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“Turn the volume on and open your book”

Listening as a first step towards reading



Logo of the Project, © Claudia de Weck

It is always hard to begin something new, such as reading. The project “Ton ab, Buch auf“ (Turn the volume on, open your books), organised by the Swiss Institute for Child and Youth Media (SIKJM), thus offers pupils aged between ten and twelve years an easy access to reading books. The beginnings of stories are presented in MP3audio format to motivate children to open the respective books and continue reading the stories.

A box of treasures
The SIKJM lends a box to School classes, daycare centres and libraries containing 31 different books, ten MP3 players with headsets, a teacher manual and a logbook. The MP3 players contain a real treasure, i.e. 31 story beginnings – the beginnings of the audio books that are part of the project ”Ton ab, Buch auf“. The respective soundtracks last between five and 15 minutes and they enable children to “get into” a story without investing any effort. Each audio file ends with a cliffhanger. Children are then presented with a further question and informed about the particular page where they can continue to read the story.

Self-determined reading incites an interest in reading
The teacher manual recommends free time slots for conducting the project, which can well be integrated in open lessons or workshops. The project clearly focuses on reading for pleasure, hence the children will be able to listen to different beginnings of stories and decide for themselves which particular book they would like to read. Empirical studies have demonstrated that reading independently in your own time and reading for pleasure can play an important role in lifelong reading. The students should thus remember “Ton ab, Buch auf“ as an individual, positive reading experience. In this context, it is also important that they can access the treasure box at any given time and take the books home with them.

A logbook presents reading experiences to the next class
The project also provides opportunities for subsequent communication. The teachers are invited to discuss the reading experiences with their pupils. Reading as a communal activity can also be inspired by book presentations or by jointly writing a diary. Moreover, the treasure box contains a logbook which children can use to document their experiences, and thus communicate them to the next class that will receive the box: they can write, draw pictures, add photographs, formulate their wishes – there is no limit to their creative imagination.

In 2004, the Pädagogische Hochschule Zurich evaluated “Ton ab, Buch auf“. The team of evaluators found that the concept considerably increased the children’s motivation to read. “Ton ab, Buch auf“ accordingly supports the early readers in becoming keen, active readers.

Project-related materials are provided to the schools, daycare centres or libraries free of charge, for a period of a month or two. Ten treasure boxes are presently available in German-speaking Switzerland.

Francesca Micelli
Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien SIKJM
Zeltweg 11
CH-8032 Zürich, Schweiz
E-Mail: francesca.micelli@sikjm.ch
Internet: See also: Promoting Reading in Switzerland