audiobooks, anyone?

July 16, 2010

A few months back when I asked for your help, you showed up in the comments like kind neighbors with casseroles at the house of a sick person. Would you do it again?

Can you tell me about your family and audiobook listening?

I’m starting a chapter on audiobooks for my book. (My book! Remember that old notion? Remember the chapter-a-month challenge? Golly gee whiz, I have some catching up to do.)

we love audiobooks

Listening to audiobooks together has probably been one of the most consistent activities we’ve done in our family’s thirteen years of homeschooling–a close second only to my reading aloud. From the time H was about five, we’ve almost always had an audiobook running in the car. We’ve listened to everything from Ramona the Pest to The Odyssey. Nowadays H isn’t in the car with us very often, and the book is usually one that T and I have chosen together–but Lulu often surreptitiously switches off her iPod and listens along.

Both older kids also spent years listening to audiobooks in their rooms. Lulu especially. She’s an auditory learner and didn’t love reading until she was about eight. But she loved her audiobooks. And she listened to them again. And again. And again. And–it must be said–again. Mr. T has been doing the same for the last three years or so. I can’t believe that our Harry Potter discs haven’t worn down to wafers by now.

In my notebook, I’m jotting down notes about why I think we love audiobooks so much. Here are a few random thoughts.

  • Audiobooks make me feel less guilty about all the driving we do. All the activity-schlepping and errand-running is instantly transformed into a literature appreciation session.
  • Professional readers even make the classics captivating. Have you ever heard Tim Curry read A Christmas Carol? And Patrick Fraley’s rendition of Huckleberry Finn is a revelation. (I’ve decided that no kid should be expected to read Huckleberry Finn and all its confounding dialect, when the spoken version is such a joy.)
  • On days when I’m feeling sick or lazy, or one of the kids is feeling sick or lazy, we can curl up on the couch and have someone read to us. Someone who reads really well. (And if Mama isn’t feeling too sick or lazy, she might even be able to knit.)
  • Audiobooks allow kids who might not be reading yet–or may not enjoy reading–to lap up literature.
  • Likewise, audiobooks allow kids to enjoy books that might be more advanced than their reading abilities.
  • Listening to books–and re-listening to them!–helps kids internalize the flow and rhythm of good writing.
  • Some books I just don’t want to read aloud. All those thick-as-a-dictionary Harry Potters? You may call it sacrilege, but I just couldn’t do it. And why would I want to, when Jim Dale and his universe of wondrous voices does it so much better?
  • If you’re into silly phrases like vocabulary-builder, audiobooks are it. I’ll never forget the morning when seven-year-old Lulu accused her older brother of having “a severe lack of moral stamina.” (Thanks, Lemony Snicket!) I’m also pretty sure that audiobooks had something to do with H’s high SAT reading scores. Not that we listened because I cared a dang about SAT scores back then, but it’s a useful fringe benefit.
  • And perhaps most dear to my heart: when we listen in the car together, our drives often become impromptu literature analysis sessions. Casual book clubs, if you will. This isn’t something I instigate, mind you, but something that just happens. Someone will say something like I think J.K. Rowling makes the beginning drag on for too long or Why is it so funny when a bad guy like Count Olaf says a word like yep? And suddenly we’re all throwing in our opinions and dissecting just what makes writing good. It’s a beautiful thing. And do I see the results of these conversations come into play in my kids’ own writing? Um, yep.

I am still a great fan of reading aloud, and would never let audiobooks replace reading to my kids. But there’s something discretely captivating about a good audiobook. Maybe it’s the professional reader. Maybe it’s the fact that we manage to get through audiobooks faster than our read-alouds–and momentum can be an important factor in enjoying a book. Maybe it’s because it takes no extra energy from me to stay in the car a little longer when we get to a really good part. I don’t know. But I do know that listening to audiobooks has played a large role in my kids’ development as writers. And I want to include a chapter about that.

So tell me: Does your family listen to audiobooks? How? When? Where? Could you share some favorites?

Please feel welcome to respond to any or all of the above, or whatever else crosses your mind. Thank you. Your feedback means even more to me than a pan of homemade vegetarian lasagna.

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Lise July 16, 2010 at 10:09 am

When we made the switch from cassettes to CDs, I lost all my storytapes (I work with preschoolers, so that’s my version of audiobooks). One of these days, I’d really like to re-build my collection; perhaps on iTunes? In the meanwhile, we’ve discovered storylineonline.net (we listen, but don’t watch the video), storynory.com (love the Irish accent!), and even some read-alouds on youtube (again–we listen, but don’t watch. A favorite there is “Goodnight Moon” by Susan Sarandon.) Like you, I don’t replace reading aloud with recordings, but use them in addition. I love them at naptime for non-nappers.

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patricia July 16, 2010 at 10:36 am

We still call audiobooks “storytapes” because that’s what we called them too, back when we first started listening. My kids have CD players that also play cassettes in their rooms, which is great because they can still listen to library cassettes, as well as CDs.

It’s good to be reminded of recorded short stories for younger kids–it’s been a few years since we’ve listened to those, but they’re great too! So nice to put them on and listen quietly while doing art, or during naptime like you mentioned. Thanks for sharing your sources! I’m sure other readers will appreciate those too, Lise.

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Lise January 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Ooh…I have to add Sparkle Stories (sparklestories.com), to which we’ve started subscribing since my first comment here. We LOVE them–especially the Martin and Sylvia storyline. Martin and Sylvia are home schooled, spend gobs of time in nature, have cool parents who take turns being the stay-at-home parent, and have a great sibling relationship. Well worth the cost.

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patricia January 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I’ve heard such good things about Sparkle Stories. My kids are all a bit (or more than a bit) old for them, so I appreciate that you’ve recommended them, Lise. How fabulous that they include home schooled characters!

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Just Peaches July 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Hands down favourite for my girls was “The Moffats” by Eleanor Estes read by Cynthia Bishop. When my second was in grade 2, I actually send the CDs away with friends who were travelling to the Maritimes just to give myself a break! Now my third listens the same stories over and over while she is drawing, playing quietly or I’m folding laundry.

Oh, and Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” read by Eric Idle.

Though not really a book, another favourite audio story was The Seal Maiden:A Celtic Musical by Karan Casey. (Still a little scary for the third).

The only tapes we really listened to in the car were the Ramona stories, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and (by far our favourite)The Frances Collection by Russell Hoban (we all still quote from that last one complete with British accents:)

There is something very communal about listening to stories together isn’t there? I can still sing: “What do veal cutlets wear before their breaded?” and someone will inevitably respond with a smile, “flannel nightgowns, cowboy boots, furry jackets, sailor suits”.

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patricia July 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Frances the badger! I remember my own parents reading those to me, so they were among my favorite read-alouds when the kids were small. My husband refused to read them because they went on and on, but I loved them. They have such gentle, sweet humor. Frances’ parents were very wise badgers! We did listen to the audiobook version a few times, but mostly I hogged the actual books to read aloud.

And Eric Idle reads Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?! How did we never discover that one? (Probably because that was one of my husband’s favorite read-alouds.)

We also loved the Moffats, as well as the Saturdays books by Elizabeth Enright. (I always lump those together because they’re next to each other at the library, and they have a similar retro feel to them.)

Listening together is communal. That’s a great way to put it–and one of the reasons I like audiobooks so much.

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Just Peaches July 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Your reader’s might also like to check out http://charlottemason.tripod.com/ for suggested audio tapes. Sneak a peek!

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patricia July 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Great list! Thanks for the link!

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Barrie July 17, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Audie’s first major chapter books after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, which we read aloud, were the Harry Potter series last year when she was 5; these we read aloud and via audiobook at the same time, depending on whether we were reading at home or going somewhere in the car. We love Stephen Fry’s narration of the series even more than that of Jim Dale, but the former were released only in the UK so they can be hard to get a hold of.

We then fell in love with Gerald Doyle’s narration of the Septimus Heap books (so far–the series is not yet finished) and Percy Jackson. The latter, narrated by Jesse Stern (who seems to have trouble with dialog cadence sometimes) is definitely less literary than the former, but both are great fun and repeated ad nauseum in her room by Audie, similar to how you described Lulu. What’s more, Percy Jackson has inspired a deep and abiding interest in the original Greek myths, and checking out several of those books at the library then led to reading about Norse and Chinese mythology, Buddha’s stories, and so on.

Susan recommended Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men to us, and although I loved it, Audie couldn’t understand what was going on so we’ve shelved it in the iTunes library until later. This may have something to do with the thick brogue of the excellent narrator–one of these days I’ll help her through it, or maybe read it aloud first with my sad American imitation of the Pictsies’ accents.

Audiobooks are definitely the way to go, especially if you are going to drive all over the Southwest US like we did last winter, and of course for kids to enjoy books far beyond their reading level.

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patricia July 18, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I had no idea that there was a UK version of the Harry Potter audiobooks. Hard to imagine a reader better than Jim Dale–but I believe you!

T has just been asking me to order him the Percy Jackson audiobooks from the library, so that’s next for us. Did Audie ever listen to the audio version of D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths, read by Paul Newman, Kathleen Turner, Sidney Poitier and Matthew Broderick? Fabulous. It’s been listened to many, many times by my kids over the years. Because of those CDs, they know all the myths by heart, and it’s fun to see how often they’re alluded to in modern life.

We loved Wee Free Men on audio, although my kids were older when we listened. I remember nearly crashing the car, we were laughing so hard, when the reader was describing the character of No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock. (I had to copy that from Wikipedia to get it right!)

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Barrie July 19, 2010 at 7:32 am

Yes–I love that part with all the Jocks! And of course the part about someone having to marry the new kelder and how that situation is resolved, to everyone’s relief. This, of course, is all over Audie’s head so I’m pretty sure the humor in it will escape her for a while, even when she can understand what’s going on. Maybe in a year or two.

We read D’Auliare’s book, and Audie loved the pictures, especially the one of Ares stuffed in a jar, and the family tree at the beginning. We really ought to get the audio version, she would love to hear that in the car! The actors involved sound wonderful.

Stephen Fry is absolutely amazing–he’s most known in the US for “V for Vendetta”, I think, and he was the voice of the Cheshire Cat in the recent Alice in Wonderland film: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000410/. He was the Narrator for several of the Harry Potter movies, when they had narrators (which I don’t even remember–probably because it sounded so natural to me to have his voice narrating!).

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Carrie Pomeroy July 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm

For about a year and a half, my almost-eight-year-old son listened to story CDs upstairs in his room every day after lunch, usually for about an hour or so. We called it quiet time. It gave me some time alone with his sister and time to catch up on chores without taking care of two kids. I think it increased his vocabulary a great deal and gave him an ability to listen to complex plotlines and difficult language well before he was able to read.

We have loved Odds Bodkin’s “Little Proto” dinosaur stories and his Paul Bunyan stories CD, and Jim Weiss’s versions of Greek myths.

I have very fond memories of my daughter, son, and I laughing hysterically while listening to “Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business” on a road trip, and the whole family laughing at “Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying.” The Hank the Cowdog books on CD have also helped us pass car trips with pleasure and lots of laughter. Both series have given us opportunities to talk about what an unreliable narrator is.

Another wonderful favorite is the Olivia books read by Dame Edna Everage in classic high style. I brought the Olivia CD on a car trip thinking they were really more for my three-year-old, but my six-year-old thought they were hilarious, too, due to mainly to Dame Edna’s comic timing and the funny use of music.

Through trolling for new books on CD from the library, we’ve also discovered some authors I might not have picked off the shelf in book form, like Bruce Coville.

My son taught himself to read very quickly, and I noticed that he reads with great expression, really getting across the emotions when he reads aloud. I suspect that part of why he reads so expressively is that he’s listened to so many hours of great actors interpreting stories. I also think part of why he was able to pick up reading very quickly once he was ready is that he had heard such a wide range of words so many times, he was ready to put the sounds of the words together with the letters on a page.

My son has actually gotten out of the habit of listening to CDs at quiet time and reads more now. I’m sort of sad he’s not listening to those CDs more!

Thanks for the opportunity to think about this!

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patricia July 18, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Lots of great recommendations here too! We’re big Jim Weiss fans. Odds Bodkins is a harder sell with my kids–on many of his recordings, the audio level is widely varying, and sometimes his guitar makes it hard to hear the words. But once we got used to him, we liked his Odyssey a lot.

We’ve enjoyed Bruce Coville too. His full-cast audio recordings are especially fun.

Your thoughts about the effects of your son’s audiobook listening are interesting. I didn’t mention audiobooks helping kids to develop expressiveness when reading aloud, but that’s a great benefit! My kids got that from audiobooks as well. And I think it can make their learning to read easier, just as you say.

Funny how you miss him listening to audiobooks, since he reads so much. I’ll bet there was a time when you wished he was reading more. 😉

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shannon July 18, 2010 at 1:31 am

We just started getting into the audio books this past year. We’ve been reading chapter books aloud at night for quite some time, but during the day or on a car ride (and we have plenty of long ones lately since we’re looking for a place to live three hours away!), we’ve been listening to fairy and folk tales on CD. At home, it’s usually just a little quiet time, so we haven’t tried any long chapter books yet.
Jim Weiss is a big favorite and there have been some good finds at the library lately (John Cleese telling Tom Thumb is pretty fun).
I anticipate we’ll have a long, happy relationship with audio books in the years to come. :)

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patricia July 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I’ll be sorry to see you go if you move three hours away, Shannon! I often feel like I don’t connect as well as I’d like to at the park. I think I need to put down my knitting and get out of my chair more often!

There’s nothing like audiobooks for long car rides. We started with Jim Weiss too. But I’ve never heard John Cleese read Tom Thumb! How have I missed both him and Eric Idle? Will have to look those up for T; he loves that British humor.

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Kristin July 21, 2010 at 9:14 am

Glad you are including this topic in your book.

Yes we do listen to audio books for all the reasons you mentioned in your post. They are a fantastic means of keeping the peace among the siblings on long car journeys and make the ride fun.

Our daughter is addicted to them and can’t get to sleep without playing one (drawback-she’s conditioned herself to need it to get to sleep–but the story keeps her awake). Her vocabulary is precocious; her comprehension is stellar–due to audio books (and us reading and talking to her ofcourse).

Another drawback: I think they can also be a detraction from learning to read because the subject matter is so interesting and compelling, the kids are bored with the content they must start out with as they begin to learn to read. Said another way: audio books seem to advance their cognitive skills beyond their reading ability.

A few favorites: anything read by Jim Weiss; Black Beauty, The Pearl, A Single Shard (a tale woven around the oldest known piece of celadon pottery), and The Trumpet of the Swan, narrated and read by E.B. White.

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patricia July 21, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I remember that C. has listened to audiobooks at bedtime since she was a wee thing! Can you imagine the hours of listening she’s put in by now?

It’s funny to think that a drawback of audiobooks is that they advance kids’ cognitive skills beyond their reading abilities! But I know what you mean. It’s hard to enjoy those bland easy-to-read books when you’ve been appreciating good literature through your ears. Then again, those bland books are an issue for most kids who have been raised in literate environments. On the flipside, I agree with Carrie above, who noted that reading often comes easier (eventually) for kids who have a long history with audiobooks because they’ve been exposed to so much vocabulary and expressive language.

I’ve never heard E.B. White read his own work! He’s one of my favorite essayists; I’ll have to look that one up.

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Jenny July 21, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Vince was an avid audio books user. Since he was in a book club he often had to read books he may not have picked for himself but the audio readings were often the difference between reading the book or not. We both loved the wonderful readers we encountered. The library was great for using audio books without the grand expense. We almost always found the book we wanted on one of three systems.

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patricia July 21, 2010 at 10:35 pm

We love our library for audiobooks. We’ve pretty much plowed through the collection at our branch, so it’s always fun to raid other branches. Seeing new audiobooks at the library is like Christmas morning!

Audiobooks are great for getting through books you wouldn’t choose on your own, aren’t they? And they’re good for helping kids (and adults!) through the classics. I have been meaning to read Passage to India for years–I finally got the CD from the library and downloaded it to my iPod. Something to knit by!

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susan July 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Some more votes for The Wee Free Men and the two sequels A Hatful of Sky and The Wintersmith. We’ve listened to the Wintersmith loads of times. You’ve got to love Annoya, the goddess of stuck drawers (it is always the egg slicer).

Greta has memorized the d’Aulaires myths. They are great, except Sidney Poitier murders the Greek names. Lord of the Rings read by Rob Inglis is great and it’s 55 hours–hello road trip! The only problem is that her reads all the songs and poems–but that gives us a chance to all hiss “it burns us!” like gollum.

We like to do foreign languages in the car by listening to books and songs. It is a great way to get in 15 minutes every day of French or Latin. It is a rare day when we don’t spend 15 minutes in the car.

I like to get adult non-fiction books and try them out. We’ve listened to His Excellency George Washington, The World Without Us, Seashell on the Mountaintop and Public Speaking for Dummies. I don’t particularly recommend them, but I recommend the idea of getting a few such books out of the library and seeing if they capture anyone’s interest. It almost always leads to an interesting conversation even if we don’t make it through much of the book.

Eye in the Ear has very well done American history short stories–they are very engaging and are a good jumping off point for discussions about viewpoint and bias. The story of George Washington is a delightful hagiography which my kids critiqued having listened to much of His Excellency GW.

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patricia July 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Lulu listened to the Wee Free Men sequels without me. I think it’s time to listen with Mr. T. He’d love them. It’s fun to revisit audiobooks with him that I listened to with the older two.

I’d forgotten about Sidney Poitier’s issues with Greek names. Funny. Now I remember the kids futilely correcting him.

I haven’t listened to a lot of nonfiction with the kids, but it’s a great idea. It’s always a little hard when you have a wide age range listening along. But some of the recent books on food, growing practices and the environment seem promising for sharing–at least in excerpts.

Will look into Eye in the Ear! If for no other reason than it’s a great name for an audiobook company! Ooh look, lots of good stuff: http://www.eyeintheear.com/

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Carrie July 21, 2010 at 11:44 pm

We loved the Wee Free Men and that led us to all of Terry Pratchett’s disc world books. The ones that don’t involve Tiffany Aching are “adult” and have occassional oblique references to more adult themes…but Jesse is happily listneing to them. Everything that is too adult goes right over his head. Right now we are on Wyrd Sisters which is loosely based on Macbeth. The fact that there are three different “readers” of the series has led to some great discussions about the importance of inflection and timing, especially when reading humor.

Along with many of the other fantasy books mentioned, both my boys have listened to all the Narnia books and the Taran the Wanderer series over and over. And of course T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone ( bk 1 of the Once and Future King). A really lovely more obscure fantasy is The Last Dragon by Sivana Di Mari.

Nathan and I really enjoyed Ivanhoe. While Jesse has loved all the Edith Nesbitt fantasy classics and the Edgar Eager books inspired by her.

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon has some truly wonderful language, reminds me of Rudyard Kipling…which makes me think that we might just try Rudyard Kipling himself. Oh, and Michael Chabon’s Summerland is also fun.

I bet Dickens would be good too.

Oh, and did you know that Audible.com has all of Joy Hakim’s the Story of US available. I know the books themselves are quite visually rich, it is hard to imagine them as an audio book. But the audio books really bring out the story aspect of the books, which some how gets lost for me in the books themselves, what with all the pictures and photo captions and inserts.

As you can see, audio books have played a big part in our life.

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patricia July 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

Okay, I’m queueing up Terry Pratchett. And the discussions about inflection, timing and humor sound fabulous. We’ve done a lot of that too–especially debating the differences between the Unfortunate Events books read by Tim Currie and by Daniel Handler, the author. Both have their merits. Those are just the sort of conversations about nuance in writing and speaking that I love. Better than any required writing or public speaking class!

Summerland is one book I’ve been meaning to try via audiobook with T. I tried, valiantly, to read it aloud to the older two years ago, but we just couldn’t get through it. Too many characters, too dense. Somehow the book frustrated the kids to no end, because they wanted to like it. I’ve always thought it would work better via audiotape, because we’d get through it faster, and keep the momentum going. And I believe Chabon reads it, and you all know how much I love him! http://patriciazaballos.com/2009/12/10/november-notes-on-michael-chabon/ Must look up Gentlemen of the Road–never heard of it!

And, no, I didn’t know about The History of US on audio! I’m thrilled to hear it. We own the series, and I read much of it to the older two–and they read from it themselves as well. But it seems like it has great potential as a regular listen-along, and we can always keep the book copy out, to study all the great graphics.

Woo hoo—thanks for all the great recommendations, Carrie!

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melissa s. July 22, 2010 at 9:11 am

We discovered audiobooks this summer after finishing the thick-as-dictionary Harry Potter series (ugh!) A book on tape helps tremendously when I have a little one to entertain while the older one wants to “read.” And I feel like the little one gets more out of the story because she feels somewhat involved (or at least is not trying to yell over my reading for attention). I do feel a tinge of guilt that we’re missing out on the cuddle time that goes along with “manual” reading but we make up for that at bedtime reading. We flip between each method throughout the day.

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patricia July 22, 2010 at 11:52 am

I have to laugh at your tinge of guilt about listening rather than reading aloud yourself–only because I used to beat myself up over that too. But I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to read everything aloud myself, that we often enjoy the professional read-alouds more than the books I read. We just get through them faster, and the readers are better, despite all my wacky voices.

I’ll read aloud to my kids as long as they’ll let me–Mr. T is my last remaining audience at this point–because I love that cuddle time, and I think there’s nothing like being read to by a parent. But I don’t feel guilty about the audiobooks anymore, because my kids have enjoyed so much more literature than they ever would have, if they had to get it all through me.

Plus, we seem to have many more discussions about the books we’ve listened to together, compared to the ones I’ve read aloud. I’m not sure why that is–maybe being stuck in the car together promotes conversations.

I remembered that you said you were reading the Harry Potters aloud. Did you read all of them? You get the Parenting Medal of the Year, my friend!

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melissa s. July 22, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Yes, we got through all the Harry Potters aloud. In fact, it was the chore of reading book #6 that prompted me to search out audiobooks. Even Holden (6) questioned why it was “taking so long to get to the good parts???”

Thank you for the medal, although I will have to pass it to my husband who is currently reading 214 pages of “The Life and Legend of Obi-wan Kenobi.” Now THAT takes dedication :-)

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patricia July 22, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Giggle giggle, hee hee. Daddy Medal of the Decade.

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Carrie July 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm

How could I forget Hank the Cowdog!!! We have audio tapes/cd’s of the first 32 of the stories , as well as the CD compilation of the songs from all the books. They have probably racked up more listening time in our house than all the other titles combined!

If you don’t know Hank the Cowdog…he can be found here: http://www.hankthecowdog.com/

Carrie

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patricia July 29, 2010 at 7:17 am

We’ve never heard Hank the Cowdog. Maybe we could borrow a CD…

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Jill July 28, 2010 at 8:14 pm

We loved I, Coriander, brilliantly read by Juliet Stevenson, Tale of Despereaux as intoned by Graeme Malcolm, and Drowned Wednesday (our favorite of the Garth Nix series), as read by Allan Corduner.

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patricia July 29, 2010 at 7:15 am

We enjoyed the Tale of Despereaux (and also Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane). But we haven’t heard the others, so thanks for the recommendations, Jill. And thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

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Tracy September 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm

The How to Train Your Dragon series read by David Tennant (the 10th Doctor Who) is fantastic. I tried to read the first book in the series to my son and found it unbearable, but I thoroughly enjoy listening to the audiobooks because of Tennant’s outstanding voices.

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patricia September 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

We haven’t listened to that series on audiobook, but I know my son would enjoy it. I’ll have to see if one of our other branch libraries has it.

We’ve often had a similar experience with audiobooks: we enjoy the audiobook version of something that didn’t quite work as a read-aloud. Those professional readers know what they’re doing!

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Tracy!

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Barbara June 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I love the line about wearing out the Harry Potter CDs. We currently have Goblet of Fire out from the library and my girls are on their 5th consecutive listen. They get to the end and just start it over again. I find this fascinating since this has never happened with other audiobooks.

Some favorites for the younger set have been all the Magic Treehouse books and Araminta Spookie. Others we’ve loved are the Mysterious Benedict Society and the Penderwicks.

Mainly I’m just glad to be reminded that audiobooks are a reasonable part of a literacy “curriculum”–sometimes I despair that my precocious early reader has basically abandoned reading books herself, preferring to listen to them. She’ll start reading herself again, right??

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patricia June 25, 2011 at 9:03 am

It used to bother me when Lulu would re-listen to audiobooks repeatedly. Seemed so passive. But eventually I came to see that she was literally soaking in language. She’s always had wonderful rhythm and voice as a writer, and I think a lot of that comes from all the audiobook listening she did when she was younger.

I absolutely understand that despair about your early reader enjoying listening. Yes, she’ll come back to reading, I’m sure! Lulu gorged on audiobooks when she was younger; still I tempted her by taking her to the library lots, because there are so many books not available in audio format. So she’d read those. Now, at 15, she loves to read and will not consider an audiobook. Even when offered any one she chooses, free, from audible.com!

Mr. T also favors audiobooks. At nine, he prefers audiobooks for chapter books. He’ll read chapter books on his own, if they’re not available on audio, but he doesn’t drink them in the way his sibs did. But nonfiction! He’s incredibly curious and will read any nonfiction book I leave lying around, if it’s on a topic that he’s expressed an interest in. I’m not sure why this is his pattern. Sometimes I think he doesn’t have the patience to keep track of where he is in a chapter book–or where he’s left that chapter book! He likes to flit around from book to book. Still, I think it all works out. He’s reading a ton of nonfiction, hearing fabulous fiction, and reading it himself sporadically. He’s a very literate kid, and he’s done it his own way.

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renee @ FIMBY November 16, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Yes, all the time, and we don’t even do much driving. We all enjoy it.

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patricia November 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Hi Renee! This comment snuck in without Wordpress sending the typical notification email, so I just discovered it. Thank you so much for linking this post on FIMBY! Good to spread the audiobook love!

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Jennifer Gallegos June 6, 2012 at 11:37 am

Our kids are absolutely enthralled with the Chronicles of Narnia audio series. They beg to listen to it at bedtime as well as during the day!

I will have to check out some of the recommendations in the comments!

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patricia June 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm

My kids loved that series on audio too. Regarding your comment below, lots of libraries now offer free downloading of audiobooks online! Pretty sweet.

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Jennifer Gallegos June 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thanks for Audible.com recommendation! Now all I need to get is a Kindle 😉

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Lu November 27, 2012 at 2:21 am

Our fam are huge fans of audio books (“cassette books” in home lingo).
For a shortie Dr. De Soto is a favourite around here. The right blend of creepy and ?
Our all-time fave is a set of old cassettes of the Just-so-stories read by Tony Robinson. They are swift, funny, and suit my 3 and 7 year olds…plus my partner and I also like them! They are full of repeatable phrases…Not long ago my 3 year old daughter responded to an invite to play an excitable round of pirates with a hilariously languid “No. I am the cat that walks alone, and all places are alike to me”.
I agree that audios are particularly a propos for books where the language is from an earlier era. I also like them for books which I don’t prefer, but my kids like. For example the Magic Tree house books.

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patricia December 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

Thanks for sharing your favorites, Lu!

I love it when kids repeat words and phrases from audiobooks that seem completely beyond them!

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JJ January 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Second Just So Stories by Kipling, my 4 year old loved listening to them on repeat. We also have the Frog and Toad series read by the author and have enjoyed them immensely.

Thanks for so many great suggestions, I’ve got a bunch of holds set at my library!

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patricia January 10, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I have a soft spot in my heart for Frog and Toad, JJ.

Glad you found some good recommendations!

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wanderingsue June 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Oh, this is pure gold. We’re just getting towards a 5th birthday- now I know what to suggest to all the gift-idea-needers! But I can’t wait that long, either, so will hit the library tomorrow. Mmmmmmm, thanks!

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patricia June 25, 2013 at 7:45 am

Audiobooks are an ideal gift for a five-year-old, wanderingsue!

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Angie September 18, 2013 at 4:42 am

For Greek myths try “Atticus the storyteller” very entertaining!
Also there is a great variety of older book titles available for free from http://www.librivox.org

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patricia September 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I’ve never heard of this version of Greek myths, Angie, but it looks interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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