How to use audiobooks in your homeschool

Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool

I‘d love to say that it began with something sophisticated.

Like Shakespeare, perhaps, or The Iliad.

But in all honesty, Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame started it.

You see, I’ve always been a paper-devotee when it comes to reading. Suspicious upon the release of the first Kindles, I convinced myself that I could never get into electronic reading. What a laugh that now, several years later, I religiously carry my Kindle everywhere.

What can I say? I LOVE having 500 books in my purse at all times!

Kindle reading is still reading, though. You know, with your eyes. Audiobooks are a completely different story–perfect for auditory learners, of which I have one. I keep those ears of his stocked up with good listening/reading material.

But I am a VISUAL learner. (Or so I thought.)

In spite of this fact, when Lauren Graham’s new autobiography came out last year, I thought it would be fun to hear her read the book herself. So I bought the audio version. I was right; it was beautifully-written and hysterical!

Not only did I laugh out loud, I also got some of my best writing advice from Lauren’s book–advice I’m convinced I’ll go on to use for years.

I found myself going for more walks so I could listen to/read her book, looking forward to errands in the car so I could listen, getting my earbuds out while working in the kitchen so I could listen. I even found myself not minding so much when I would have a sleepless night; I’d just pop in my earbuds and read until I felt tired again.

And before long, wow! I had finished the whole book, and loved every minute .

I suddenly realized that by reading with my ears as well as my eyes I had doubled my typical reading time. (Insert happy dance here.)

Suddenly our Audible subscription, which I had started for my son, became a little gift for me, too.

Check out all the extra titles I’ve read through my ears since then:

Thinking of all these hours read makes me giddy. On top of my own personal (visual) reading as well as reading aloud to the kids, I’m up to 51 books so far this year!

One of my other favorite parts of listening to my own books is that if my kids want or need to go somewhere I can say, “Sure, I’ll take you to your piano lesson, as long as I can listen to my book on the way.”

The sneaky truth is that they’ll listen as well, which is how I got my tweens and teens into Pride and Prejudice this summer. This is one of my highly recommended covert homeschooling mom moves!

On making your money go farther with Audible:

There’s a trick to good audiobooks, and it took some research and time to figure it out. Here’s what I’ve learned: It all comes down to the narrator.

That’s why sources like LibriVox and others that offer free audiobooks can be either a huge hit or a huge miss.

Our $15/month Audible subscription buys us one “credit” each month, which usually equals one title. I didn’t think that sounded like much until I started to understand how to use it. I discovered that our “credits” were perfect for long or recently published books with high price tags.

Here are a few of my top recommendations to get with an Audible subscription for your kids:

Being a fan of classic literature has a lot of benefits, though, and one of them is that Audible regularly offers deals on the classics–allowing you to snap them up for just a dollar or two.

That means you don’t need to use–or even have–an Audible subscription to buy these, allowing you to grow your audio library inexpensively.

Find the full collection of classics here and just click “add audible narration” to get both the Kindle ebook & the audiobook with an amazing discount!

I started posting these deals on my Facebook page, which is how I discovered that you guys are crazy about audiobooks as well!

How to Download and Listen:

If you have an Amazon account, you can easily buy audiobooks through Audible. All you need to do is download the FREE Audible app to your chosen device. (Yes, this will still work even if you don’t have an Audible subscription!)

When you buy an audiobook via Amazon, it will appear like magic in your Audible app’s “library” whenever you’re next online and refresh it. You can then tap to download a book–meaning you can take your book on the go and “carschool” anytime!

Here’s a screenshot of the app opened on my phone:

We have Bluetooth in our van, which means the sound comes out of our van’s speakers. But in my husband’s car I use a cord to connect my phone to his speaker system instead. When we’re at home, my auditory learner will often take an old phone stocked up with audiobooks to his room to listen.

If we’re trying to listen all together at the dining table, we do have fancy speakers we can use, but in all honesty I usually just grab an empty mug from the kitchen cabinet and stick my phone in it on the table–it magnifies the sound beautifully!


It’s official: I’m hopelessly and happily addicted to audiobooks and there’s no going back! A special thanks to Lauren Graham for kicking off my new obsession. 😉

I still share current audio book deals on my Facebook page if you’d like to follow me there!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get commissions for purchases made through them without any extra cost to you. Thanks for your support of Simple Homeschool!




















About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. I’m going to have to read Lauren Graham’s book! I’m a huge Gilmore girls fan, well, at least through season 4 til Rori went a little off the tracks. We love audiobooks and this is such a helpful guide to how to get the most out of your subscription. My daughter gobbles them up! I can’t keep her in audiobooks – there aren’t enough in the library. I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get the subscription. Thanks for posting, Jamie!
    June’s latest post: For the Mom Who Wants to Quit Homeschooling

  2. I, too am an audio book junkie. One of the coolest things in audible, besides the classics, is “the great courses”. These are college lectures done by professors from schools such as oxford, who have a skill at storytelling about almost anything. Since my kids were learning about William the conqueror, we purchased the course, “1066, the year thst changed everything”. Wed listen in the car wherever we went and my children and i learned so much more about that time frame, about William the conqueror and even our own heritage. Another course about mideival history talked about monastecism and, specifically, a monk that sat on a pillar and prayed for 47 yrs. This prompted a wonderful discussion with my 12 yr old about prayer when she pointed out “what could’ve he been praying about?. He didn’t associate with any other people” I was amazed at her query being that she doesn’t normally think like this or, at least, vocalize her thoughts like yhis, normally. This wad so much fun and we had such a great laugh and discussion abiut minks on pillars.The books we listen to in the car have been great discussion starters. I think that $15 a mo. Is so worth it.

  3. Bethany Thorsness says:

    My library also offers audio books that can be checked out online for free! Just another option for fellow audio book lovers 😉

  4. Your timing couldn’t be better! I have been wanting to try audible for so long and keep bringing it up this week even! 🙂 You just gave me exactly what I needed ( a little clearer explanation of what it is and how it works!) so I’m gonna start today. So excited. I’ll be sharing this on social media and my blog this week too as I’m doing a post tomorrow about recent favorite books. 🙂 Thank you!!

    • Oh I’m so glad it was helpful, Monica! Also I saw your question on FB: The current deals do make it a great time to snap up many titles without a subscription. For me, I want a subscription because the titles we sometimes want or need are not ones that are on sale, but are cheaper to get with a subscription instead. That means they would cost over $15 to buy straight out, meaning we save by using our subscription. Hope that helps!

  5. Rebecca Brasher says:

    I’ve fallen hard for audio books this year too. Instead of having to choose between reading and cleaning my house (in which reading almost always wins), I’m able to “read” and clean/cook dinner/do laundry/etc. I love it. One of my favorites has been My Lady Jane. The narration is hilarious! I’ll also listen to anything narrated by John Lee, Edward Hermann, or Caroline Lee. They could probably read the dictionary and I’d listen to it.

  6. I’ve embraced audiobooks within the last couple of years, and it has been so good for our family. The Alchemist has been one of my favorite books for almost 20 years; Jeremy Irons’ reading has been a real treat. I think our absolute favorite is David Tennant reading the Train/Dragons series – WOW AT ALL THE VOICES. His talent combined with training really comes through.

  7. First of alll, because of your posts I have tried and purchased many new audible books and many Kindle selections. I’ve also immediately gone to my library to search their audio selections for some you have mentioned.
    I have 2 questions: 1) Do you know how to delete Audible titles permanently? For some reason, we had two titles we got free and now I can’t remove them. 2) Is there a way to view Amazon titles for Audible purchase and see the actual price even when you are NOT an Audible member? When I click on the links to view the Audible deals you mention, it often says it’s $0.00 with your new Audible subscription. I just want to see the price and I’m not sure if there is an easy fix for that?
    Again, thanks for sharing titles so regularly! I became a fan of Audible books and audio books from the library about a year ago when I realized that I could “read” a book while working on laundry and dishes! It’s fantastic!!!

    • I wonder the same thing. We have prime, and audible, but not the Unlimited. ??? Can we still download them for free? If so, can you screenshot & walk us through?

      • Yes, Heather, you don’t need Kindle Unlimited for this. You just “buy” the Kindle ebook for free and select the option to “add the Audible book” before you click the “buy now” button. Hope that helps!

  8. We love audible too! Have your kids listened to any of the Amazons and Swallows series? My little people love them, and they are usually expensive, $15ish. They are all $4 right now and with twelve books in the series you might want to grab one to try! The first book “swallows and amazons” is a must, “winter holidays” is also a favorite. But if your kids love a great book even if it takes a lot of patience to develop, these are a treat.

  9. I’m up to about 75 audio books read over the past 1.75 years and I’m totally converted! I especially love listening to British/Australian/Irish/Scottish literature because then I get all sorts of amazing accents too. And I listened through the full Harry Potter series last year and that narration is phenomenal! I get all my audio books for free from my library via the Overdrive app. I’m super grateful for that!
    Laura’s latest post: My essential sewing supplies

  10. Jamie, before I start downloading your entire list of classics (haha!), can you comment on the quality of the audible version narrators? I agree with Librivox, it’s hit or miss, mostly miss. The narrations do nothing to excite the readers. I don’t want to download a lot of audible books not knowing the quality. Thanks!

    • You can listen to a sample of each narrator before you buy the book, Anne! Just look on the Kindle page or book page on Amazon and you can hear an excerpt so you can decide for yourself. Hope that helps! My experience is that with Audible it can still be hit or miss, but it’s mostly hit! And every once in a while a miss. But you do have seven days to return Audible books if you change your mind as well, so that’s a plus!

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