Sound may be one of the more captivating, moving, and dynamic stimuli. A certain song can instantly bring you back to a special moment in your life. A specific sound can make you calm or alert. A soundtrack can heighten the emotions and ambience of a film. I’m a big fan of the composer Hans Zimmer, who has scored many movies. When listening to his scores, I can create a crystal clear mental picture of the movie scenes while also experiencing the mystery or suspense of those sequences. I discovered an online service that uses the power of sound and music to create an immersive, engaging, and creative reading and writing experience. It’s called Booktrack Classroom.
Booktrack Classroom is an online service for teachers and students. It provides a library of e-books that contains soundtracks and sound effects to amplify the reading experience. As you read, the score, ambient sounds, and sound effects perfectly complement what is happening on the page. I found it absolutely immersive as the sound sparked my imagination to better visualize and experience the story. Booktrack has smart technology that automatically adjusts the score and sound effects to adapt to your reading pace, but you can also manually increase or decrease the reading speed to ensure the sound seamlessly matches the story. Additionally, you can adjust the volume, pause it, and start the audio back up again by double-clicking on a word if you want to re-read it or if you lose your place.
Teachers can get a full-version account for free, but it’s only available for a limited time. I checked today, and this offer is still valid. Once teachers have an account, they can create specific classes within Booktrack Classroom, add students to it, assign individualized books to each of their students, monitor and track their progress, and much more. These classes also integrate with Google Classroom, so teachers can send anything in their Booktrack Class to their Google Classroom. Booktrack Classroom also keeps track of books you or your students want to read, are reading, or have read in “My Bookshelf”. According to Evidence-based Educational Outcomes in Literacy by the University of Auckland and NYU, contextual soundtracks helped students increase comprehension by 17%. This study also found students read for 30% longer and reported 35% higher satisfaction when reading with a Booktrack. Now, here comes the coolest part of Booktrack Classroom.
Students and teachers can create their own Booktracks for any book in the Booktrack Classroom library. For example, teachers can have students create their own Booktracks for a chapter out of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It gets even better. Students can create their very own e-books on Booktrack Classroom. They can write their own stories and choose from hundreds of professionally made music tracks, ambient noises, and sound effects to match the mood and setting of their stories. Additionally, they can create a book cover and then publish it for others to read and enjoy. There is much potential here for the four Cs (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication).
I encourage you to read a book on Booktrack Classroom yourself because the experience gave me a huge “Wow” moment. When my eyes came to the part in A Christmas Carol when the bell in Ebenezer’s bedroom mysteriously rings, and then the sound of a bell rang while eerie music played in the background, I was as shocked as Scrooge but in a good way.