Recording Plan to NNELS: it's just there to help you be organized.

In general, we identify sections and then read what’s in the book. Here are some common parts of children’s books, and their official names:

  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Epigraph (that standalone quote before the book begins)
  • About the Author
  • Publishing Information (includes publisher and copyright information)

More information for curious bibliophiles: parts of a book. If you’re not sure about a part, please ask a librarian or email NNELS Support.

What to read and what not to read

Page numbers

Do not read page numbers for children's books. In general, we only read page numbers for non-fiction works.

Page turning

A child with dyslexia might have the book in hand and be able to follow along with the story, and might be happy to have an indication to know when to turn the page.

A child who's blind or unable to turn the pages of the book won't find the page sounds helpful.

We leave the choice up to you unless we receive specific requests from readers.

If you want to leave out the sound of pages turning, you can press pause on your recording as you turn each page. If you choose this approach, you will likely need to edit out the sound of mouse or keyboard clicking every time you press pause.

Image descriptions

If you chose a book in which the illustrations drive at least part of the narrative, you need to plan for image descriptions. Please read the entire story carefully to determine if description is necessary.

If the book does not require image descriptions for the listener to understand and enjoy the story, you can choose to create them if you wish, or leave them out. For simplicity's sake, most volunteers choose books that do not require image descriptions.

How to write image descriptions:

  • Introduce an image description with the words, "In the illustration,…." so that listeners know that your description is not part of the story.
  • Be succinct: only describe what's important to the story (e.g. only describe colour if the colour matters).
  • Try to describe what you see rather than emotions or intentions.
  • Remember your audience: avoid language more complex than that which is already in the book.

Here are examples of books and a discussion of image descriptions (click on images to see larger versions):

From How To, by Julie Morstad: You could read, "how to wash your socks. In the illustration, four children are walking and dancing around in a puddle with their socks on but no shoes or boots." Every page in this book requires a description of the image, so if you were to record this book you would need to integrate the image descriptions into your narration.

From Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman: In this story, there is a parallel story told in the illustrations along the bottom of the pages: the mice are using scraps of cloth to make their own clothes. Because the story does not depend on these illustrations, and the story continues from one page to the next, it's probably best to stay away from describing the mouse story unless you do it carefully and without breaking up the main story.

From Storm Boy, by Owen Paul Lewis: In this book, these are the only images that need a description. In this case, you could read, "As he did, the boy felt a great surge beneath him, as if he were being carried upward at greater and greater speed. He kept his eyes closed and held on tight. In the illustration, the boy is straddling a big orca, and his arms are wrapped tightly around that orca's dorsal fin."

If you're not sure what to do, please post a photo to the forums. :)

For more information about image descriptions, the Diagram Centre offers great resources.


If you've chosen a book with words in an unfamiliar language, particularly an Indigenous one, please check with someone who speaks that language to ensure you pronounce the words properly.

Do you know of online pronunciation dictionaries in other languages? Please contact so we can add them here.

Next up: Step 6. Recording and Editing with Audacity

public/nnels/recording/5_plan_and_practise.txt · Last modified: 2018/09/03 19:37 by sabina.iseli-otto