Audiobooks are awesome! I love listening to audiobooks, and almost always have one going in addition to a traditional book or two. These days, I usually download my audiobooks from the library using the Overdrive app. I put them on my phone, and am easily able to listen to them through my headphones, Bluetooth speaker, or in my car. They seamlessly pick up where I left off the last time, usually a few seconds before, which is handy! I love the option on Overdrive to listen to the audiobook at varying speeds. I am a fast reader, and some narrators read slowly, so I sometimes speed things up a bit. My husband makes jokes about me listening to speed-reading, but I usually use the 1.5 speed, so it’s not really that fast.
Photo by jeff_golden
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Audiobooks are available from many sources
Some of the most popular downloadable options for audiobooks are through Overdrive, Audible, iTunes, Hoopla, and Audiobooks.com. (FYI: Overdrive and Hoopla can often be accessed through your public library for free. Ask about how to use those resources at your library if you haven’t already!) My personal favorite is Overdrive.
Or you can always go the old-fashioned route, and check out audio CDs from the public library (or purchase them on Amazon).
Over the years, our family has used audiobooks in many creative ways. My boys and I have listened to many, many audiobooks in many different settings. I’ve included some of these ways below.
8 Audiobook Uses You May Not Have Considered:
1. Quiet hour for kids: When my oldest was about 2, he stopped napping consistently. This was terrible timing, as his younger brother was born around that same time. I decided that it was best for all of us to implement a “Quiet Hour” each afternoon. A much used tool during that Quiet Hour was, you guessed it…audiobooks! I would start an audiobook, leave a basket of self-directed toys for him to play with, some books for him to “read,” put his brother down for a nap, and have a rest myself. It worked! I highly recommend Quiet Hour if you have little ones at home.
2. While falling asleep: I used to listen to music when I was falling asleep as a child. I started that with my boys as well, and they listened to classical music and guitar lullabies when they were babies. But after we started using audiobooks during Quiet Hour, my oldest began requesting to listen to them at bedtime as well! How could I say no to listening to books? We would read him a bedtime story, and then turn on his audiobook (on CD at the time). At 11, he still likes to listen to audiobooks when falling asleep, but now he downloads them himself using the Overdrive app.
3. With picture books as a kit from the public library: Many children’s audiobook CDs are paired with their picture book counter-parts at our local library in cute little “kits” available for check-out. We used to check these out when my boys were small, and listen to the audiobook while holding the book and turning the pages. This shouldn’t replace reading aloud to your kids, but if it offers some variety and my kids enjoyed listening to the different readers’ voices.
4. In the car with family, road trip and around town: To be perfectly honest, we haven’t done this a whole lot, but I would love to try to make it a habit. The few times we have, we’ve all enjoyed the experience. One particularly memorable audiobook that we listened to in the car when the boys were younger was Junie B. Jones. The narration was hilarious. Junie B’s voice was so clear in the writing, that we were laughing out loud at the outrageous things she would say. My little boys thought she was very naughty.
5. In the car alone, commuting or driving on a trip: If you have a regular commute, or just find yourself driving somewhere by yourself, try listening to an audiobook on the way! It will make your drive seem much more enjoyable!
6. While cleaning the house: Cleaning the bathrooms is a chore I detest, but somehow it doesn’t seem so bad when I’m listening to an audiobook! I have even been known to plug my earbuds in and listen to an audiobook while vacuuming! Try it, it works!
7. While chopping vegetables/prepping dinner/folding laundry: I like to listen to middle grade fiction around the house, so the content is appropriate if my kids come in the room while I’m listening. Some adult audio books have some sensitive topics included, and I’d rather not have to be ready to hit the pause button anytime someone walks through the room. I often have an audiobook playing while I’m making dinner or folding laundry.
8. While walking: I regularly listen to audiobooks when I take my morning walk. I love spending that morning time outside getting exercise and listening to my audiobook. A little alone time with a book is good for my soul.
Some of our Family’s Favorite Audiobooks:
Winnie the Pooh: timeless stories, I loved listening to these aloud with my kids when they were small
Junie B. Jones: These are laugh out loud funny, if your kids are old enough to get the fact that Junie B’s behavior isn’t always appropriate!
Magic Tree House series: a bedtime favorite with my boys for years when they were little
Treasure Hunters: My younger son says you can’t truly appreciate these books without the illustrations, but I found the audiobooks to be great.
Echo: The music is wonderful in this audiobook, and adds another dimension to this already amazing story.
Percy Jackson series: These audiobooks are on a constant repeat in our household!
Anne of Green Gables: I loved listening to this recently, and laughed and cried along with Anne during the reading of this wonderful book.
Snow Falling on Cedars: This is the first audiobook I remember listening to, on audio CDs from the library on a long car trip by myself about 15 years ago. I was so absorbed in the story, I never wanted it to end.
The Night Strangers: Super creepy, but so good. I can still hear the narrator’s voice saying the word “tinctures,” and it gives me goosebumps even now, years later. (I had to listen to this one in the car and when my kids were not around.)
If you haven’t already, give audiobooks a try! Pick a book and a way to use it, and go for it!