“Mom, turn it on! Turn it back on!” These were the shouts coming from the back seat as I had stopped the audio book. I mean, you’ve got to pause sometimes to answer a call or ask your husband a question. But, those kids weren’t having it! They want to listen to books endlessly!
We’ve found a new joy in audio books lately for numerous reasons. This is our story about discovering audio books.
We have a homeschool curriculum that includes “read alouds.” These are books that I’m supposed to read out loud to the kids. Even once they can read for themselves, there is great value in children (and even grown ups) hearing books read to them.
So, I read out loud to the kids. A LOT. But, a new fun thing developed when we were reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We found them in an audio version at the library. We didn’t need an audio version as we have all of the series at home and I’m certainly a good reader and capable of reading out loud. However, it was around Christmas time and I was trying to work on some crochet projects and listening to the book freed up my hands to crochet or fold laundry (or curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and just listen??!! Not often, but it does happen once in awhile!). The kids said they preferred the audio book because it was “more dramatic.”
If you’ve never listened to an audio book, try it out! It really does bring a story to life in a whole new way when you listen to a professional (usually an actor or the author) read it to you!
These actors who read these stories really are more than just readers. They use subtly different voices for different characters and sometimes there will even be music in appropriate places in the story. If a song is included, they’ll sing it (and they actually know how the song goes whereas mom often doesn’t!).
Another problem solved by audio books was that as I have added another child into our homeschooling world that meant another set of read alouds that I was supposed to be doing. I had been just reading one book to all of the kids together (obviously the youngest two don’t listen in much). My 1st grader is glad to listen in with the 3rd grader, but I didn’t want the younger one to miss out on some of these beloved stories we read together in 1st grade. Books like Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Henry Huggins and Homer Price and The Hundred Dresses. Checking out the audio book for a couple of the read alouds and letting the kids listen on their own time or in the car and suddenly we are adding in more books than I could read out loud on my own.
Car time reading is an amazing treasure we have found in audio books. At one time we had a portable DVD player in our car and before trips I would always be sure to pack DVDs for the trip. This was a handy tool, especially with kids who are small and mostly unable to amuse themselves for long car rides.
But, the DVD player broke. Kaput. The end. We were in the middle of the Little House books and took one on a trip and we were all hooked! Everyone could listen and it was something we were doing together. Instead of with DVDs where the kids are watching and mom and dad are just hearing things that don’t seem to make sense.
Suddenly, packing for trips has changed from gathering DVDs to making a trip to the library for audio books to listen to on our trips.
Here is a list of books we’ve been listening to at home and on the go:
(Just a small disclaimer. Some of these books may seem to be “girl books” or “boy books”, but I have to say that usually everyone enjoys all stories that we share together. It doesn’t typically matter if the hero is female or male, the kids just like great stories. This is also true of age levels. There are some picture books we have in our home that my 8 1/2 year old still loves to read on his own and there are complicated books that the 4 year old will listen along with us and catch most of the story. If it’s truly a “classic” then usually it will be enjoyable to everyone.)
The Boxcar Children
The Little Princess (this didn’t get a huge vote from the Boy, but Big Sister liked it and I LOVED it. What a beautiful story!)
The Little House series (We only listened to Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years. We read the other books.)
Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea (everyone gave two thumbs up for the Anne books, even Dad who caught parts of these on trips. I was surprised because the language is rather advanced, but they didn’t seem to mind and enjoyed the stories anyway.)
Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (These really aren’t little kid books, although the Disney adaptations are viewed that way. These are delightful, clever stories that anyone can enjoy.)
Ramona and Her Mother (Oh how I laughed listening to this old favorite again!)
Justin Morgan Had a Horse
Shiloh (this is in the getting ready to listen to category, but they wanted me to include it because they’re sure they’ll like it! )
My Side of the Mountain (this gets a big vote from the Boy who listened to this one on his own)
(We’re getting ready to start Johnny Tremain)
The kids have also enjoyed some shorter picture books and I can read books that we find on CD at the library. Books like the Froggy books or Henry and Mudge.
My children are good readers and they enjoying reading books on their own and I certainly require a certain amount of that, but audio books also free them to just listen to stories sometimes and not always have to do the work of reading the book.
Being read to increases listening skills, but I also think it increases imagination! When you see a story acted out in a movie, you’re stuck with the directors and actors’ interpretation of things. But, when you hear a story and have to imagine all of the characters and scenes yourself, they leave an imprint on your mind in a different way.
I have also found that listening to books is increasing a love of books and a lifestyle of learning in our home. We aren’t relegating “school” to just a few hours of instructional time. These aren’t boring things they have to do. Books are entertainment for them! Choosing books while in the car and in free time is causing my children to enjoy reading at a new level.
And, I have to say that I’m loving it! I’ve always loved to read, but in this season of my life, reading time is somewhat limited. Being able to re-listen to old favorites that really are “timeless” in the car or while using my hands for other projects has been a total joy for me! Being able to enjoy these books WITH my children has really been so fun. More than fun. Truly a blessing!
Now, we have to learn self-control and not listen to our favorite book all morning instead of doing math!