Friday, April 1, 2016

April READER Time - The Beauty of Audio Books

The Beauty of Audio Books
Audio Books are amazing!!!  They are something my entire family has grown to love!  This month, I will share with you why we love using audio books, as well as the many benefits that come with them. 

Audio books give the pleasure of enjoying a story without the struggle.  Children are almost always ready for stories beyond their reading capabilities.  It seems a shame to hold them back to "See Jane run!", when they are ready for a storyline with more substance, like Black Beauty.  It has allowed my older children to enjoy books that would have otherwise been difficult to read.  My son listened to Johnny Tremain when he was in 5th grade.  He might have been able to read it on his own, but he gained so much from listening and not struggling with names or language that he's not familiar with. 

The use of Audio Books in homeschooling is indispensable!  What a freedom it has given me. . . . . and my voice!  Of course, I still read plenty to my children.  I have just found that using Audio Books has sped us up a little.  If I have to tend to my toddler while reading from Story of the World, I would most likely have to pause my reading as my eyes are diverted from the page.  But we can all comfortably sit and listen to Jim Weiss read our history lesson to us.  Even if I need to quietly move across the room and scoop up my toddler for some snuggles, all the while the reading doesn't need to stop!  If only all our lessons could be interruption-free!!!

Sometimes a book is just better presented as an audio - it gives it an element that may otherwise go missing.  What could be a great story gets placed in the donate pile or put back in the library bag, sometimes even before it's finished!  We have found this to be true for several books.  We recently had Madeleine Takes Command on our living history reading list.  I was feeling behind, so I thought I would grab it as an audio book - I am so glad I did!  I could never have done that story the justice that the narrator gave it.  The French accent was a delight to listen to, not too mention, I would have probably butchered several of those French words and stumbled over the language of the text.  Yet each day, the kids were content to listen to more than just one chapter, often asking for more!  And sure enough, we blazed through that story and got back on track with our read alouds.  And my husband was delighted to hear the account each evening of what was happening in the story.  The Door in the Wall is another book that can be a difficult read - even difficult to listen to.  I've heard of more than one family that did not like it at all.  However, we enjoyed the book as an audio - thereby forgoing the distracting element of trying to read some of that old English language that may have come across as choppy and uninteresting, and instead listening to it being read smoothly giving the story the character that it was due. 

Characters come to life listening to these stories over and again.  Audio books get used so often by my kids in their free time or at bedtime, that I never have buyers remorse.  I am so thrilled that my children are making trusted friends in the characters of good books.  Winnie the Pooh and his pals, Heather and Picket (Green Ember), Encyclopedia Brown, Hank the Cowdog, and Black Beauty are just a few of the voices that I hear coming from their rooms on a regular basis.  They dive into these stories over and over.  And so far, it hasn't gotten "old" for them yet.  I certainly haven't tired of hearing the kids play yet another audio while playing in their room or just before bed.  What a great way to end the day - off on an adventure with some good old friends!

With all these audio books being played each day, those listening skills are certainly getting exercised!  Which, I think, could never get too much exercise - Amen?  And I have recently learned that kids who struggle with Dyslexia, often will do better with auditory learning.  Now that I think about it, it seems logical to me that if you struggle to process things correctly from a visual aspect that you would prefer to learn audibly - lightbulb moment!  Learning this reinforced my desire for using audio books.  I especially like when the child is able to follow along with the book.  To slide that finger under the words on the page as the audio speaks the words into our ears allows us to use multiple senses at the same time.  This creates a connection in our brain that facilitates learning.  So while many think that listening to an audio takes away the opportunity to practice reading, the truth is it is actually giving us practice - practice with success!  Allowing those connections to be made correctly in the brain.

And now for the "what" and "how" of Audio Books: One of our favorite ways to enjoy audio books is on a Kindle Fire.  My children have all saved up their own money to buy one, and it's been a great asset to us.  We have filled them with books and audio books, along with a few games and videos for fun.  But the great thing is we can set up parental controls to limit the amount of time, and the appropriate time, for each child on games and videos. Sidenote: if you use Kindle FreeTime, it doesn't include audio books, but an Amazon representative recently told us that they were working to add audio books in that feature in a future update - Yeah! One thing I love is that our children all share an Amazon account, so what one buys can be shared by all!  That makes shopping nice and simple for me - I can add amazon gift cards to stockings, Easter baskets, birthday cards, etc. 

I wanted to share a quick list of our favorite audio books, so I enlisted the help of my kiddos in building that list.  Well, it didn't really turn out to be a quick list.  We just had too many favorites that had to be included!  Some were downloads from Amazon's Audible, some were CD's that came with books, others were audio books from the library.  We hope this list will add to your audio book enjoyment!
Chapter Books:
Picture Books:
Audio Dramas:

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