I have to admit that I didn’t listen to many audiobooks before I went to library school. However, in my young adult literature class I listened to one that was so amazing that I thought I might like to listen to more. (For those who are interested, that book is “Story of a Girl” by Sara Zarr, read by Sara Zarr. Love, love, love it!)
Fast forward to 2011–when I first got this job and was commuting nearly 4 hours a day, audiobooks not only made the drive bearable–listening to those stories made the drive enjoyable. I began to actually look forward to listening to the next installment of my book rather than dread getting up early or driving so far. I listened to (among others) The Giver, two Harry Potters, Ballet Shoes, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was great! In fact, the only thing I miss about commuting is the opportunity to listen to audiobooks.
So you might be wondering–what is the benefit of audiobooks for children? See this article to read more about the benefits of audiobooks for all children.
For me personally, listening to an audiobook is an experience quite apart from (yet equally enjoyable t0) reading the text of the same book. For example, I listened to Harry Potter and the Sourcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, both of which I had read previously and enjoyed. Both of these audiobooks are unabridged and masterfully portrayed by actor Jim Dale. It’s difficult to explain, but I felt that identified with the characters in a deeper way through listening to Jim Dale’s performance. It’s somewhere between reading the book and watching the movie–you have the benefit of interpreting the intonation of the spoken word while not losing any of the original text, and your imagination still gets to work at envisioning what the people and places look like.
Here I need to give a word of caution–the reader of an audiobook can DEFINITELY make or break it, in my opinion at least. You’re usually safe choosing an author reading his or her own work. Also see the Young Adult Library Services Association’s list of Amazing Audiobooks for teens. The article I linked above also has some resources for reviews of audiobooks.
Lee County Library has a nice collection of audiobooks on CD (children’s are in the children’s section; young adults are in the adult section). If CDs are too clunky for you, we also have a number of titles that you can download to your mobile device (cell phone, MP3 player, tablet, etc.) available on audiobook through Overdrive. They are enormously handy for passing time in waiting rooms, during lunch hour, or–long commutes. 🙂