by Kimberly Miller
Reading aloud is one of the most important things a parent can do for their own children to ensure their academic success. Listening to a good, well written work of literature does something to the mind and the imagination of a child that is truly remarkable. It prepares them, through the use of the imaginative powers, for life and learning. It plants seeds in the fertile ground of the mind that will grow and bloom well into their future lives.
Multiple studies have shown evidence that reading to children is beneficial and in many ways even essential for learning and brain development.
It is important for homeschooling parents to not underestimate the power of reading to our children. For something that seems so simple, the effects are far reaching and may even be immeasurable. At the very least, it helps set kids up for a love of books and reading. But sharing a read aloud can also be a bonding experience for parent and child.
You probably read to your child when they were very young. Most parents enjoy holding a child in their lap and sharing a classic picture book together. Young children can learn so much from the language patterns, repetition, engaging pictures, and captivating ideas contained in quality literature for young children. Be sure to capture those moments while they are available. Little ones don’t stay little forever, and before you know it, they have moved past the picture book stage. They won’t want to hear you read Goodnight Moon forever.
At some point, it will be time to move on to longer and more complex books. Early readers, chapter books, and children’s classics like The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows can offer a feast for the heart and imagination of children. Once again, books like these shared between parents and children are delightful opportunities for strengthening the parent-child connection. Those hours spend sitting side-by-side, sharing a good book together, create special memories and important moments for both parent and child.
Personally, I love books. To say I am a bookworm would be an understatement. And I want my children to share that love of books with me. I want them to experience the delights of escaping into another world through the pages of a book. Maybe you are like me and feel the same way, but maybe you don’t. I understand that not everyone has that same love of reading, but I am sure that most parents understand the importance of reading and exposing your child to quality literature. And if that is the case, you may want to consider utilizing a resource that I have found, through the twenty years that I have been homeschooling my nine children, to be nothing short of a treasure.
The resource I am referring to is audiobooks. Back when my older children were still little, we often borrowed cassette tapes and CDs from the library (yes, my oldest children are that old!). I would pop a tape into our car cassette player and any time we went to the store or music lessons or sports practices or even just a trip to the park, we listened to the current story. We went through so many wonderful books that way. We all have fond memories of listening to the entire Chronicles of Narnia series and the Little House books in these snippets of moments while riding in the car. There were even times when we would pull into our driveway and sit in the car for a while, listening to a book, because it had reached a “good part” and we didn’t want to stop yet.
Almost every road trip we have been on as a family had included many hours spent listening to an audio book. There is no better way to pass the time on a long day of driving than to get caught up in a book on audio. The best part is the shared memories you are creating and the way those memories contribute to your family culture. Every family has their own unique culture, and listening to audio books together is a perfect way to add to that culture in an easy and accessible way.
Using audiobooks in your homeschooling is so simple, it almost feels like cheating sometimes, and yet it is not. It can be ideal and an efficient use of time to assign your child an audiobook to listen to themselves. Kids can consume a lot of really great books that way. But don’t underestimate the value of listening to audiobooks together.
There are so many sources for audiobooks available today, and some of them are quite inexpensive or even completely free. You don’t have to pay for an Audible subscription in order to be able to share audiobooks with your children. Most libraries now have online access to ebooks and audiobooks. Subscription services are, of course, a good place to look as well if you don’t mind paying for the books you want your kids to listen to. Some of these services even allow you to borrow unlimited books for one monthly fee. You can purchase CDs or MP3s as well as another option. Websites like Librivox offer free downloads of classic books in the public domain, most of which are read by volunteers.
With all of the options now at our fingertips, audiobooks are a huge benefit to the homeschool family. And the numbers agree, too. The audiobook industry had grown exponentially in the past two or three years and more and more readers are turning to audiobooks to enhance their reading lives. Why not take advantage of this as well, for yourself and for your children? At the very least, it can be a fun way to supplement your homeschool curriculum, but if you give audiobooks a try, you may just find that it transforms your entire family.
Below you will find a handful of resources for audiobooks that can be helpful in homeschooling. These are the ones that I would especially recommend.
(the most well known among options, and the one with the largest selection of books to choose from)
(an ala’cart service that often runs special deals on select audiobooks within their catalog)
(a largely volunteer-run service—the quality is hit or miss, but the price, which is completely free, can’t be beat)
Local library online services (once you get connected with your library’s online catalog, you will never want for another audio or ebook again, and all of them are right at your fingertips, no late fees required!)
(offers delightful dramatizations of many of their print books—highly recommended)
Kimberly Miller is the mother of nine children and has been homeschooling them for over twenty years. She has served HOME for almost fifteen years as the Publications Coordinator and a Regional Representative. In addition to those roles, Kimberly is also a freelance editor and a published author of several books, both fiction and nonfiction. In her spare time, she loves reading good books, sipping tea, working in her garden, and enjoying the animals on her family’s hobby farm in Western Maine.