Upcycled Silent Reading Tube and Story

When you have one child who likes reading aloud, and another who likes reading in complete silence, you need a solution. In this post I’m sharing a picture book and a tool that can help – a paper towel roll turned silent reading tube that amplifies little reader’s whispers as they read to themselves.



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A Story about Being Quiet While Others Are Reading


Roger is Reading a Book by Koen Van Biesen is a fun way to spark discussion about being quiet while others are reading. (affiliate)


The story opens with Roger sitting on a stool reading a book. He looks stuffy in his reading glasses, plaid bow-tie, and tweed cap.


Then we meet his small, noisy neighbor, Emily.


Each page has graphically illustrated onomatopoeic words. When Emily bounces her ball with a “Boing Boing”, Roger responds with a “Knock.” She switches to various other noisy activities, and Roger raps on the wall with increasing insistence.


Finally, after “Knock Knock Knockity Knock” doesn’t work, Roger has another idea. He takes Emily a gift wrapped box. She opens it to find a book, and eagerly begins reading.


Then there’s a silly ending, but I won’t spoil your fun.


This is a story that invites participation. When I read it to my girls, they enjoyed reading the large graphic “noise” words on each page. Then we talked about the differences between reading aloud and reading silently to yourself.



How to Help Kids Read Quietly


Most beginning readers need to hear and sound out the words they’re decoding. If you have multiple children reading aloud at once, though, it can get noisy. For kids who need silence to concentrate, someone reading aloud nearby is a distraction.


Teachers use a brilliant solution called a WhisperPhone® (affiliate) or something similar. I’ve seen that some make their own out of PVC pipe. I thought it would be fun to make a simple one from a paper towel roll.


It took me forever to figure out the best way to make it, but in the end, it’s pretty easy!




Silent Reading Tube Instructions


I made the first version of this reading tube with a hacksaw. It was a little tricky. So I went back to the drawing board. After too many tries, I was really frustrated.



Then, I got my engineer husband involved. He had me revisit some trigonometry that I never thought I’d need in my adult life. We ended up with a perfect template that makes this project super easy to do. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • paper towel roll
  • Template printout (be sure to print in Landscape orientation)
  • Small sharp scissors – I use these (affiliate)
  • Masking tape
  • Glue – I used hot glue, but I think strong white glue would work too.
  • Paint & paintbrush
  • Washi tape (optional)


  1. On the template, cut along the straight black lines all the way to the edges of the paper.
  2. Next, wrap the template around the paper towel roll as shown above. Secure with tape.
  3. Carefully poke your scissors into the curve lines and cut along the lines. Remove paper.
  4. Rotate the ends, and glue together as shown.
  5. Paint. I painted first with white acrylic paint as a primer, then covered it with a metallic blue tempera paint similar to this one (affiliate).
  6. Decorate your new reading tube with washi tape or however you like.


Now your child is ready to read aloud in a whisper, but still hear herself. Perfect when Roger, or a sibling or classmate, is reading a book too.

Help kids read aloud quietly with this upcycled paper towel roll that they can whisper into and hear themselves read. {Free reading tube template}




  1. That silent reading tube would be good for our house. My oldest likes to have absolute silence and my youngest likes to “whisper” her words while reading.

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