Hi everyone, long time no see. With the iBook, Kindle, and other forms of media that have enabled us to read our favorite books. There is one section that has fallen by the waste side lately, and that was the children’s picture book with read along cassette tape and the “Press and Read-along” book. Have they become obsolete, or have they evolved into an another updated form of media reading while still retaining the same charm they had over many years ago?
Lets discuss and find out shall we?
Today, we take a look at…
The Storybook and Tape
Different from an audiobook, the Talking Storybook, basically was a standard Children’s Picture Book that would come with a cassette tape. On it, a man or woman (mostly a woman from the ones I have received) would read the story complete with background music, sound effects, and a signal that would tell the kid to read the page in the form of a chiming bell-like sound. The ones based around Disney movies would say it was Tinkle bell, but once you saw that other non-Disney books had the same bell signal you picked on it wasn’t really.
The books were specially packaged in a plastic bag or case, as to not damage the tape. You put the tape in and the person read the story as you read along in the book. Here we have a Sesame Street brand version involving a story of Big Bird
This was mostly a generic form of reading entering the media age, long before the use of Kindles or iBooks but along the same path as an audiobook. So companies that focused on Children’s Entertainment took a lot of advantage of these.
Knowing Disney, it was no stranger to taking advantage of any marketing tactic to further its promotional movies and so you may remember some of them coming in these story and tapes with the pink borders. Down below.
Mine personally was a “Bambi” story I had gotten one time for Easter, back then whenever a movie came out, the summary of the movie would be simplified into a Children’s Picture Book form and then a person would still read the story, but instead of saying the lines the characters would say, quotes from the movie that fit the scene would be added. For example, was one my brother used to have that was a “Star Wars” Return of the Jedi Storybook and Tape. With the signal being R2-D2’s cute little beeping sounds to let you know when to turn the page. Actual lines and dialogues would be heard by the actors playing them. They sometimes mentioned it a bit in the corner of the book as a further gimmick to you interested in buying it. But it worked. Not to mention the movie’s soundtrack would take the place of generic whimsical children’s music that would be played over any other storybook and tape.
Very very early versions of these would have vinyl records instead of tapes.
Now the use of these storybook and tapes was they provided an easier way for the child-reader to read along with the story at hand. Most commonly in the form as a mode of time-killing entertainment upon very long road trips and family vacations, when reading in the car over bumpy roads proved to be quite distracting and difficult. Also, it helped guide the child to read along with the book if they’re occasional reading comprehension and speed were not quite there, allowing the child to get into the practice of reading left to right but still able to read the story and understand what is going on as they follow along.
For that reason it was quite beneficial to young children as well as those whose parents traveled a lot on the occasional road trip, also, for older children with good reading comprehension and literacy, you could live with or without either the book or the tape, as you could just read the book as is without the tape, or if you lost the book, the tape itself would provide just as a good basis for a kid’s first time audio book.
Since cassette tapes are not as readily used today as they were twenty years ago, not many are seen or marketed in mainstream stores as you would think. Most of them sell on ebay for a good price but as far as any newer versions out there you would be hard pressed to find. As Kindle and iBooks have taken over that market for children’s stories, but there have been forms in what is called a “Speak and Read” book, brought out mostly as holiday and special occasions where a person will speak into the recording microphone attached within the book and read the story as they go, provided a convenient way for a long-distance relative or parent to be a surrogate bedtime reader for the child, as they read along hearing the person’s voice as if they were right reading them the story in person. Mostly marketed for grandparents when buying gifts their toddler-infant grandchild.
The Press and Read Along Book
These books are a more earlier version of the recording books mentioned at the end of the first segment above, more computerized and just more buttons to press to fill in the actions of the story. How it works is that you follow the story along and in place of an action, word, person, or thing will be a symbol that matches the button on side. When you come upon that picture you press the symbol and it makes noise.
Well, sort of, one of the things that even the books have mentioned themselves in their own “meta” way is because of the recording sometimes what sounds like the object may sound disjointed or altered.
Most issues you can into these kind of books were if used constantly you had to replace the batteries. They were as useful in re-readability as long as the child is within that reading level and once they evolve beyond that and go to more challenging, complex reading comprehension that was pretty much it.
Nowadays, the concept of the book is the same, just the style and size layout is different. More colorful, shapely buttons, and even sound clearer sharper sound as technology has improved.
You will find these in most bookstores or places where they carry children’s books. And they make good gifts for children at a very early stage in reading.