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The Art of Being Read To

This post is sponsored by Audible.

I won’t deny that I became a teacher partly because I wanted to read books aloud to my class. I mean, also so I could write on the chalkboard and decorate bulletin boards and, heavens, let’s not forget about putting stickers on good papers and scribbling stars with red pens. But mostly, so I could read aloud. It’s just that I had studied how teachers read books aloud for so many years and how, if you were good at it, you could bring a story to life by a simple subtle shift in your voice. So, I kept a journal of books I wanted to read aloud to my class someday and put stars by the stories I knew would require all the passion of the read aloud commitment–to make my readers feel the words and feel a part of the story–to perform it well. Years later, during the fifteen minute block after lunch every day, my fifth graders would shuffle back in the classroom–still sweaty from recess–and settle down with their heads in folded arms at their desk and listen while I fulfilled my read aloud dreams, doing my best to bring to life the words of Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars and Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins and the mystery behind Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember.

I still love reading aloud to my own kids, but what I really love these days in the trenches of school schedules and motherhood demands is being read to–taking the role of listener for performances of great stories and books I might not otherwise have the time to read given my “to be read” pile on my nightstand and the slow pace it’s taking me to attack it.

That’s why I love audiobooks. Not only do they allow me to catch up on reading during times I’m not able to hold a book–driving in the car, going for a run, cooking dinner–but they fulfill that need of my inner child–the one that still loves to be read to. Have you heard of Audible? Audible is the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment and offers customers a new way to enrich their lives every day. Audible adds new titles to their catalog every day and has an unmatched selection of audiobooks to choose from from childhood classics to the newest adult reads on bookstore shelves.

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Audible made our summer road trip to Michigan a lot more fun last year  as we listened to Swing Sideways on the way up, and the narrator (Tara Sands) delivered a wonderful theatrical performance of the book that held my kids’ attention much like a movie.

We are currently listening to Audible’s presentation of Harry Potter, and I love the way it’s giving both my kids and me the opportunity to listen together before bed and the riveting presentation (and British accent!) the narrator Jim Dale delivers.

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But my favorite recent audiobook experience has been a revisit to an old favorite, Anne of Green Gables, one of Audible’s star powered listens, read by Rachel McAdams.

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I started it on our trip to Vail, and it’s been the perfect accompaniment to a vacation dedicated to relaxing, nourishing and huddling in. I did take it out with me the other morning though, on a walk alone in the mountains, and let me tell you–the experience was unforgettable. It was as if one of my favorite storybook characters came along with me, and if there’s one person you want to take with you on a winter walk to appreciate the snow-tipped branches and majestic mountains against the cold blue sky, it’s Anne Shirley.

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If you’d like to try Audible and want to download a book you’ve been wanting to read, Audible is giving readers a 30-day trial with a free download. Click here to try it out, browse their incredible collection of titles and see for yourself how good it feels to be read to. Play it in the car, tuck ear buds in your purse so you can listen in waiting rooms, bring your narrator along for evening walks or sneak in a chapter while you’re chopping onions for dinner.

I still love to hold books, follow words and encourage my kids to do the same, but we can read so many more titles with Audible and enjoy the experience of listening and being moved by a great performance of a story. As any kid who’s ever experienced the comfort of falling asleep to their mother’s voice reading Goodnight Moon or Ramona Quimby knows, being read to is one of life’s great pleasures.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.


Leave a Comment
  1. Loved this post, my children are older and I miss reading to them. Maybe it’s time to be read to.

    Also, have you read the book, Before Green Gables, by Budge Wilson? It is the story of Anne Shirley before she arrives at Green Gables.

  2. I so needed this for a job I had 15 years ago. I use to listen to books on tape or cd all the time and I loved it. I had to check them out from the library. This would have been so much easier. Half the time the tapes didn’t work or the cds skipped. I’ll have to check into this.

    • I also use to check out the tapes/cds from the library and they got me through many a long walk. Though, I do occasionally purchase through Audible on the iphone, I still download directly from the library to my mp3 player for the daily train commute.

  3. Am currently listening to ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ it is FANTASTIC…over 160 different narrators and the story is riveting.

  4. Karen (Scotland) says:

    I LOVE Audible. Once I’ve walked the kids to school, I take the long way home and listen to half a chapter of my book as I march. Brilliant daily exercise but not as boring as walking alone.

    I can recommend The Martian as audio. Not sure I could have read all the ‘science’ in the actual book but the narrator was brilliant and brought humour, introspection or just the right emphasis to a sentence, so I could get the gist of the science where I n ended to.

    I also recommend Jodi Taylor’s “Just One Damned Thing After Another” series. Cheesy time-travelling hi-jinks but seriously laugh out loud easy listening.

    Anyway, yes, as a busy mum, nice to just relax and listen for a while.

  5. This is perfect to share with my book club : ). Thank you! I get to pick the book this month. I am super excited. I will take 3 choices and let everyone vote. I am taking All The Light We Cannot See, just because I love the title. Isn’t that pretty? I am not sure what else I will bring. Do you have any good ideas?

  6. We have the entire Ramona Quimby series from Audible and our kids A B S O L U T E L Y love listening to each and every book. Multiple times. My six year old can even quote extended passages from the books. Plus, Stockard Channing is brilliant in her narration.

  7. Because, let me tell you, reading Harry Potter aloud is no joke!!! It took us a year!! Mama is tired after a long day at work (reading aloud to other people’s kids!)

  8. Love rainy day audiobooks…as homeschoolers…great for mom time or for focused work

  9. The Harry Potter audio books are EVERYTHING! I adore the way Jim Dale brings the characters to life with his voices and inflection.

  10. I have listened to the Harry Potter series over and over and OVER again! I love the ‘sleep timer’ function on audible. I set the timer for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how exhausted I am) and fall asleep listening. As soon as I finish book seven, I start all over again with book one!

    P.S. I do also listen to other books. ; )

  11. The Shack on Audible is amazing!!
    The book is powerful and profound but to have it read to you brings it to a whole new level. It makes your heart soar to hear.

    Read the book twice, saw the new movie and listened 3 x to my Audible version. Audible wins!

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