We spend a lot of time in the car most weeks - visiting friends and family, going into town for home school events, field trips, or even just for a change of scenery. And we don't go anywhere without stories on disk. As a homeschooling tool, and just as a really nice way to 'read', I think that audio books are highly underrated and under used - so I thought that I would share some of our favorites.
In the car right now:
The BFG by Roald Dalh from Harper Children's Audio - a great audio book - the language is silly and fun, and it is nice to have someone else stumbling through it. We are all looking forward to hearing the rest of it.
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop read by the author and a full cast - a perennial favorite that we have listed to many times over.
Black Jack the Pirate Cat by Catherine Kentridge
Ink Heart by Cornelia Funke read by Brandon Frasier
Anything by Jim Weiss at Great Hall Productions - Jim is a fabulous story teller, and really brings the stories to life. He creates a full cast of characters with his voice, and sticks to great literature and folk tales - The story of Robin Hood, Egyptian Myths, Classic Fairy Tales, American Classics, Tales from Near and Far, King Arthur and His Knights.....
BBC Radio Collection - another series that does a great job with the classics - Peter Pan, Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows......
BBC Production of Horrible Histories - a fun way to get into some weird and wonderful bits of history, but I would suggest listening to it yourself first before playing it for younger kids.
The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer read by Jim Weiss - a read-aloud history series (available from Great Hall Productions)
Where to find them:
*Libraries often carry a (small) selection of audio books, but our local one has been great at searching out titles from other branches and bringing them in for us. You can also access them via inter-library loan, or request that your local branch add more to their collection (we brought our wish list in a month or so ago and are waiting to see what they get!)
*Set up a trade circle within a group of friends or homeschoolers for those books that kids like to listen to only once or twice.
*We are always on the look out for audio books at garage sales, thrift stores, and on-line. They tend to be expensive new, but we have come across great deals now and then.
*Audio books are always on the kids' Holiday and Birthday lists, and family love it when the boys are so excited to talk to them about gifts that they have given.
*of course, our favorite book / story store has a great selection of audio books that you can order on-line. Definitely worth checking out.
Free (and not free) downloads:
With technology being what it is now, there are many great sites that allow you access to free downloads. Some of these are read by the author, others by professionals, and others by volunteers. They are worth checking out.
My Audio School provides recordings of classic books, radio theatre and historical radio for a fee of $14.99 / year
LibriVox free downloads of thousands of public domain titles
Books Should Be Free free downloads
Keep In Mind:
*Be sure to pick stories that you all are likely to enjoy. Listening to Bridge To Tarabithia by Katherine Paterson was a pleasure for me, too. I curse the day that our library brought in The Magic Treehouse Books on disk - ARRGGHHHHHH!!
*I find that my guys enjoy stories at a slightly harder level in audio books in the car than they do when I am reading aloud at home. I don't know if this is because they are a 'captive' audience, or if it has something to do with the motion of the car, but they loved hearing the BBC production of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe in the car at an age when it was a little too much for them at home.
*Look for unabridged recordings whenever possible to get the full story, as the author intended it.
*Figure out if your family prefers to hear stories read by a single reader, or with a cast of voices. There are lots of choices out there for both.
*Who is reading the story really does make a difference. Think about gender of the reader, tone of voice, expression, accent, whether or not there are songs or music mixed in with the telling of the story.
*As one last parent-to-parent note...you know when you have those days when you have no patience, energy or focus? Thrown the kids in the car, put on a story, pick up a coffee, and relax. I swear, everything will look better by the time you get home.