Saturday, October 6, 2018

Free Audiobooks For Homeschool

We homeschool.

Our homeschool curriculum has a big read aloud component. Although I do enjoy reading to my children and we have a vast children's literature library in our home, we don't always have the time to do our read alouds.

Even if your particular curriculum doesn't have a read aloud component, I would suggest that you add it if possible. Read aloud books engage their imaginations. They model sentence structure and vocabulary. Wholesome read alouds fill their imaginations with wholesome images, heroic virtues, and good stories. Paraphrasing a quote from one of my favorite priests, if we don't fill our children's heads with good things, something else or someone else will fill them with bad things. I want my children to be thinking about someone like Mr. Popper having a penguin rather than all the bad things that are so prevalent in our society.

I am busy. I have six children and never run out of laundry. I have too many homestead and home improvement projects to even enumerate. I currently teach five of my six children.

I live in a very rural area. We do not have a cost effective way to obtain groceries and some basic necessities. We do not have access to certain specialized medical care that my children need.  Due to my children's health issues, I make frequent trips to the Denver area, two hours away each way, at least once per week. We spend a lot of time in our Big Van.

This is the radio in our big van.
We maximize our van-time by listening to audiobooks. We get all the benefits of read aloud in a time efficient manner.

Audiobooks can be expensive! Most are around $20 each. We can go through an audiobook in one Denver area trip! I am cheap. I will now talk about how we get our audiobooks and how we spend little or nothing for most of them.

1. LibriVox. LibriVox is a group of volunteers who read out-of-print public domain books. The readers agree that their audio recordings become part of the public domain. You can download them at will. LibriVox quality varies considerably. Some books and narrators are professional or near professional. The majority of LibriVox books are excellent. They have many dramatic readings, where they have a different voice actor for each character in the story. Sometimes the quality isn't the best and the readers have thick accents, their cat is purring as they read, they have microphone issues, a different person reads each chapter, or they lack dramatic flair. But they are free. Free is my favorite price and I am grateful to the good LibriVox volunteers who make these beautiful classic stories available to my family. I have a LibriVox app on my iPhone. I download the book when I have wifi and simply connect the headphone jack into my van's audio system.

2. CloudLibrary. Our local library participates in a consortium of little libraries that together subscribe to CloudLibrary. Although the selection on CloudLibrary isn't very large and the stories are mostly older and out-of-print, the narrations are all professional and beautiful. I have the CloudLibrary app on my iPhone and download the stories when I have wifi. I connect the iPhone to my van's audio system with the headphone jack.

3. Overdrive. I joined a bigger library in the metropolitan area that allows anyone in the state to belong. (It's the Aurora Colorado library in case you live in Colorado and wanted to join, too.) That bigger library belongs to Overdrive. Overdrive is an app that I have downloaded onto my kindle. I can virtually borrow audiobooks that the library owns if no one else has checked it out. (If they do not own it, you can request that they order the book and sometimes they do.) I am able to download the book to my kindle and connect the kindle to my van's audio system. I prefer to use the kindle rather than my phone because if I get a phone call or need directions, we don't have to stop the story- I simply put the back speakers on and shut the front ones off. CloudLibrary and LibriVox apps are not available for the kindle (as of this writing).

4. Hoopla. Hoopla is similar to Overdrive, but they seem to have a bigger selection. I also use my library card membership at that bigger library system to access Hoopla. I also have the Hoopla app on my kindle, download the books when I have wifi, and play them on my van's audio system using the headphone jack.

5. 
RBDigital. RBDigital is also similar to Overdrive and Hoopla and they also are an app on my kindle that use with the bigger library system card.

6. The Library. My local library has a decent selection of audiobook cds. They have the Little House series. We do borrow their audiobook cds occasionally and we treasure them.

7. YouTube. We use YouTube when we're at home and have access to wifi. There are some treasures there, like audio versions of old film strips. Don't overlook YouTube.

8. Audible. I don't have a subscription to Audible. I don't need another monthly expense. Audible does sometimes have sales. You can buy a book on Audible without subscribing. Most books are in the $20 range, and I avoid those, but I do pick up good books when I can find them for $5 or less. I watch for Audible sales and I post them on my facebook page. You can join my facebook page here. I will caution you that if you see a good price on Audible, grab it. They sometimes phase out older (i.e. cheaper) audiobook versions in favor of the newer more expensive ones. Ask me how I know.

9. Jim Weiss and Glory Stories. Yes, you have to pay for these cds, but they are worth every penny. Glory Stories feature dramatized Catholic saint stories. Jim Weiss is an extremely talented man who has professionally narrated many classic stories. His cds are excellent. 



This is the radio in our minivan.
I hope these help ideas help you to implement a read aloud component in your homeschool. I really see the benefits of the read alouds in my own children and I'm sure that you will also see the benefits in your own. 

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