Read With Our Kids

Busy, so very busy. Wait, the kids are in bed, they want a story, OK OK Just a minute, ZOOM! What book do you want to hear?! Bla bla bla, now go to sleep! You’re not sleepy? Whaaa?

On the go parents, kids with mobile devices, a storytime is last thing on the list, right? Well a 5 minute story-time before bed can help kids sleep, teach them the basics of reading and provide a fun family bonding routine.

First of all, pick your book. Is it serious, or funny, lengthy or short? Is it an old favorite or a new addition? So the first step is be in there when they pick a book. Make that a democratic decision, or you’ll be reading Green Eggs and Ham for 20 minutes. GE&H, a great book, but verbose. You must choose wisely!

Step 2, get your playlist set. 2 books should be 5-10 minutes. As part of the bedtime routine, teeth brushed, teddy bear in place, arrange your audience and set the mood. Dim the lights. Open with a jingle, It’s bedtime for kiddos, comon and get in bed. Make it your theme song. Don’t worry if you don’t have one, it’ll come with practice, i the meantime, use the tune to Gilligan’s Island until your find your selfie shanty.

Step 3, the book itself, glance through it, look at the artwork, is it serious or funny, what is the topic? Figure out which one goes first. Opening act and closer!

Voices: Add characterization to the story. Need a Giant? Do a growly voice. Princess do a falsetto. Hero, sound like a classic rock DJ. Imitate how you picture the characters voices sounding. This is surprisingly fun, and even if your kids roll their eyes, they appreciate the effort. Not just for picture books, but chapter a night as well. Poetry, science fast etc, all various themes that only take a moment at bedtime to brainstorm and get those minds ready to dream.

The book is your prop, not vice versa. The book is your teleprompter, how you read is you. That means you can edit, paraphrase, edit, or act out as you see fit. You don’t need to read verbatim. Feel free to comment on whats happening. Your kids will!

Act out, use finger people, or stand and deliver. But keep in mind your energy level will either get them riled up or downshift. Watch Cesar Millan for his techniques on calm, assertive energy. It works, believe me. You can start high energy, but end a bedtime story on calm energy. Sweet dreams are made of these. And who am I to disagree?

Comments and interruptions. If kids are turning your storytime into an episode of Springer, well it’s time to set some rules. Interruptions are OK, but if it doesn’t naturally cycle back into the story, you’ll have to steer. If their energy is too high, bring them down. Calm down with the 3, 2, 1 thing or a musical ditty. If the book is boring, end it and get something else. If it isn’t boring and you are wrapping up, it may show your kids they need to settle down and listen. It’s OK to tell kids, one voice at a time, unless we are reacting.

Question what you read. Don’t just accept an idea because it is mainstream. Ask your kids did they like it? How did they feel, Happy Sad? Funny, Goofy? Discuss the ideas, or what the author should have done. This shows kids that they can change the world, one idea at a time. For better or for worse! They don’t like the ending, write a better one! In fact, draw one page of your own story, one night at a time. In a month you may have your own, family bedtime book, something they can look back on in decades to come and remember fondly. They’ll remember this better than Dad’s game was ALWAYS ON.

For example, I love you forever. That is a popular book, people say it’s inspirational etc etc. But I and my kids thought it was creepy. The artwork, the overall message, we thought it was strange. It was not bad, it just was not for us? So when I read it, I changed the tone. I made it about a Mom checking to see if her kids were sleeping, I made it goofy and changed the tear jerker ending. I made it that the Mom was now in the loony bin, but now the young dad is starting to do it too! Oh no! I’m not a purist, I don’t stick with the menu. I make my own meals, for better or for worse!! I try not to ruin it, just make it fit in our lifestyle.

Closing. Towards the end of the storytime, start to speak in lower hushed tones. A literary lullaby. Bring your energy level down too, calm down. Relax. If the kids keep asking question set limitations. One more Q, then it’s off to sleep for U! Kids know how to stall by getting you talking, so beware of your own ego! Ha HA!

Routine ideas: Wear a storytime hat, that is only on for that.

Or have a puppet, character or a favorite stuffed animal, as an audience to role play how behavior should be. Teddy listens. Teddy doesn’t like loud noises. Yes, kids see through this so do it in a sarcastic style and show them you know it too. Don’t sell them anything YOU wouldn’t buy! But do let them know, if Teddy gets scared off, so will you, end of evening. Set those limits, stick to them.

Even your Hand in the shape of a duck or llama can be your signature sidekick on your own talk show. Get Mr Potato Head eyes and hold em in your fingers, make a great characterization!

Sound effects. We humans make awesome noises, we have great vocal chords for mimicry. See 12 noises you already make for tips!!

Make up a story? Make it a family story. Make your kids the stars and teach them a moral you believe in. make it whimsical and silly, it doesn’t have to make sense, it needs to simply be you. No storytelling classes or PHDs are going to teach you how to be you. If you are a parent, you already know who you are. If you get stuck for ideas, ask your kids for one. They’ll help you. This is an imagination exercise.

Most of all have fun. If the kids see you having fun, being yourself, they will too. If they are too cool, find a subject they want to hear about and go that way. Storytime isn’t about books, it’s about families coming together to speak and be heard, explore ideas and be together.

And you can do it during the freakin’ commercial breaks of Shark Tank. Commercial breaks= 8 minutes, you can spare that, right? Be the commercial!

Ok I’m done.

Sound Coach!

How to make your own storytime sound effects.

Intended for children’s librarians, teachers, educators and storytellers. 60-90 minute activity workshop & slideshow with handouts provided.

Sound Coach is also a story show off the shelves of Charlie’s imagination.

Outline and Program Description:

sound coachweb


.Charlie Williams is your Sound Coach, here to get your larynxes into shape with some vocal aerobics. He provides education for librarians and other storytellers who would like to increase their audience attention and captivate them with the spoken word or a well placed “Boing.”

Real, live, language arts!

In this hands-on, tongue in cheek workshop, participants will learn the basics of making sounds for story times and other presentations. He will teach how to make noises of animals, machines, music and vehicles. The audience will learn about thematic values such as ambiance sounds and also how to vary your voices to enhance any public presentation. Start a spooky story with a squeaky door! Read “I Stink” with realistic garbage truck sounds! From chirps to explosions. From chainsaws to roars. We will learn an easy step-by-step procedure for imitating everyday sounds.

  • Learn 12 noises you already know how to make!
  • See the history of sound in comic books and movies!
  • Be instructed on how to take care of your throat before and after your storytimes!
  • Practice voice warm-ups and strengthening techniques!
  • Participate in a whistling workshop!

Topics also include onomatopoeia in reading, writing and speech. Idea development, journal writing, practice spots and evil pranks. We will focus on listening to the world around you and imitating it.

….OK, it’s also good “end of the conference” comic relief.

AV requirements: LCD projector and screen.

(He’ll bring his own laptop for the powerpoint presentation. (don’t panic, it’s not boring.))

He can present with or without a mic depending on audience size.

He has a nice sound system of his own, but if he is flying in, you’ll have to provide one.

No clip on mics, please! The slobber shorts them out!

Where has he done this?

Wyoming Library Association, Casper, WY 1996

North Dakota Library Association, Bismarck, ND 1997 (Beat that Eric,)

Mountain Plains Library Association, Big Sky, MT 1999

South Carolina Library Association, Charleston, SC 1999

Hawaii Library Association, Maui, HI 2001

Arizona Library Association, Phoenix, AZ 2002

WALE Conference, Lake Chelan, WA 2005

WLA/OLA Joint Conference, Vancouver, WA 2007

Allegheny County Sound Coach workshop, Munhall, PA 2010

PD Eastern Shore Regional Library System, MD, 2012

(Not to mention the reading conferences, and in-school service days!)

Meet Mic!

Charlie_251Title: Meet Mic!

How to use a microphone.

Intended for children’s librarians, teachers, educators and storytellers.

45 minute workshop & humorous instructional.

Outline and Program Description:

A mic is simply a speaking tool. It is AMPLIFIED SOUND. (emphasis added) But a lot of folk have a phobia about using it, so this workshop dispells the fear through educational familiarity. We will see examples of what not to do, then learn techniques for proper use in public speaking. We’ll deal with feedback, learn how a mic works and see which type of mics work for different venues. There’s different ways to hold a mic, gangsta, rock star, presenter, presidential, etc. We’ll even cover the most confusing and intimidating device on the planet: A MIC STAND!

(Note: Knowing how to use a mic helps overcome stage fright.)

(Mainly because you can now overpower the audience! Mwa ha ha!)

Speaker Bio


Charlie Williams is better known as ‘The Noiseguy’ to thousands of children across the country.  He is a vocal sound impressionist who can imitate the sound of planes, trains, automobiles and much, much more! This talented performer is also a kids’ comedian, author, illustrator and onomatopoet.  A former children’s librarian, Williams travels the country introducing noise into all his stories.  He encourages even the most reluctant reader to make noise when they’re reading!

Just exactly what does he do?  Williams doesn’t just say the words ‘Crash’, ‘Boom’ or ‘Growl’, when he’s telling a story.  He imitates the sound.  Charlie uses onomatopoeia – a vocal imitation of an actual word.  Children and parents alike are enthralled by his delivery.

Williams has been featured in the Seattle Times as well as having appearances on Evening Magazine, NPR, Fox 13, KOMO 4 and other media across the country.  His book and antics have been hailed by noteworthy authors, Margaret Read MacDonald, Nancy Pearl and Jim TreleaseGene Ambaum, writer of the popular comic strip, ‘Unshelved’, says he and his family have been laughing at Charlie’s shows for years!

While education is no laughing matter, The Noiseguy encourages kids to laugh at everyday annoyances because humor is an important life skill.  He believes “the family that makes noise together is a family that enjoys together”.  He also brings his message as an educational component to librarians and storytellers as a way to increase audience participation and satisfaction.  No matter the age of his audience, everyone walks away having learned how to enhance story telling.

Comfortable with an international audience, he has also successfully toured Australia twice in the last couple of years.  His presentations at conferences, libraries, book stores, schools and comedy clubs span over 20 years.  He was most recently sought out by WaterAid America (affiliate of WaterAid International), in which he donated the creation of an online comic book to promote good hygiene and sanitation among children.

Williams’ first book, Flush! An Ode to Toilets is a fun picture book about the sound of a variety of toilets.  The comic illustrations depict high-tech toilets, airplane toilets, supermarket toilets and more.  You won’t be able to read it without a giggle or two (or three).  Incidentally, this book was featured on the new technology, Surface, by the Microsoft Corporation. (Which is now an antique at 2 years ago)

Charlie Williams resides near Seattle, Washington. He’s worked as a DJ, a cartoonist, a children’s librarian and a dishwasher.  A funny dishwasher.  Williams’ newest CD, Sugar Frosted Noisy Tales is – ‘Naturally sweetened kids stories’! Ingredients include crazy kid comedy, parody, imagination, silliness and …it’s also a little goofy.


new noiseguy logo



Presenter/Children’s Entertainer:

  • Library presentations include the following Library Systems: KingCounty, Sno-Isle, Fairfax Regional, Seattle Public, Bluebonnet Regional, PierceCounty and many others across the country and in Australia.
  • Book store and museum presentations include: Third Place Books, Village Books, Whatcom Children’s Museum, Museum of History and Industry and others.
  • Conferences include: Michigan Library Association, Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association, Washington Association of Library Employees (WALE), Young Authors, Oregon Library Association (OLA) and Washington Library Association (WLA) – 2008 joint conference and more.
  • Schools and other venues include: SeattleCenter, Puyallup Fair, Stanwood-Camano Fair, Family Fun Nights, Elementary, Middle and High School audiences and the list goes on.

Author and Illustrator:

  • KCLS Summer Reading promotional videos – wrote and produced storyboards and video, 2004-present.
  • Animated movie, “The Adventures of Super Toilet” for WaterAid America, 2008.
  • Published Pbbfflliitt! in Storytelling magazine, Sep/Oct 2007.
  • Published ‘Flush! An Ode to Toilets’ – written and illustrated, 2006.
  • Wrote and illustrated “Lewis and Clark, Up a Creek”.
  • Self published 2 books of political cartoons based on the strip, “Don’t Feed the Vultures” and “No Services”.
  • Cartoonist and creator of daily comic strip, Big Butte Junction for Star Tribune Daily Times WY, 1995-1999.
  • Fish Out of Water (created for St. LouisSchool District unit on conservation).
  • Jen Shipman Productions, ‘Inbetweener Animations’ for St Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals, 1985.

Comedian/Sound specialist:

  • CDs: ‘Noisy Tales’, ‘Seasoned Greetings’, ‘Sugar Frosted Noisy Tales’.
  • Sound effects on award-winning Zucker Brothers, webtoon series, “It’s JerryTime”, episode – The Gobbler.
  • KHTR Radio morning show sound segments.
  • Weekly Saturday Story Show – KIQZ, WY.
  • Half Wits Comedy Revue (Channel 44), St. Petersburg.
  • NPR story show “Pelican Shack”, Pensacola, FL.
  • Florida State Theater.
  • Various comedy clubs in MO, KS, KY, IL, GA, FL, AL.
  • Various sound effects for radio ads Olympia Broadcast Company, MO.
  • AtchafalayaSwampMuseumWelcomeCenter (voice and sounds of animatronics stork and Gator).
  • Vocal Foley for cartoon short “Shutterbug”.
  • Sound effects for Sound Dunes Studio (AZ) video game sound catalog.
  • Eglin AFB (Jet sounds for demo presentation).
  • New Orleans Home and Garden show, 2004-2005.
  • Coconuts Comedy Club (Florida), 1990-91.
  • Funnybone Comedy Club and Funnybone on Tour (Missouri), 1988-1991.
  • Amoco Commercial car sounds, 1988.

Other significant work:

  • Kids’ Performer, 1997-present.
  • Featured quotes in article, Comic Relief, Parents Magazine, October 2009.
  • Guest reader on the Dewey and Sketch (Snapdragon Puppets) dvd series, 2008.
  • Wyoming Public Libraries Children’s librarian, 1995-1999.
  • Sound Safari Theater, founded 1995.
  • Touch Tone Tales, Dial-in Story Program, used by library systems and schools.