Most students, regardless of grade level, must complete a summer reading assignment for school. This task usually involves reading one or more books and completing a writing project. Historically, my sons wait until approximately 3.5 days before school starts in the fall to begin the dreaded assignment.
It becomes a horrific chore and casts a pall over even the best novels. Stress levels go up hence the need for a solution, this year I am trying a new tactic: audiobooks.
Motivating the Kids
Listening is Easy
Even when my boys are fond of a book, if it is required reading it becomes less enjoyable. Something about having to read makes the whole experience unsavory. Knowing that they have to take time out of their busy day of riding skateboards through mud puddles, throwing baseballs at each other, and splashing 2/3 of the water out of the swimming pool makes them ornery.
There are times when the weather is uncooperative, friends are busy, or are afflicted with the dreaded “I’m bored” disease. Suggestions to pick up a book are met with “ewww” and copious amounts of eye-rolling as they turn on the television. I have noticed that the TV is just background noise as they draw, sculpt with clay, or build with Lego.
So all that said, there just normal kids right!
Spellbound by Harry Potter
One rainy day, I turned off the TV and stuck the audio version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the stereo. The boys glanced up from the Legos briefly, shrugged, and went back to the building. My older sons had already read the first book of the Harry Potter series, but it was my youngest – and most reluctant reader – that I was hoping to engage.He had avoided the books after finding them just slightly too involved a couple of years earlier. As the afternoon progressed, the boys drifted away from the Legos. The older two had moved on to other activities, but my youngest was sitting spellbound by the story.
Reading and Listening Together
When I changed the CD, I suggested he grab the hardcover book so that he could follow along and see the words that were being read to him. By doing this, he found the words that had troubled him and was able actually to improve his comprehension of the story. The success of the Harry Potter experiment has inspired me to offer the listening option to the boys for this year’s summer reading.
Working Out a System
Having the kids listen to a book seems to work a treat, I simply ask them to listen, and when they hear something worth making a note for, they simply pause the audio and write the information down. I think encouraging them to play a Harry Potter book was the trick.
“Now I’m starting to feel a little big headed having discovered this all on my own!”
I have since mentioned my success to a few friends, one of them told me how they had heard that some schools were having success in having students who are usually reluctant readers to listen to a recorded book as they read the paper version of it.
Now I’m starting to feel a little big headed having discovered this all on my own! From now on whenever I am considering any books for my kid’s I will check and see if the narrated version of the book is available. I have found to my surprise except for a few exceptions, they normally are.
So Give it a Go!
If you are reading this and are feeling inspired to giving this method a go, I would suggest listening to a sample of the books first. Most online audio book stores offer this option; I think it’s particularly important if the book is available by various narrators. My boys have commented about the voices of different narrators; it should be no surprise that some do a better job than others.
I have had one instance where one of my boys wouldn’t listen to any more of a book because he didn’t like the narrators voice, some books are narrated by the author, some do a good job, and some do not. Even though many books are narrated by professionals, reading the comments at the point of sale shows that people will have various opinions about the narration of any book.
Try your Local Library
Lately, I have been using my local library; it has an excellent selection of books on CD as well as Playaway digital books. All of the boys have iPods, so downloads are quick and easy. So now during the summer time, we now we now try to identify some selections early.
It allows those last 3.5 precious days of summer to be spent enjoying the sunshine.
(n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiobook