Why did we learn so much more when we experienced it in a story?
Jim Weiss said (in an interview with Leigh Bortins on the 11/20/2013 edition of Leigh at Lunch) that it is because "Story hits you simultaneously in the head and the heart."
Why did we choose to experience the stories through audio books instead of movies or dramatized audio versions?
Mr. Weiss nailed it again. "I don't think we are doing our kids any favor to assume that they are unable to love and listen to something unless all the bells and whistles are there."
What if I could not find a book on my kids' levels?
Kids can appreciate (with practice) a much more complicated story than they can read by themselves. To me, the purpose of reading aloud (or audiobooks) is to expose our kids (and ourselves) to material that is beyond their levels. Say one of the boys heard a big, unfamiliar word while he was listening. Next time he heard the word, it was a familiar word. The third time time he heard it, he probably figured out exactly what it meant.
What if my kids would not pay attention to a long story?
I didn't expect them to at first. It took a lot of exposure before they were hooked. I found that a perfect time for exposing the kids to stories was in the car. They were captive! They may not have paid perfect attention, but it was there, and they eventually grew to appreciate them, then request them every time we got into the car.
Wouldn't it have been better if I read them the story myself rather than listening to a recording?
Yes, and I've tried to read to them as much as possible. But when what I read to them is all they got, it was not enough for their listening appetites. It just does not seem feasible for me to sit and read for hours a day. Plus, it's just plain fun to hear a professional read a story.
What books have we listened to?
Most of the memory on my phone is taken up by audio books. The boys each have a cheap mp3 player loaded with audio books. When we go to the library, we usually take away at least one audio book.
Our book selections usually go through phases. Thank goodness our Hank the Cowdog phase has died. It was fun for the first dozen books. Now the phase is Homer Price. Every single night.
Our first audiobooks were the Winnie The Pooh books. Remember about the captive audience? That's what I think of when I remember the Pooh CD's.
Thing1 listened to The Hobbit when he was 5. We should do that again. I think it was the voice of the narrator and the language that captivated him. I know he remembers nothing about it now. Thing2's 4- to 5-year-old favorites were Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy.
Trumpet of the Swan was good because E.B. White read it. I am anxious to listen to him read Charlotte's Web. Anything narrated by the author fascinates me.
The Railway Children was good. It stretched Thing1 when he was about 6.
The whole family listened to Where the Red Fern Grows on a road trip recently. If we didn't all cry, we all almost cried. Everybody was paying attention, captive or not. 101 Dalmations stands out as another great road trip story because of its fun factor for the whole family.
In addition to serving as incredible learning tools that have stretched our minds and imaginations, audiobooks have entertained us together and occupied us separately. They have shortened car rides and made bedtime a little more tolerable. They have been a huge part of our homeschool's "every day."