Do Books Need to Make Noise?

Josie Leavitt -- June 16th, 2014

There are certain books that make booksellers go a little bonkers. Often these crazy-making books are the ones that come with sound chips.

Who thought “Oh, hey, reading’s a quiet activity that can be shared with a child on your lap, let’s make it less about time together and more about NOISE?” Sure, books with sound chips make it easier for children to enjoy without a parent around, but as technology gets better, the chips get louder and the batteries seem to last forever. I recently ordered two potty training books (one for boys and one for girls) and they came with a sound chip of applause – lots of lots of applause and whooping and hollering. These books were faced-out (seems like every toddler is being toilet-trained this month) and they got a lot of attention. Am I missing something here? Why would reading a book about potty training need an applause track?  Unless the book is being read in the bathroom by the toddler then, really, why?  And even then, why?

The problem with noisy books is, as the bookseller who has them knows, you can’t then complain about a child getting a full-on standing ovation for 15 minutes playing with the book. Of course kids like the novelty of noisy books, but their appeal wears thin after just a few minutes to adult ears. If the clapping and whooping it up of the potty book weren’t bad enough, the truck books with the incessant back-up beeping noise is enough to make you homicidal. There’s always the one page that gets played over and over again.

All books with sound chips come with the plastic tab in the back to prevent the chip from going off until the book is taken home. I swear that kids, even newborns, today are smart enough to have figured out that the tab needs to go before the joy of the book can be savored. It’s easy to get that tab out, but for some reason, it’s really hard to put it back in. Very clever. And some days there are little tabs everywhere in the store. And here’s the thing: parents don’t like noisy books because they can’t take the noise either. I’ve often had aunts and uncles not buy books with sound chips “…because my sister will kill me.”  So, why do these books continue to get made?

Lastly, it’s one thing to have two seconds of a noise when a certain page gets turned, but to have a full 10 seconds of noise is practically unbearable. I know 10 doesn’t sound like a long time, but count to 10 right now. Do it again and now imagine a concert hall of applause. Repeat this until you’ve lost your mind.

 

 

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