Today I’m introducing a new section to the site: 3 Great …
And I’m starting with 3 Great Audiobooks for children.
Audiobooks are a hugely underrated resource for parents and teachers. Children can become so bogged down in the sheer mechanics of reading that all sense of enjoyment is leeched from the process. Audiobooks can shift the emphasis back to where it truly belongs.
I have seen young children who are barely reading at all become completely engrossed in books meant for much older children, books like Little Women, for instance. What’s more, I have then heard them incorporate the vocabulary from those books in their everyday speech.
I have also seen older children listen to an audiobook first and then move onto the printed book and other books by the same author. And all this without the parent or teacher having to intervene at all. No more is needed than a good audiobook and a long car journey (or a series of reasonably long journeys).
Not that we have to be entirely hands-off, of course. My children were listening to Charlotte’s Web (read wonderfully by the author, E B White) the other day while we drove along. The only time we had to stop the CD was when I was forced to explain why I found the following passage (from the start of Chapter 12) so funny:
One evening, a few days after the writing had appeared in Charlotte’s web, the spider called a meeting of all the animals in the barn cellar.
“I shall begin by calling the roll. Wilbur?”
“Here!” said the pig.
“Here, here, here!” said the gander.
“You sound like three ganders,” muttered Charlotte. “Why can’t you just say ‘here’? Why do you have to repeat everything?”
“It’s my idio-idio-idiosyncrasy,” replied the gander.
That, I think, is brilliant. But, in explaining why I thought it was brilliant, I also had to explain what an “idiosyncrasy” was. As a result of which, my young children now have an expanded vocabulary. They may forget my definition but they certainly won’t forget E B White’s geese.
So E B White’s reading of Charlotte’s Web is one of my three choices. Martin Shaw reading The Hobbit is another, mainly because The Hobbit is such a wonderful book. This audiobook is an abridged version – which isn’t ideal – but the book somehow survives the abridgement because you still get 3 CDs worth of Tolkien. My third choice is The Wind in the Willows read superbly by Martin Jarvis. Some of the most beautiful chapters have been cut but the reading is so good that the audiobook is still worth getting.
So, there you are: three audiobooks to get us started. I shall review others over the coming weeks as long as I don’t get too distracted by simply listening to them.