Tag Archives: audiobooks

Audiobooks as a Literacy Tool

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.Jim Trelease, author of The Read Alound Handbook

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The Benefits of Reading Aloud

When I attended college back in the 1990’s, we elementary education majors got an earful about the 1985 findings of the U.S. Department of Education’s Commission on Reading. Study after study was telling us that reading to children is one of the very best ways to help children become successful readers.

That consensus hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. It’s a philosophy that was pushed heavily in the schools where I worked. When I stopped teaching to raise a family and it became apparent that two of my kids struggled with varying degrees of dyslexia, I read widely on the subject. Guess what the experts recommended? Reading aloud in a variety of formats: teachers reading to students, students reading to teachers, teachers reading chorally with their students, students reading chorally with other students, students performing practiced text aloud to an audience, students recording practiced text, etc, etc, etc.

brainAgain and again studies suggest that listening provides many of the same benefits as reading. And it seems that taking in language audibly and visually creates connections within different parts of the brain that aid a variety of reading skills: decoding, comprehension, increased vocabulary, fluency, word recognition…

I opted to homeschool my low readers so I could impliment these suggestions liberally throughout the school day and across the curriculum. It was a wise decision. Though they aren’t quite up to grade level, their proficiency has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years.

Audiobooks: A Practical Solution

But very few teachers have a 1:2 teacher to student ratio. And parents may not have time to read aloud as much as they would like to. Let me suggest a very practical solution: audiobooks.

Many teachers I know actually record themselves reading classroom books and provide their students with MP3 players so they can listen while reading along. I did this with my boys. It’s a great way for kids to practice reading without direct help. But pre-recording all those books takes a lot of time. And the quality? Um… Let’s just say listening to professional voice artists is far more enjoyable. Reading along can be really FUN!

But aren’t audiobooks expensive?

They don’t have to be! If you buy an ebook on Amazon, the audiobook is often available for a ridiculously low price. For example, the audiobook for The Candle Star lists on Amazon for $14.95. But if you purchase the ebook for 99 cents, you have the option of adding the audiobook for another $1.99. That is a significant savings! Just look for “Add Audible narration” on the page listing.

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I don’t know how to listen to an audiobook.

No problem. You can turn any device you own into an audiobook player (Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, Android phone, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, Android tablets, even your PC or MP3 player). Just download the appropriate app and bingo! You’re listening.

If you’re still not certain you want to jump onboard the audio bandwagon, let me suggest that audiobooks are absolutely AWESOME for family road trips. (They’re not bad for work commutes, lawn mowing, cooking, or other brain-free, hands-busy moments either.)

We have a growing selection of kid-friendly audibooks here on Emblazon, often for dirt cheap through Amazon’s narration option. Now that you know about that little secret, you can watch for it on thousands of Amazon titles.

Audiobooks should never replace the special one-on-one time a parent and child share reading books together. But they’re an effective, practical, and inexpensive option for all those other “listenable” moments. Pick one out to enjoy with your family today.

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Michelle Isenhoff is a former teacher, current homeschool mom, and reviewer on her award-winning children’s lit blog, Bookworm Blather. Listen to samples of her audibooks here.

 

Audiobooks—Oh, how I love thee

I want to start this post of by saying I LOVE audiobooks. I love them so much I gave up a publishing contract with a good publisher over my audiobook rights. As some might know I work full time as a freelance illustrator and cover designer. Drawing can take up a lot of time throughout the day. Instead of listening to music, I listen to books. I average about 3 audiobooks a week. They help me get through my day and get through my “to be read list”. Audiobooks make up at least 90% of my day to day reading. The majority of them are middle-grade books.

Why am I such a lover of audiobooks? Check out this list below to find out. There are many benefits from reading an audiobook. These are just a few:

  • Storytelling out loud goes back to the beginning of time. It is how we all used to cute-15719“read” a story. The love of the spoken word grew into all sorts of other forms of entertainment: readings, theater, and movies. When we listen to an audiobook we are embracing that love that is fused in our very makeup.
  • Listening to books can actually help your reading levels. Listening to how words are pronounced and how sentences are spoken aloud can actually strengthen your reading. This is why parents are encouraged by doctors to read aloud to their children at least twenty minutes a day.
  • Most narrators have experience in the theater and they showcase that during their productions of audiobooks. Narrators diversify the books by giving different voices to each of the characters and making the senses more real and gripping. I remember my first time listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, read by Jim Dale. It was fantastic! I had read that book probably half a dozen times before listening to the audiobook. To be honest, I never enjoyed it as much as I did when Jim Dale read it to me. I really believe that it also promotes literacy to children and gets them excited to read on their own.read-316507
  • Audiobooks are readily available. Most libraries carry them, and with companies like iTunes and Audible, audiobooks are at our figure tips. This is particularly nice because lots of teachers encourage kids to listen to the audiobook as they follow along in the print version. This too helps advance reading levels.
  • Piggybacking on reading along with audiobook I’d like to share a little about Amazon’s Whispersync technology. You can purchase an eBook from Amazon and then get the audiobook (also at a discounted price of normally $1.99) and then you can listen to the book as you read on your kindle. It’s quite fascinating. Each word highlights as the narrator reads along. I think this is a marvelous tool for those that want to advance their reading skills, especially kids.

51JwCnlVzJL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_Did you know that many of the Emblazon authors have audiobooks available? I just found this out myself. They have all been added to my “listening list”. The few that I have had the opportunity to let my ears devour have been sensational. They took me right into another world and kept me entertained up until the very end. Like all good books they left me with a linger of that world still on my mind.

I invite you to listen to an audiobook. If you never have, oh what a treat you are in for. If you have before keep doing it. If your first experience wasn’t so good. Try again. Most people want to tackle an audiobook by listening to something brain challenging like War and Peace. Not that it isn’t a great book, but it might not be your best audiobook “first”. Make your “first” be a middle-grade book…seriously. You will have fun. You will laugh. You will cry. You will become a fan of audiobooks for a lifetime.

List of audiobooks by Emblazoner authors:

 Some of my “recent” favs to give a listen:

Let me know how your audiobook experiences are going. I love to hear what others think of audiobooks. If you need more suggestions just let me know I have a wickedly long list of favorite audiobooks. My top favorite right now: The Dream Keeper Chronicles books 1 and 2 (I know, I know those are my books. But I still love them). Now go listen to a book!