I was reading aloud to my children at breakfast this morning and one of my favorite things happened. As my son was munching on his cinnamon toast, the plot built to a suspenseful climax. As I used my voice to express the tension of the moment, I happened to glance across the table. There sat my nine-year-old boy, as still as a statute, with mouth gaping and toast hanging from his fingertips, completely enthralled with what was happening in the story. I continued to read, but my heart smiled and shouted a huge “Gotcha!” He was hooked.
One of my favorite things about oral reading and audio books is the way that our minds engage while we listen to the story. The characters and settings come alive as we hear them being described, hear different character voices, sense the speed and tension changes of the plot and hold our breath until the climax comes to a conclusion. Although much of the same can be said for silent reading, it often seems that involving more of our senses allows us to imagine the story in a deeper way.
Because of our family’s ministry, we are on the road a lot. We have all come to love audio books. Often one of the first questions our children ask when we get in the car is “What story do we get to listen to this time?” Not only do these books help the time to pass quickly, they generate great family discussions, expose our children to people, situations and places outside of themselves and provide hours of fun and entertainment.
There are so many great resources available for audio books, I cannot even begin to name them all. However, I would like to share some of my favorite sources with you and encourage you to provide this style of book for your children. Whether it is at home or in the car, audio books can open up a whole new love of stories for your family.
- Your public library- We have enjoyed using this resource ever since the kids were little. From picture books to chapter books, your public library will have many options for you to choose from.
- Overdrive- This is a resource that is also available through your public library. I have used it with my kindle for a long time, but I just recently discovered that I can download audio chapter books onto my kindle too. This has been great for long trips!
- Zeezok.com – We offer many of our books in audio format (both CD and MP3), including the Great Musicians Series and The Shining Sword. One great way to use these (especially with a reluctant reader) is to allow them to follow along in the books as they listen.
- librivox.org – This is my husband’s favorite source for audio books. Although there is a fee for some of the books offered on this site, all public domain books are free. Many of the wonderful classics are available to download.