It started out innocently enough, this love of (audio) books. We were on a road trip to visit family in Wisconsin, taking two days to drive there. By day two, my two boys (ages 4 and 6 at the time) were bored watching the scenery in Nebraska and Iowa roll by, so I popped in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. I just happened to have a copy of it in the car. We had been reading the Harry Potter books together, and had finished the first two by that point. (We had a portable DVD player with us, but my husband and I really didn’t want to start that habit of staring at a screen the whole time you are driving and missing the world go by. Also, I suspect my oldest suffers from car sickness, like me, and shouldn’t stare at books or screens while riding.)
Jim Dale’s narration was magic. They loved listening. No more fighting, no more complaints. They were just sucked into the world of Harry Potter, listening to Jim Dale and watching the world roll by. On that trip we ended up listening to Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets twice. And thus, our love affair began.
Since that fateful trip in 2011, my boys and I have had the pleasure of many different stories while driving. When it’s just the three of us, we rarely listen to the radio anymore. Even just a 5 minute jaunt to drop them off at school requires our current book to be playing. My oldest typically can’t wait to listen to the story, and checks whatever book it is out from the library. He is usually done with it before we’ve finished the first disc in the car. Which works out great because then my youngest and I can continue to listen to the story if he’s not there and continue on our book’s journey. It is great fun, and we talk about the book together as well.
Due to my love of all things Harry Potter, I had the first three books on CD, and had listened to the whole series. But that was as far as my affair with audio books had reached. Once we started listening to more children’s books in the car, I began listening to my own audio books when driving solo. When you’ve got a good narrator and the book is interesting (but not too interesting or complex, you are driving), the commutes around town are so much more enjoyable. I especially enjoy comedians like Ellen Degeneres and Tina Fay reading their own books.
Up until recently, I would read the book before we listened in the car, just to make sure it was interesting and age appropriate for both boys. Now my youngest is at an age where we are listening before I’ve read the book. Except Percy Jackson. I just can’t wait on those and I read them right when they come out each year.
We are currently listening to The Land of Stories:The Wishing Spell. To date, the boys and I have listened to:
Harry Potter (We have not finished the series as the boys like to read the book themselves before we listen to the audio. We read the first three Harry Potter’s together at bedtime over several years, it was wonderful. My youngest just finished Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.) When we don’t have our next audio book picked out, we usually just start listening to one of these again.
- Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone
- Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
Peter and the Starcatchers Series (Again, narrated by the FABULOUS Jim Dale)
- Peter and the Starcatchers
- Peter and the Shadow Thieves
- Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
- Peter and the Sword of Mercy
- The Bridge to Neverland (didn’t like this one as much. The writing style is different than the previous books, and it is not narrated by Jim Dale.)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series and The Heroes of Olympus Series
- The Lighting Thief
- The Sea of Monsters
- The Titan’s Curse
- The Battle of the Labyrinth
- The Last Olympian
- The Lost Hero
- The Son of Neptune
- The Mark of Athena
- The House of Hades
- The Blood of Olympus
The Books of the Beginning Series (Again, Jim Dale!) The third book just came out, we are on the waitlist for the audio CDs.
Peter and Wendy, (again narrated by Jim Dale. I’m telling you, he is wonderful!)
We’ve only had one failure – The Kingdom Keepers series. The boys thought book one was okay, but none of us liked book two enough to even finish listening to it.
Do you listen to audio books? Are there any authors you prefer to listen to rather than to read? Any recommendations? While I’ve only listed the books the boys and I have listened to together, I do listen to adult fiction and non-fiction too.
8 thoughts on “For the Love of (Audio) Books”
I absolutely LOVE Jim Dale. I will pick up an audiobook I might never have listened to otherwise if I see that he is the narrator. The Harry Potter books were wonderful enough to read to yourself, but when he adds his voice(s), they are just magical.
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Yes! That was how we came to read The Emerald Atlas, because he narrated it. So wonderful with all the characters voices.
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My kids and I adore audiobooks! They listen on their own while drawing or playing, and we listen together in the car and during breakfast and lunch. Some of our favorites are:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Chronicles of Narnia
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Phantom Tollbooth
Our public library has a large digital audio collection, so I download to one of our devices a lot.
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Thanks for the recommendations! We are always on the hunt for a good audio book. 🙂
I adore audio books. I tend to choose audiobooks off of character accents, difficult pronunciations, audiobook recommendations or awards, and narrators that I already know are amazing. It’s also the format that will make me stray furthest from my normal genre preferences, since a good performance will make me get through a book I would struggle with otherwise.
I read mostly adult/YA scifi and fantasy, but for some kid’s books I really loved Tim Curry’s performance of the first few Series of Unfortunate Events books. (After a few books, the author takes over as narrator and does an AWFUL job, so I recommend only the early Tim Curry performances in audio.) And Brian Jacques’ Redwall series has great full cast recordings with music and animal voices, plus Brian Jacques has an amazing storyteller voice for all the narration bits. It takes a track or so to get used to the animal voices, but then it adds so much to the experience. (All completely kid appropriate feelgood fantasy, with only occasional scary moments.)
My favorite narrator is Davina Porter, but I don’t think she does any kids books.
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Thanks so much for the recommendations! I am a huge Tim Curry fan, but I had no idea he did audio books. 🙂
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