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:
- Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin (narrated by Andi Arndt, 8 hours)
- Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne LaMott (narrated by the author, 2 hours)
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (narrated by Jeremy Irons, 4 hours)
- At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon (narrated by John McDonough, 19 hours)
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (narrated by Rachel McAdams, 9 hours)
- The Jane Austen BBC Radio Drama Collection (full cast dramatization, 14 hours)
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (narrated by Barbara Caruso, 19 hours)
- Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart (narrated by Gwen Hughes, 5 hours)
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!
Photo by Gavin Whitner
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:
- Harry Potter titles
- Titles in the Redwall series (usually a subscription is best for this–but right now they’re all on sale!)
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of the Rings titles
- Eragon (Can you tell my son likes fantasy?!)
- The Adventure Collection (40 hours of listening!)
- A Child’s History of the World
- Try a subscription for 30 days free and get two free titles to keep
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.
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!
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