Next up — listening to a good book. Mostly excerpted from Mighty Mommy, with my own two cents thrown in for good measure.
In Getting Kids to Read Over the Summer, the NEA states that children, especially those from low-income families, can lose up to three months of reading progress over the summer months. “There are tons of books that students will fall in love with that can be used as hooks to the academically required books.” — Mighty Mommy
Introduce your child to the Wide Wonderful World of audio books. Your grandkids (and you) can listen here, you can listen there, you can listen anywhere! Listen in the car, listen while doing chores (Gramma can have the kids do chores, too. It’s good for them — but that is for another post).
Mighty Mommy suggests a resource called Reading Rockets, “a national multimedia literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read (Butler, 2017).”
In their article Listen and Learn with Audiobooks parents can glean some great advice on how to help kids take advantage of the wonderful world of audio books this summer and throughout the school year. For a wide-variety of interesting audio books for the entire family visit Macmillan Audio (Butler, 2017).
How to choose the right story?
You want to start with familiar stories, ones you’ve already read aloud to them. This way you change just one variable, the reading voice.
The format you choose should be easy for you both to use. Most Grandmothers are familiar with the most obvious choice, Books on CD. Some public libraries “carry Playaways, which are books pre-loaded onto MP3 player available for checkout. (Walker R., 2017).” Doesn’t that sound cool? Sort of like fast food for the ears. My library system provides audio books through the service called OverDrive from which one can “borrow” the audio book by downloading it for a specific time, usually 14 days. I personally don’t jump with joy over this format because it meant that I had to sign in to my library, then download and join in to OverDrive, and I have to listen to it through that app only. But, I do have access to free popular books, as long as they are actually available.
The titles you choose should be ones recognized as High Quality. Talk with your librarian for suggestions, or check out suggestions from Notable Children’s Recordings from the American Library Association or Reading Rockets’ Favorite Audio Books. You should probably get input from your kids so they are more likely to actually listen rather than poking the toy dinosaur into his brothers’ ear.
Other online ways to obtain audio books include Audible and Tales2Go where you can subscribe to a very extensive catalog of audio content. Both sites are paid subscription sites. I can vouch for Audible, find they are good, but personally I cannot afford it. Tales2Go subscriptions are primarily for Brick-n-Mortar schools as well as Homeschools with varying plans. BUT, there is also a subscription for individuals, from 99$ for an annual subscription, 40$ for three months (enough to take you through the summer), and a monthly subscription which you get from the Play Store.
My personal favorite is Lit2Go, from Florida Center for Instructional Technology. This is a free site (what’s not to love about free?) which includes downloadable MP3, of course — we ARE talking specifically about audio books. But the site includes downloadable PDF form so you can print if you need to, or read from the screen. Many stories also provide teacher notes and learning objectives, which make these stories that much more valuable. However, my suggestion is to not go too deep into the teaching part. The kids will learn much just by listening to good stories. The vintage images from these classic public-domain books are priceless.
What to do (Walker R., 2017)
Listen to audio books together.
Offer some background information or a preview of the story to help your child focus his listening and more easily follow what’s happening in the story.
Feel free to stop listening. If an audio book isn’t engaging, try another!
Keep your young listeners in mind. While kids can listen on a higher level than they can read, some stories may be too complex for young listeners to follow and enjoy.
Don’t let audio books take the place of you reading aloud to your child or telling them stories.
Here’s another free site. Librivox has loads of public domain books read by volunteers around the world. My experience is largely great, although I have found some readers I just cannot listen to. Often, you can find the same book read by a volunteer whose style is more compatible. If not, then try the next suggestion ….
How about this idea? Record yourself reading to the kids. You need a quiet place to read out loud, a microphone you can find from Walmart or Amazon, and an app that will record your voice in MP3 format. You will want to give life to the characters, using different voices. Don’t be afraid to be crazy! The kids eat it up, ask me how I know! The crazier, the better. And, don’t be afraid you will look stupid. Your kids won’t know what hit them, just be you! They love you no matter.