Three new IVONA voices have just been released for Text2Go, one of which is the female child voice named Ivy. Once the novelty of listening to a child text to speech voice had worn off, I was left wondering what I could use this voice for? The first thing that came to mind was perhaps a child text to speech voice could be used to read a childrens’ book aloud. To test the theory I set about converting a childrens’ ebook into an audiobook.
The ebook I chose was the popular childrens’ book The Sunflower That Roared by Michelle de Villiers available for free on Smashwords.com. This delightful story is full of beautiful watercolour illustrations. Like all ebooks published through Smashwords, it’s available in multiple formats, including .epub which is supported by Text2Go. If you have Text2Go installed you can just right-click on the link and Text2Go will download it and convert it to an audiobook for you.
I wanted to preserve the illustrations in the ebook and ideally have these displayed at the correct time during the narration of the story. This is possible without too much extra effort. Each chapter in an audiobook can have its own image and during playback it will display the image for the current chapter. By splitting the ebook into chapters and associating the correct illustration with each chapter, it’s possible to cycle through the illustrations as the story is narrated. The easiest way to split an ebook into chapters is to use the ‘Split at Cursor’ command in Text2Go.
The other thing I did before converting the ebook to an audiobook was to slow down the speed of the Ivy voice. This makes it easier for a child to understand and is also more realistic for a child reading out loud. You can change the speed of a voice in Text2Go using the Options page.
The final step is to have Text2Go convert it to an audiobook, transfer it to iTunes and then sync it to your iPhone, iPod or to best appreciate the illustrations an iPad.
You can listen to an except of The Sunflower That Roared.
The ultimate test was to see if it would keep my 4 year old son engaged, so we sat down and listened to the story together. It certainly held his attention for the entire length of the story and at the end he said he’d enjoyed it. It will be interesting to see if he asks to listen to it again.