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Literacy Milestone: Listening to Audiobooks on Her Own

LiteracyMilestoneALast week I ran across a guest post that Amy from Sunlit Pages wrote for Erica at the blog What Do We Do All Day? Both of these blogs are on my regular reading list, full of practical tips for encouraging young readers, plus book suggestions. This particular post was about helping kids learn to love audiobooks. A couple of things about the post caught my eye:

  1. Amy noted that listening to audiobooks can be especially good for kids who are introverted, because "he will probably welcome some alone time where he can relax and listen to a story." I had a feeling that this might apply to my daughter, too. 
  2. She mentioned that listening to audiobooks that he had heard before was helping one of her sons to fall asleep on his own, and that it was generally a good way for kids to fill time when they had nothing else to do. 

And then she got into tips for how to introduce audiobooks (what types of books to choose, what sorts of device to use, etc.), and ended with some suggested titles. 

Well, I myself am an avid listener of audiobooks. I listen when I am exercising, when I am in the car by myself, and when I'm doing mundane chores around the house (folding laundry, etc.). At all of these times, audiobooks turn what might otherwise be boring or tedious into something enjoyable. I've been known to exercise longer because I don't want to stop listening, or to continue tidying the house beyond what is strictly necessary. (I have only once missed my highway exit because of an audiobook.)

So I'm quite familiar with the joys of audiobooks. And I had dabbled a bit with listening with my daughter. We started listening to The Wizard of Oz when were are in the car together. But the truth is that I'm not in the car alone with her very often, for more than extremely short trips, and so our opportunities for listening together were slim. 

After reading Amy's article, though, I thought it might be worth trying to l find a device that would work for us to listen a bit around the house. I did a bit of research, and was pleased to learn that my old Kindle (not the PaperWhite that I currently use) supports audiobooks. And as Audible (where I've had a membership for about 12 years now) is now part of Amazon, this support is actually quite seamless. So I dug out the old Kindle (maybe 3 years old), charged it, and gave it a try. 

I took Amy's advice to start with a book that we had already read together. Well, sort of. I decided to start with the Ramona series. The whole set of 8 books is available for a single Audible credit, narrated by Stockard Channing. My daughter and I had only actually read the first couple of chapters of Beezus and Ramona aloud together, but she has also seen the movie. This makes Ramona and Beezus familiar to her. 

So while we were doing some coloring Saturday afternoon, I asked if she would like to listen for a bit. She said sure. I stayed with her to make sure she was able to follow the story, and she was. Eventually she stopped coloring and curled up on the couch to listen instead. That's when I knew she was hooked. She also asked to take the device with her on one of our very short car rides that evening.

The next day my husband and I had some chores to do, and she asked if she could listen to Ramona while she waited for us to finish. This time she just took the Kindle and wandered off to another part of the house. She kind of alternated between just listening and listening while working on other projects. And we got over an hour of work done. That evening my husband wanted to read to her himself, so he asked her where she was in the audiobook, so that he could pick up with the paper copy. She knew exactly what she had listened to and what she hadn't, so I do think that she's taking the story in. 

And so my daughter is now an audiobook listener. I expect to continue reading aloud to her just as much as ever, of course. But if she can listen on her own sometimes, to keep herself both occupied and immersed in the world of books, well, I think that's a great thing. I do happen to already own audio versions of a number of my childhood favorites...

One final point: It's also possible to listen to audiobooks on the Kindle Fire tablet. We do have one of those that my daughter uses. However, she is not aware, and is not going to be aware if I can help it, that she can use that device to listen to audiobooks. I fear that the distraction of knowing that videos are just a click away would be too much. The old Kindle (I don't even think this version is available any more) is gray and boring and all she can do is listen to the book. And really, isn't that all she needs?

I don't expect to be blogging much for the rest of this week. Wishing you all a peaceful Thanksgiving, and plenty of time for books. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. There are some affiliate links in this post.