Contrary to popular opinion, audio books aren't just for the illiterate. In our increasingly auditory and decreasingly restful society, sometimes the only way to "read" books is by listening to them. Consider it story time for adults, except these aren't picture books, and you're more likely to be stuck in rush hour traffic than sitting on the library floor.
Of course, many of the audio books we offer are also for kids. As educators and psychologists learn more about the human mind and its variations, they understand more about learning styles; many people are auditory learners, simply meaning that they learn best by hearing. Listening to stories or history or whatever is a better way to help some kids internalize information than making them stare at a page until they have it memorized.
Education is about more than mere memorization, anyway. It's about absorbing and analyzing the knowledge and attitudes of others, understanding why they act and think the way they do. A good audio book can accomplish this just as well as a good book, and sometimes better—it's less time consuming to listen to a track over and over until you understand than it is to read the same two or three pages.
A lot of audio books aren't very good. Either the recordings are terrible, or the "reader" can't read, or there's too much cheesy music in the background that you're spending more effort wishing Kenny G had never picked up a saxophone than actually listening to the words being read. We've made it a point to carry only those that are high quality, and only quality titles.
We've also made it a point to link to Librivox wherever possible. Librivox is a website offering free audio books from the public domain, most of which are read by unpaid volunteers. As a result, the quality of the readings is all over the place: some are great, some are pretty awful. Still, this is a fantastic resource for free audio books that you can download or listen to online.
From time to time customers have asked why we don't carry more audio books. While we are constantly working on expanding our selection, there are two main reasons: Librivox is one, and the library is the other. Local library systems are offering an ever-increasing number of audio books, both for checkout and download, and we encourage you to take advantage of that service, especially since it's free.
You'll find mostly classic fiction in this category, with some theology, history, and historical fiction thrown in for good measure. All of these are books you could listen to as a family, though some will be over the heads of younger kids. Whether you're trying to save time, have auditory learners, or simply would rather listen than read, we encourage you to consider audio books as an important and viable supplement to your homeschool and your life.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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