Written by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy.
I love to read, and so far (knock on wood) we seem to be raising kids who love to read as well. Despite my love of reading actual paper books for myself, to my kids, and with my kids, over the past few years I’ve come to rely heavily on audiobooks in our homeschool.
We have four kids at four different grade levels, and using audiobooks helps preserve my voice (especially during spring allergy season) and my sanity (all the year round) when this introvert needs a break from the noise noise noise noise.
Aside from the obvious convenience factor of audiobooks, they bring a richness and depth to our literary experience that we couldn’t get any other way.
These are our favorite (obvious and not-so-obvious) ways we use audiobooks in our homeschool:
1. Story of the World. We use Susan Wise Bauer’s history curriculum, but the way we used it changed when I discovered the audio recordings. Three of my kids are covering the same Story of the World material right now.
With the audio version, they can listen to it all at the same time; the weaker readers can still learn the material without me having to read out loud.
2. Read-alouds. I read aloud to my kids every day—especially my preschooler—but their interest in good books lasts longer than my voice. Audiobooks let the story continue even when my voice (or my nerves) are shot.
3. Reinforcement. My older kids are starting to read some tough books for their literature classes. We’ve begun using audiobooks to reinforce the content after they’ve read the physical book themselves.
They already know the basic arc of the story, and the audio version—as with any second read-through—solidifies new vocabulary words and gives them a deeper understanding of the material.
4. Bring a story to life. Great audiobook performances make a story leap off the page in a way that isn’t possible with the plain text. Our favorite audiobooks feature gripping narration, authentic accents, singing, even fiddle music.
5. Early readers. My second grader is transitioning from simple books to beefier chapter books. She wants to read independently but she isn’t quite ready. Audiobooks are smoothing her way, serving as her training wheels.
She reads with her eyes while she listens with her ears, and the audiobook fills any gaps in her pronunciation or understanding.
hot tip: put your phone in a bowl or mug with the speakers facing down to amplify the sound
Amazon’s Whispersync for voice makes this especially easy (if you have the right device, sigh).
With their immersion reading feature, you can read and listen simultaneously with real-time highlighting. (If you don’t have the right device, at least Whispersync lets you get great deals on audiobooks.)
6. Fidgety kids. If your student can’t sit still, audiobooks make it possible for them to learn while they’re literally bouncing around the room. Restless kids can knead silly putty or stack legos (or even fold the laundry) while they’re listening to the story.
7. Mom gets to listen, too. I first got interested in audiobooks for my own sake, not my kids’ sake: I love a good story as much as they do! Audiobooks let me enjoy the listening experience with my kids instead of always being the one to provide it.
Note: If you’re a newbie to audiobooks, here’s a beginner’s guide to where to find them, how to listen, and what titles to start with.
Do you use audiobooks in your homeschool? I’d love to hear your favorite tips, tricks, and titles in comments.