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For the love of audiobooks

After a busy but fun New Year’s Eve, which saw the kids staying up until midnight to see in 2018, New Year’s Day was a quiet affair in our household. Quiet but surprisingly productive, thanks to the addition of these Harry Potter audiobooks.

They shut themselves away in the playroom for the whole afternoon listening to the energising tones of Stephen Fry, whilst a seriously prolific amount of building took place. My husband watched them for a while fascinated as they built, rebuilt, modified without stopping for a moment – brains stimulated and hands engaged at all times.

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We’ve long been big fans of audiobooks, ever since at the ages of 4 & 5, I switched on the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the car and they listened, transfixed in absolute silence.  No more arguing, just a happy, concentrated calm. Perfect!

The benefits of audiobooks are numerous. Firstly, trapped in the confines of the car, they happily listen to more complex books than they would normally accept as a read aloud. The rich vocabulary and language structure washes over them as we drive weaving a way into their brains and in part finding a way out into their own writing. The wide range of stories also stimulates their pretend play and develops their imagination.

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Another benefit according to Meik Wiking in his Little Book of Lykke (The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People), is the development of empathy, as the children get inside the head of the characters, allowing them to put themselves in the shoes of someone else. So in turn it’s supporting their social development, which ultimately makes for happier children.

In addition (as opposed to watching TV), reading or listening to audiobooks has been shown to improve concentration and memory and relieve stress. Three great reasons to listen.

The non fiction selections we listen to, such as Great Scientists and Their Discoveries or The Planets and the Solar System, also widen their general knowledge, along with my own (although they tend to retain the information, whereas it seems to slip out of my brain as if it were a sieve!).

Finally though, and probably most importantly, they enjoy them; it relaxes them, allowing time for them to wind down.

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Although we tend to purchase our audiobooks from Amazon and then share them with the home ed community, your local library will have plenty to chose from or a friend of mine swears by Audible for her audio listening. I would however highly recommend listening to the unabridged versions if you can; there’s really no comparison in my opinion between hearing the author’s intended words versus a shortened dramatised version.

Here are some of our favourite audiobooks:

Happy listening!

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