Monday, January 20, 2014

We (Still) Love Audiobooks

For the past almost-five years, Matthew has been listening to audio books...first, he listened to the hundreds of audio books we have in our CD collection.  These days, when I'm not reading out loud, he listens to books I download for him - mostly from (and sometimes from Librivox).

For the past year or so, Seth has been listening to audio books with Matthew.  The boys lie on their bellies side by side on the floor in their bedroom and draw or work on intricate colouring pages, or do some other kind of craft (Matthew is into knitting hats with looms, and Rainbow Loom elastic bracelet making)...and they listen to audio book after audio book.

Because Seth's interest in audio books is growing exponentially, and because he and Matthew are not at the same comprehension level at this point, Geoff and I gave Seth his own ipod at Christmas, so that they can both listen to their own books via headphones while crafting side-by-side on their bellies...and sometimes they still choose to listen to the same thing so that they don't need their headphones.  Either way, they're awesome to watch!

The boys now both own a basic ipod Nano...not an ipod Touch.  Our intent was/is not to give them access to video games etc, but to open them up even more the world of books.

I've talked about before: here.  But for any parent wanting to encourage their kids to hear more books being read out loud, let me give a completely voluntary, non-paid shout-out!!  We LOVE  I pay $22.95/month to receive two credits every month...and whenever a credit sale happens, I buy more credits because we use them all...and still want more.  I also always look for deals on kids' books - for example, when came out with a 5-volume set of The Boxcar Children, I nabbed that and so got five books for the price of one (credit); this happens regularly and we've purchased many book collections/sets in this manner.  Occasionally, when a book sale happens on and the price of a book goes down to just a few dollars for a book that I would like the boys to listen to, I will purchase that book rather than using up a credit.  Given how many books we go through, I'm pretty careful to be current on all deals and sales, and I often purchase and download a book that the boys aren't even quite ready for...but at the rate we go through them, it's generally only a month or two before those books, too, are downloaded onto an ipod.

A couple of years ago, I researched kids' books extensively and came up with a list of Newbery Award winners, various Top-100 kids' books of all time, and so on.  I then spent a few hours searching for these books (and found virtually every book I was interested in!) and whichever ones I liked the look of, I added to my wish list.  I regularly add to that wish list as I come across additional books I'd like for my kids to listen to - a mixture of classics, fun, fantasy, Christian, popular fiction, and so on.  When I'm in need of a book for Matthew to listen to, I simply log into my wish list and download one from that list onto his ipod...or do a search on for whatever other book I might want to purchase with a credit.

Although $22.95 is not an insignificant monthly cost for two credits, for us it's an essential cost of h/schooling...and a far cheaper option than purchasing audio books in the bookstores.  What's great is that I have a library of books now that I have purchased through Seth is beginning to listen to the books that I previously purchased for Matthew with my audible credits.  So the books are now serving double purpose...and I'm sure that Lizzie is not far behind!

Speaking of Lizzie, of all of my kids, she is the most into books and being read to.  As much as my boys love being read to, she is simply bananas about it!  She also loves listening to audio books (and music), and she has begun working through the audio book collection we have on CDs.  Her vocabulary and grammar are really starting to show the impact of being read to so much.  I really wanted to buy her an ipod nano for Christmas, too, but she's just too young yet to be able to take care of it well.  I'm hoping that by next Christmas, knowing what to purchase for her is an easy decision!

I simply cannot read aloud enough to my kids.  I read to them every day, usually for well over an hour, and regularly for more than two hours/day.  It's one of the few things we do with great consistency.  But it's still not enough - either for them or for me.  And so they listen to audio books.  I simply cannot think of a better way to enhance vocabulary or build comprehension or enjoy literature than being read aloud to.

For example, here is a mostly-complete list of the books Matthew has heard read to him since the beginning of January.  This list does not include the books I've read to the three kids together...these are just the books I've read aloud to him or which he's listened to on this month.  I've asterisked his favourites, in case anyone reading here is in need of a good book for their child.
  • The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet (book 1 in the Secrets of Droon series), by Tony Abbott
  • Journey to the Volcano Palace (book 2 in the Secrets of Droon series), by Tony Abbott
  • The Mysterious Island (book 3 in the Secrets of Droon series), by Tony Abbott
  • City in the Clouds (book 4 in the Secrets of Droon series), by Tony Abbott
  • The Great Ice Battle (book 5 in the Secrets of Droon series), by Tony Abbott
  • The Sleeping Giant of Goll (book 6 in the Secrets of Droon series), by Tony Abbott
  • * Down Gilead Lane, Seasons 10, 11, and 12.
  • * Navigating Early, By Clare Vanderpool
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty McDonald
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White
  • * Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • * The Door in the Dragon's Throat, by Frank E. Peretti (book 1 in The Cooper Kids series)
  • * The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
  • * The Field Guide (book 1 in The Spiderwick Chronicles series) by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
  • The Seeing Stone (book 2 in The Spiderwick Chronicles series) by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
  • Lucinda's Secret (book 3 in The Spiderwick Chronicles series) by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
  • The Ironwood Tree (book 4 in The Spiderwick Chronicles series) by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
  • The Wrath of Mulgarath (book 5 in The Spiderwick Chronicles series) by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
Books Currently in Progress for Matthew:
  • Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis
  • Escape from the Island of Acquarius, by Frank Peretti (book 2 in The Cooper Kid series)
  • Pointe Blank, by Anthony Horowitz
Audiobooks have been one of the most significant parts of the learning journey in our household.  I frankly can't imagine how we'd h/school without them!

It's 10:15 am right now.  Moments ago I asked the kids to go collect their books and head to our library because I was going to read.  Matthew's comment (in a slightly whiny tone):  "It's about time we're ready to read, Mom.  We need to read more books and more often."  Man, it's never enough!


  1. Hi Ruth,
    I really should look into this audiobook thing - I read out loud for over 5 hours yesterday and I'm not getting any knitting done! Nice to see your face in passing on Saturday and looking forward to getting together again sometime soon.

    1. Five hours - that's a marathon! I've rarely done THAT much out loud reading in a day.

      But yeah, I'd really encourage you to look further into audiobook'll save your voice while still enabling your kids to hear great stuff being read out loud!

      I remember from a h/school conference a few years ago the keynote speaker (a linguist who was h/schooling 5 kids with his wife) said that research was clear that the single best way to enhance our kids' language, comprehension, vocab, and love of literature was hearing a minimum of 2 hours' out loud reading a day (in addition to what they read for themselves). I thought that was unattainable, but then he also included audio books in that total and I knew we were laughin'!

      Anyway, gotta run. Have a great day, Tammy.