Storytime: Where the Wild Things Are

Uncle Matt Reads His Favorites, 2004 edition In 2004, I started a fun project as a way of making a very personal Christmas gift for my niece. At the time, my sister and her fledgling family lived in Paris, so we didn’t even have the opportunity to meet our niece until she was several months old. Because of this, I knew that I would miss getting to sit and read her her favorite books—something I was thoroughly enjoying with Sara’s (now also my) nieces—so I decided I would record myself reading some of my favorite stories, and give her the books and a nicely packaged CD for Christmas. With plenty of pictures of me to look at, and the soothing sounds of my voice reading great stories, I hoped my niece would think of me often, and fondly.

The first CD really was mostly a bunch of my favorite stories, plus Mr. Brown Can Moo and The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It was also my first attempt at doing any kind of serious audio production on the computer. I was using a cheap headset mic, and I had to do quite a bit of noise removal, and actually ended up removing all of my really obvious breath noises by hand. Add in some chimes to indicate a page turn, and that was pretty much it.

When I gave it to her at Christmas she loved the pictures of me, and loved the books, but didn’t really know what to think of the CD. She figured it out soon enough, and ended up really loving it. In fact, this CD and the subsequent ones have been so successful, that apparently now Emma and her brothers will give my sis a very hard way to go if they forget to bring “Uncle Matthew” along on long car rides. Success!

I’ve had a few people suggesting and requesting that I put these recordings online, so that’s just what I’m going to do. Here is my favorite reading from that very first CD.

Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are was always one of my absolute favorites as a kid. It was stylistically distinctive, and the story was engaging and personal. What kid can’t identify with Max, who found a world of wonder that he could control, but finally realized that it’s no fun being somewhere without people who love you. I’m not sure how much subtext my young mind gleaned from this book, but I was always touched by the warm dinner that was waiting for him at home–it said to me that, even when you’re bad, even when you’re being punished, your mother still loves you, and I think that’s a very important thing for a kid to understand.

This was my first reading, and my niece was just over a year old, so I was reading very slowly and deliberately, trying hard to enunciate clearly. Listening to it again, I think perhaps the page-turn chimes were a bit hurried, but it seems to have all worked out ok. You can let me know what you think in the comments.

P.S. My audio items will be also be published as a podcast, and should appear as such within the regular subscription feed, but you may subscribe to the “Podcast Only” feed if you prefer.

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7 Responses

  1. This is one of the coolest ideas ever!!!

  2. matt says:

    Thanks! It’s been fun, and Emma has loved them, so it’s totally worth it. ;)

  3. Hunter Dixon says:

    Matt, you have about a thousand great ideas a day.

  4. matt says:

    I would say “I wish,” but I’m filled with dread at the thought of having that many more unfulfilled ideas! yeesh.

    I do appreciate the sentiment, however.

    Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it was my lovely wife who planted the seed of the idea.

  5. Sussann Lovett says:

    That’s just about the neatest idea I’ve ever heard/read. What a great uncle you are!

  6. Matthew, I’m afraid they’re right about the good ideas. You and me both buddy. The problem is that with both of us, we promptly forget the 999 that we had while taking our morning shower before the drops of water have dried.

    This is absolutely the world’s most splendid idea and I’m so proud of you that you thought of it. I love all the stories myself and only wish that we listened to them on a regular basis, rather than mostly on car trips these days.

    Love you so much!!!!

  7. matt says:

    Well, this is the year of the chapter books, since you said she was leaning in that direction now… no more picture books. :-(

    What chapter book character is she interested in? And, if you can think of it, can you email a list of what she already owns?

    Love ya, sis!