Tag Archives: audio books

What We’re Reading Wednesday: Installment #4

23 Apr

What We're Reading WEDNESDAYS

Here’s our 4th installment of What We’re Reading Wednesday! Hope this gives you some great books to find at your library or buy for your home! To give you some encouragement, we’ve had a busy couple of weeks and not been able to read as much as I’d like or had hoped. And instead of beating myself up about it, I just realize…that’s reality! ūüôā (See, I told you I don’t have it all together!!! ūüôā ) Tomorrow is a new day, so we’ll start again then. ¬†So, if you still have a pile of unread library books (like I do), give yourself grace and start again tomorrow. ūüôā

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Animalia (by Graeme Base)–This is a fabulous alphabet book filled with alliteration! The book goes through all 26 letters, selects an animal to correspond with each letter, and describes each animal with hilarious alliterative adjectives. If you are studying the alphabet, alliteration, or animals, this is a great book to jump into! I found it thanks to Honey For A Child’s Heart.

RRRalph (by Lois Ehlert)–This book was leftover from our ‘clearing the library bookshelves’ of Lois Ehlert’s books as mentioned in our last What We’re Reading Wednesday post. In classic Ehlert style, the book is filled with marvelous illustrations created and built out of the most imaginative pieces of “stuff” that you might find around your house. I read this to my 4 year old, and he asked me to read it to him¬†three¬†times in a row.¬†ūüôā Clearly, HE enjoyed this book!

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories and Fox in Socks¬†(by Dr. Seuss)–A faithful reader and friend, Lorie recommended that I look at the Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, so I quickly snagged it at the library. It’s a fascinating book if you’re a Dr. Seuss fan. It’s filled with seven short stories written by Dr. Seuss that were published in the 1950s but virtually “lost.” If you’ve read all of Dr. Seuss’s books, you’ll enjoy this “new” one. As we were perusing the Dr. Seuss section of the library, I came across Fox in Socks and realized that we’d never read the book. We have enjoyed the silly, spit-all-over-each-other-as-we-read tongue twisters. Much like Animalia above, it’s filled with excellent examples of alliteration. The literary device of alliteration came up in our phonics curriculum this week, so it was great fun to connect what they learned in phonics with Fox in Socks and Animalia.

The Beginner’s Bible-This was on son #2’s reading list for school (thanks to Sonlight!). He’s enjoyed reading it, and I can hardly stop him from reading the day’s “assignment.”

The Case of the Two Masked Robbers (by Lillian Hoban)-I picked this up for son #2 at the library. He’s eager to read “big” books, so I was hoping he could read this and feel confident that he had read a “big” book. He read this with me and his 2 brothers, and we all enjoyed it.

The Mystery of the Wild West Bandit ¬†(by Gertrude Chandler Warner)-If you’re read any of the previous What We’re Reading Wednesday posts, you’ll notice a theme–The Boxcar Children! My boys love¬†Boxcar Children–no secret. In this book, Henry, Benny, Violet and Jessie attend a Wild West Festival and stumble upon a mystery.

Tippy Lemmey¬†(by Patricia C. McKissack)-My oldest son is reading this book about a neighborhood dog, Tippy Lemmey, that is giving the neighborhood children¬†fits.¬†The story is set in the United States during the years of the Korean War. My son’s eyes lit up when he read “war in Korea” since we had just been learning about the Korean War in Classical Conversations! This book is a great read for a kiddo who loves dogs.

Our current Audio Books selections have consisted of:¬†Grimm’s Fairy Tales¬†and¬†Andersen’s Fairy Tales. I’ve been writing a lot recently about how much we LOVE audio books. ( If you missed the previous 3 posts that were a part of my Friday Favorites series, you can read them here, here, and here.) I’ve decided to include audio books that we’re “reading” in my What We’re Reading Wednesday posts.

It’s Wednesday–what are¬†YOU¬†reading?!?! Please comment below! Can’t wait to discover great books from you, my fabulous readers!

Friday Favorites: Favorite Places to find FREE Audio Books

11 Apr

FRIDAY Favorites

I’m wrapping up my last post about audio books today in my Friday Favorites series. In the previous 2 posts, I wrote about an apologetic for incorporating audio books into our children’s (and family’s!) lives and a laundry list of my boys’ favorite audio books¬†divided into three age ranges: Preschool, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary/Middle School. As promised, I am writing today about my favorite places to find FREE audio books.

Free Audio Book Resources

LibrivoxThis is an online resource that contains audio versions of public domain books. Anytime you see the phrase “public domain,” it is safe to assume that these books are¬†old¬†and the majority of them are in the Classics genre. Copyright stays with a book for a specific length of time, and once the said length of time has transpired the book becomes “public domain.” ¬†Public domain books, therefore, can be used as you like. photo 1
On Librivox’s website you can search through-literally-hundreds of¬†free¬†audio books. Once your selection is made, you can simply listen (aka “live stream”) to the audio files via Librivox’s website or download the files to your computer or iTunes.¬†Librivox’s website contains detailed, “how-to” instructions¬† for downloading the audio book files. Once downloaded onto your computer or iTunes, you can burn the audio book onto cds and enjoy in your car, or your child can use the CDs in his/her room at naptime/restime. By downloading to iTunes, you can use an MP3 player/iPod/iPad/iPhone to listen to the audio books. I especially enjoy having this audio book-on-my-iPod option for exercising. I listened to Stepping Heavenward (by Elizabeth Prentiss) thanks to Librivox, and it was great motivation for exercise. I only permitted myself to listen to the book while exercising. I was so enthralled and drawn in by the book that I easily made exercise a priority because I wanted to listen to the next chapter! ūüôā

There is an expansive list of genres available on Librovox: Children’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Poetry, ¬†just to name a few. Best of all–the books are FREE! (I love free!!!)

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Books Should Be FreeThis is another website similar in concept, access and functionality as Librivox. In fact, some of Books Should Be Free audio books are accessed via Librivox. There are a few distinctions to note on Books Should Be Free. This website makes available audio and eBook versions of books. If an eBook version of a book is available (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, .pdf) in addition to an audio book version, it will be indicated on the specific page dedicated to the book. If your kiddo enjoys following along in the Kindle version of the book while he/she listens to the audio book version, Books Should Be Free will be a tremendous resource for you! you can download both audio and eBook versions from the same page!

Another distinction with Books Should Be Free boasts itself as “a primarily visual browsing experience.” This evidences itself when perusing through their website. Instead of listing book titles in alphabetical order with pages of text, text, text to sort through, Books Should Be Free includes a photo of each book’s cover. The visual images of the books make navigating through their website simpler. Searching for a specific book becomes less of a wild-goose chase filled with frustration and more of an attainable goal with a happy ending.

Books Should Be Free mirrors Librivox in that you have the option to listen to the audio book online via live streaming or to download it to your computer, iTunes (including via Podcasts), or MP3 player.

Library–Don’t forget one of the most accessible places for FREE audio books is your local library. Our library’s children’s section has a vast expanse of audio books available for checkout. At any given moment, you’ll likely find 3 or 4 different audio books from our library in our home. All 3 of my boys (currently ages 8, 6, and 4) usually have about an hour of rest time each day in their rooms (and consequently, me, too! Woot!). The boys LOVE this time of day because 99.9 % of the time this one hour of rest includes an audio book! Another plus, thanks to audio books, is that they rarely complain about rest time; they’re eager to listen to the next chapters in their current audio book!

If your library has a limited, small, or non-existent audio book collection, don’t be discouraged! Talk to your librarian! You may have these options:

  • Audio Book downloads via your library’s website–With advances in technology, many libraries are expanding their online access for digital and audio versions of books. Through our library’s website, I can download audio books from my library’s collection to iTunes for a specified length of time.
  • Petition for audio books to be purchased–Most libraries add to their collection each year. If your library’s audio book section is less than ideal, communicate your desire to see their audio book collection expanded. Most libraries are eager to hear input from their patrons.
  • Make Interlibrary loan your BFF–Just hearing the words “interlibrary loan” (ILL) makes me think of my college library. ILL¬†is a program allowing a library patron to borrow a book that is unavailable at his/her library from a partnering library. I was continually ILL-ing books during my undergrad and graduate years. I never thought of a local library having ILL; I had only associated it with college libraries. However, when my quest to find a classic, well-loved children’s book at our local library left me striking out, I mentioned this to the librarian, and she suggested using interlibrary loan. I gladly obliged. (As a note of encouragement to the previous bullet regarding suggesting books to your librarian, I noticed several months later that the book I borrowed via ILL had been ordered and added to our library!) Your librarian can assist you with the interlibrary loan process at your local library.

So, now that I’ve encouraged you to make audio book listening a part of your life and provided resources where they can be accessed for FREE, what will be your or your kiddos’ first/next audio book?!?!? If you have any suggestions to share with Suzanne Shares leaders, please comment and include them below!

Thanks for stopping by for today’s Friday Favorites!


Friday Favorites: Our Boys’ Most Beloved Audio Books

4 Apr

FRIDAY Favorites

This is the 2nd in a series of 3 posts about Audio Books and Children. See the other two posts here and here.

I had GREAT feed back from last week’s Friday Favorites post about Audiobooks and Children. Several of you indicated your shared love of audio books while others expressed excitement about incorporating audio books into your family life and/or home school. I was so encouraged that you guys were encouraged! A few of you contacted me and asked ¬†for my family’s favorite audio books. I thought that topic would be a great follow up to last week’s post. In next week’s Friday Favorites post, I will share about my favorite places to find FREE audio books because, let’s be honest, these bad boys aren’t cheap!

In the list below, I have included some of our favorite audio books, and I have divided them into 3 categories–Preschool & Younger, Lower Elementary School and¬†Upper Elementary School/Middle School Children. I also have included some pointers on tracking down quality audio books for the kiddos in your life. Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully, it will give you some initial direction for integrating audio books into your life and the lives of your children!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Preschool and Younger
Brown Bear & Friends (by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle)-When our youngest son was 3,  not to be outdone by his older brothers and their audio book-listening-coolness, HE decided that he wanted an audio book for himself. I was excited to find the Brown Bear & Friends (read by Gwyneth Paltrow, I might add) for his listening enjoyment. This set contains Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, which are wonderful classic books for preschoolers. We had read these books to him before, and he enjoyed hearing them on his cd player in his room. (Mimicking his older brothers brought him much joy.) He listened to this one cd over and over and over and over. 

Children’s Bible on cd-I have written previously about Children’s Bibles that we love. ¬†The Word and Song Bible on cd¬†was our family’s first introduction to audio books, and it had a dramatic impact on our family (See last week’s Friday Favorites to read how.) If you have a favorite Children’s Bible that your preschooler enjoys, see if it has an accompanying audio cd. Your child can listen to it, hold the Bible and “read” it simultaneously. Two of our favorites, The Big Picture Story Bible (Book with CD) and The Jesus Storybook Bible (with cd) both have accompanying audio cds. Obviously, Children’s Bibles on cd can be used with your grade school children as well. I wanted to highlight it in the Preschool category because that was when we first introduced them and found great benefits from doing so at a young age.

Just a side note that a preschooler won’t be able to follow along with the Bible’s text, word for word, and that’s okay! The simple action of sitting down with a book and mimicking what he/she has seen you do with a book–observing pictures, turning pages–is a step forward in reading readiness.

Lower Elementary School Children
Frog and Toad Audio CD (by Arnold Lobel)-If your child hasn’t met Frog and Toad,¬†please¬†introduce them. My boys¬†love, love, love¬†Frog and Toad, so I was delighted to find the audio book at our local library. I loved hearing son #2 cackle like a giggly girl while he was listening to it; I couldn’t resist walking back and forth outside his bedroom to hear those sweet giggles. I quickly tracked down another Arnold Lobel Audio Collection CD¬†with other Lobel classics, Owl at Home and Uncle Elephant, and it solicited the same bellows of laughter. Score for Mom!

The Boxcar Children (by Gertrude Chandler Warner)-We were driving around town today running errands and listening to the Boxcar Children-Henry, Benny, Jessie, and Violet-solve their latest mystery. I did not read this series as a child but read it to my sons after the recommendation of a friend. My boys love the¬†mystery¬†element of each book, and they love to try to out sleuth Henry, Benny, Jessie, and Violet by solving the mystery first. This series is marvelously wholesome and pure. I love that my boys can’t get enough of The Boxcar Children!image

Upper Elementary School/Middle School Children
The Chronicles of Narnia (by C.S. Lewis)-Our oldest 2 boys received this audio book set for Christmas from their grandparents when they were 4 and 2. Clearly, it was a little too old for them at the time; they were a little scared by Aslan’s roar. (We had asked my parents to buy it for them and didn’t think about them being a wee bit young. Just call us “eager beaver” parents! ha!) My boys are older now, and they thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of the books in the Narnia series. Sadly, it looks like the complete Narnia series is out of print, but you can buy the books individually. YAY!

The Narnia set that we have is from the Focus on the Family Radio Theater audio books¬†series. I¬†love, love, love¬†the audio books in this series because they are¬†radio dramas, which means actors and actresses play the characters in the story and dramatize the telling of the story. The book is performed rather than read verbatim by a lone narrator. This Focus on the Family series is excellent! We have A Christmas Carol ¬†in the same series as well. The series also includes The Hiding Place¬†(the story of Corrie Ten Boom), Anne of Green Gables , and the story of Squanto¬†(which is one our favorite stories!) and many others! I can’t say enough good about these audio books!

Story of the World-Volumes 1-4 (by Susan Wise Bauer)-I mentioned in last Friday’s post that we started out using Story of the World as our history curriculum. However, as staple school subjects like Math, Phonics, Reading and English Grammar began requiring more of our family’s homeschool day, I began feeling my personal limitations and began to consider stopping our history studies. However, when I discovered Story of the World audio books, my boys were able to listen individually to the chapter readings and continue their studies. This curriculum covers history from the ancient civilizations to fall of the USSR. The title¬†Story¬†of the World¬†says it all; it is written in the narrative form and truly reads (or listens!) like a story. It has given our sons a breadth and depth overview and understanding of history. I truly marvel at all they’ve learned through these audio books! They tell me little history tidbits and factoids all the time. I have no idea where they’ve learned it, so I’ll ask them, “Where did you learn that?!?!” Their answer always ¬†seems to be the same, “Story of the World, Mom.” (There might be a hint of sarcasm when they answer!)

Finding Beloved Audio books
These audio books above are ones that we enjoyed. Some were so loved that we bought them! How did we stumble upon these? How can you find quality audio books? Here are a few tips:

1) Choose books that your child already knows, has read, or loves-The repetition of hearing a book over and over and over again is beneficial for your child. If your child is a preschooler, just know that is typical and expected for children that age. (Yes, you may scream at hearing Brown Bear, Brown Bear fifty times, but remind yourself that it is good for your kiddo and so worth it!) Let your child have fun with literature!

2) Follow your favorite author-Does your child like a particular author? Find audio books for the author’s works and introduce them to your child in audio book format. Need new authors? Use Honey For A Child’s Heart as a resource for discovering new ones.

3) Introduce classics-My boys have “read”¬†way more classics than I have, and we have audio books to thank for that. Our family usually has one or two “read aloud” books going on at a time. However, if I depended on “read aloud” time alone to introduce them to the classics, we will run out of time. This is where audio books have become our BFFs. My boys have “read” books like Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Huck Finn, Black Beauty and many, many more thanks to audio books. Yes, the books in paperback might be 400+ pages, and no, my boys would not be able to sit through those as a “read aloud.” However, they can easily tackle them in audio book format. So, don’t be afraid to “stretch” them (and yourself!) with the audio book versions of classic, stood-the-test-of-time literature; they can handle it and will love it!

4) Ask for recommendations from others-Many of the books that we’ve stumbled upon were highly recommended from dear friends. Do you have a friend who loves books (as much as I do?!?!)? Ask him/her for a list of favorites. Do you know the children’s librarian at your local library? If not, get to know him/her by name. When I am “stuck” and don’t know which book to throw in my book bag, I stalk¬†¬†track¬†down the children’s librarian at our library. I guarantee he/she will have a few (or a few¬†hundred)¬†endorsements for you!

Have fun introducing your children to quality literature!

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Friday Favorites: Audio Books For Children

28 Mar

FRIDAY Favorites

This is the 1st post in a series about Audio Books and children. See the last two posts here and here.


When our oldest son was about three, my husband and I were on a mission to find an age-appropriate children’s Bible. Our hunt led us to many favorite children’s Bibles, but one, in particular, left an imprint on our family that we weren’t anticipating.

I still remember the day that we were in our local bookstore. Our beloved friend worked there, and we had solicited him for our mission. (He chose to accept it. ūüôā ) We were desirous of a children’s Bible that had an accompanying set of CDs with it. This book¬†introduced to me the idea of having a child listen to the Bible while following along in his/her corresponding paper copy. So, the mission commenced, and our friend directed us to¬†The Word & Song Children’s Bible¬†, which had a Bible and coordinating cds. We immediately bought the Bible and cds and began letting our son listen to them during afternoon nap time and at bed time.

To say that my husband and I were flabbergasted as we discovered how much of the Bible our son was comprehending would be….an understatement. For example, one morning he wakes us up, all decked out in warrior fashion with his homemade weapon, which consisted of a cell phone charger cord tied around a yard stick. “Dad, I need to kill the people who don’t worship God.” My husband, the sage that he is, begins explaining to our son why, according to Scripture, it is wrong to kill other human beings. Our son quickly retorts, “But Dad, God had to destroy the Edomites because they didn’t worship Him.”

My husband knew that our son was referring to the story from the Minor Prophet book, Obadiah. Who had been teaching him stories from the Old Testament?!?!? It wasn’t us, and it wasn’t his Sunday School teachers. After a few minutes of racking our brains, we remembered the Word and Song Bible cds. Yup, that was it; the culprit was the Bible cds. He had soaked up the story of Obadiah by listening to it on a cd. In that moment, we didn’t consciously vocalize the decision, but from then forward, we began using cds as a means of exposing our oldest son (and, now, all three of them) to literature.

I write often about books that we read aloud as part of school or together as a family. If it were up to me, I would read aloud to my boys¬†all day long.¬†However, the piles of laundry, mounds of dust bunnies, and stores of uncooked food in my fridge thwart my read-all-day plans. Sigh. Wish that I may, Super Mom, I am not. As we learned from our oldest son’s early years, audio books can be used to “read” to my sons, even when I am not able. As a result, audio books have become a significant medium in the life of our sons, and our entire family, frankly, whereby literature is introduced. So, today, for this edition of Friday Favorites, I share this family favorite, audio books, with you and why¬†we love them so much!

Audio books

Why I Love Using Audio Books With My Children

1) Audio books expose my sons to great stories that are above their reading level.

In the book,¬†The Core, by Classical Conversations founder Leigh Bortins, she recommends that children read consistently on three different levels: below, at, and above their reading level. One way that I have my boys “read” above their reading level is by listening to audio books. Of course, my heart’s desire is to read every book known to man to my sons, but time does not always permit that. Audio books have helped me stretch the amount of time each day that my boys are being “read to” above their reading level. The audio books that I select for them fall into that category 99.9% of the time. They could not independently¬†read the book they’re listening to, but they can easily comprehend it. An audio book gives them the opportunity to “read” classic literature now at ages 8, 6, and 4. They would have to wait 5-10 years to be able to read such books independently, but why make them wait that long when they are fully able to understand them now? Audio books assist significantly with this.

2) Audio books expand the “Mosley Homeschool” classroom.

Two years ago, we started¬†The Story of the World¬†as a history curriculum. With additional subjects that had to be completed and adding a second child to our homeschool “classroom,” the time that I had to read aloud our Story of the World chapters was diminishing. I checked out one set of the Story of the World audio books from our library, and my boys devoured it. They listened to the entire book in a week! This was the same book that was taking us months to read through together. I eventually bought all 4 volumes of Story of the World audio books, and my boys have listened to them multiple times. The audio books allowed my sons to independently take on a segment of their school, which freed ¬†me up to focus with them individually on the subjects that only I could teach. If you are a homeschooling family, perhaps an audio book is available with curriculum that you are using or one can be used in a strategic way with an existing subject that you are teaching.

3) Audio books increase fluency and vocabulary.

A dear friend is a public school teacher, and she introduced me to the Barnes and Noble Online Story time website, which has 16 books being read aloud with simultaneous video footage of the book. She used the website¬†in her classroom and was the first person to explain, from an educational perspective, the benefits of audio books. Audio books aid a child in increasing his/her fluency, which is the ability to smoothly, correctly read while simultaneously comprehending what he/she is reading. Audio books also expose a child to new vocabulary and introduces it within the context of a story, which increases his/her grasp of the new words. I, naively, assumed that audio books were handicapping my sons’ reading ability when in actuality they work just the opposite! To read more about this, peruse this¬†article or this¬†article.

4) Audio books make free time constructive.

Most afternoons in the Mosley casa, you will find our 3 sons enjoying some quality rest time in their rooms. Though nap time is long gone for my sons, the need to quiet themselves and have some time alone is still a reality. (There Mom needs this time too!) Rest time is also known as “audio book time” in our home. The bulk of my sons’ audio book listening occurs during their afternoon rest time. We may not be sitting at our school table plodding along through a school subject, but rest time in our home is wonderfully educational. This is the time that my boys have listened to the Story of the World audio books and other classics like Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Charlotte’s Web, and (a family favorite!)¬†The Chronicles of Narnia.

Beyond rest time in our home, our family enjoys a good audio book while on a long trip. When we plan to travel an hour or longer, I make a special trip to our library to stock up on multiple audio books before we depart. Because our boys have grown accustomed to listening to audio books (remember, it won’t happen overnight!) for entertainment, they enjoy passing the time in the van with an audio book. On such occasions, I, personally, enjoy that we are listening to the same thing, which affords us great conversations as a family based on the book. I love how books can be used to create unity in our family. (Thank you, Honey for a Child’s Heart¬†for letting me in on this little secret!) Of, if my husband and I want to have a conversation, a “date” in the car if you will, we turn the speakers to the back of the van. They listen to their audio book, and we enjoy time “alone” together. ūüôā

5) Audio books cultivate a love of  literature.

“Readers are leaders,” was a quote my Dad preached when I was a young girl. It has always stuck with me. I think about it often with my sons. Exposing a child to a vast expanse of literature ensures that he/she will find stories, an author or genre that the child enjoys. The child begins to associate positive sentiments and associations with reading; thus, a love of literature is being cultivated.¬†I have no idea what God will call my sons to do, but I know one of the best ways I can prepare them for their unknown future is to cultivate within them a love of literature. To accomplish this, I read aloud with my boys…a lot, and I let them listen to audio books. ¬†Audio books, as a parent, have enabled me to introduce my sons to a variety of books that I may not have been able to read to them otherwise. In doing so, I have observed, first hand, their eyes dancing with joy and their talking-so-fast-I-can-hardly-understand-them summary about a book’s hero; they love books. As a disclaimer, this hasn’t always been the case! However, their love of books has grown¬†through the intentional exposure to and the investment of time with books–being read by me and my husband or by a narrator on an audio book.

So, the next time you find yourself at your local library, ask the children’s librarian to direct you to the children’s audio book section. Let your child pick out a couple of audio books and ¬†create time in his/her life to listen to them. Remember that it may take several books for it to “click” with your child. Let them have some alone time in their rooms, listening to an audio book and building with Legos or playing Barbies. Pop in your child’s favorite book on cd in the car rider line at school or en route to soccer practice. Look for creative ways to incorporate audio books into your child’s life. You’ll be glad that you did!