Why our children should listen to audiobooks

I love audiobooks. I listen every day whilst dog walking or cooking. And I firmly believe that listening is “reading” and will argue this on Clubhouse until I’m blue in the face (not that anyone can see on Clubhouse). When I do school visits, I talk a lot about the author creating “mind movies”, and I would include audiobooks in this discussion.

So you may know I’m lucky enough to have the utterly amazing Chris Devon narrate my Relic Hunters series (and he’s being very patient whilst I struggle with plot holes in book 3). Anyway, for a different perspective, I recently met the talented and super lovely Charlotte Chiew (scroll down for some very funny shots of here at work) at a networking event and invited her to share some thoughts on the benefits of audiobooks for children so over to her ….

The muscles you(r children) work listening to audiobooks

I’ll admit – I only really started listening to audiobooks after I began narrating them. 

Of course, like many a good parent, I’d bought (and listened together with) my kids those read-along books with CDs that ring a little lovely chime every time the narrator had come to the end of the page and it was time to turn the page. My boys loved them. I think they felt pretty good about themselves, pretending they were able to read before they actually could decipher the words themselves. 

Then, as they got older and silently devour all sorts of books by themselves, they also started on audiobooks. I honestly can’t remember how or when, but they were the pioneer audiobook listeners in my household. I remember the first times I found the house silent, the child(ren) immobilized, headphones on, eyes glazed. And I thought, who cast this spell and how?

Obviously, I wanted this magical super power too.  

While I won’t be sharing the secrets of how I spin a spellbinding tale, I will share 2 interesting facts about audiobooks that may shed some light on how and why some audiobook narrators have listeners eating out of their hands.

1. Our brain works as hard whether we’re reading a story ourselves or listening intently to someone telling it to us.

From an evolutionary point of view, reading came after storytelling and listening, and so it uses processes in the brain that were already there from learning by listening. If you think about reading as the process of decoding the written letters, then it means that if you’ve learnt to read, the decoding is pretty much automatic which means it no longer requires much effort. The effort then, is in what you do with the information you get from the decoding (reading) or the listening (storytelling). 

(There’s been lots of scientific research on this topic, but here is where I gleamed my understanding of memory & learning http://www.danielwillingham.com/articles.html)

2. Listening to audiobooks is more engaging than watching films – even if you don’t realise it!

A study from UCL found that listening to audiobooks creates a more intense psychological and emotional reaction that watching television or film. A quick google search will bring up all the statistics and research data if that’s your cup of tea. But think about it – the results aren’t that surprising. When listening to an audiobook, you have to work your imagination so much more than when watching a film. (Remember how the latest release of that book you loved was never as satisfying as when you read it?) In addition to your imagination working hard, often times, you experience an intimate storytelling with audiobooks. A beautiful voice in your ears (thank you Noise-cancelling-headphones), drawing you into the world of the story. The narrator heightens the experience for the listener and has the ability to make an audiobook unforgettable.

The imobilised, glazed-eyed state I find my kids in when they listen to audiobooks must just be their imagination hard at work. With some help from an expert narrator…

3. Insider tips

If you’re new to audiobooks and I’ve tempted you to try, here are some options and tips for looking for great narrators:

  1. Most audiobook online retail platforms will let you trial a subscription for a month. Try Kobo, Audiobook.com and Audible – you get free book/s during your trial, which you get to keep even if you cancel your subscription. Afterwhich you’ll get credits which usually equates to 1 book every month. With a Kobo subscription, you’ll also get books on promotional prices in addition to your 1 “free” book a month. And if you accumulate more credits that you can use them, Kobo lets you”pause” your subscription if you don’t want to cancel but just haven’t finished using those credits.
  2. Check if you local library has a partnership with Libby App (by Overdrive). We are members of Lewisham Library (London) and have enjoyed many audiobooks for free on our library cards.
  3. You can get free audiobooks from Librivox, Googleplay Audiobooks, and even Apple iTunes. 
  4. Before you buy/rent/download-a-free audiobook, always check out the retail sample. That’s the equivalent of a traditional book’s “blurb”. Most audiobook producers will choose a section that will let you have a good idea of how the narrator tells the story. However, some retailers will cut their own retail sample and sometimes, that means you just hear the copyrights and opening credits…
  5. Look out for the Earphones award for the audiobook, or the Golden Voice award for the Narrator. These are awards given by AudioFile Magazine, for truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text.

About Charlotte Chiew

Charlotte Chiew is an audiobook narrator-producer, voiceover artist, and actor. She specializes in narrating content for young audiences and has performed for children and young audiences all over the world in theatres, community halls, festivals, shopping malls, bookshops, and on recorded medium. Charlotte is currently narrating and producing the Paramedic Chris Series– a children’s book series about the Ambulance service – by Tim Parsons.

Find out more about Charlotte’s work on https://Charlottechiew.com

Listen to Charlotte spin a yarn on the Tauk Kids’ Youtube Channel https://bit.ly/TAUKKidsYT

Wombat & Wow

If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know I loved Daisy May’s Daydream Parade so I was eager to listen to Wombat & Jones. And I wasn’t disappointed. What fun! Again, the author’s BBC CBeebies Radio background is very evident and this is razor sharp.

Young listeners (ages 3-5) will love it but, with my mum hat on, I promise the parents will enjoy it too. No screechy shouty voices here. Just crisp and clear characters with very distinct accents so they’re easy for everyone to distinguish between.

The writing is strong. Who doesn’t love “a wombat called … errr … Wombat”. And “Badger, the giraffe, who wasn’t a badger at all” is bound to make you smile.

There’s a moral, but it’s not overdone, and at 50 minutes it’s perfect for a car journey.

Enjoy 🙂

Blurb

Wombat and Jones are excited to attend the famous Boris Beaker’s banana bread baking class and like many other friends in town they can’t wait to get to work on making scrumptious banana bread. However, there’s just one problem — before class gets underway, Boris discovers that all of the bananas have gone missing!

Boris Beaker and his disappointed students know there is no chance they can make banana bread without this key ingredient, but Wombat isn’t willing to give up that easily. Putting her investigative skills to the test, she gets help from her trusty sidekick — Furlock Jones — and together they attempt to solve The Great Banana Mystery.

Written by author Arran Francis, creator of multiple series for BBC’s CBeebies Radio, Wombat & Jones: The Great Banana Mystery is a funny tale about friendship, problem-solving, and teamwork. Simple mistakes and jumping to conclusions can happen after all, but Wombat & Jones try their best to put it right and learn from them. 

https://www.wombatandjones.org/thegreatbananamystery

Author Bio

Arran Francis is the creator of multiple series for BBC’s CBeebies Radio and has worked as an audiobook producer on behalf of MacMillan Audio, Audible and Harper Collins. He launched Wombat and Jones Audio in 2019 with the aim of writing children’s novels to be released exclusively in audiobook format.

The audiobooks for the Daisy May’s Daydream Parade and Wombat & Jones series were released last summer with further books in the series and standalone titles being scheduled for publication in 2020.

More Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds

I listen to audiobooks every day while walking the dog, so what could be more appropriate than a book about dogs! I reviewed the first book recently, and enjoyed it although I was a little surprised to find out it was actually about the house hunt process (like an episode of one of those TV series) rather than life in rural Ireland. Book 2 is about settling in and I absolutely LOVED it!

★ same narrator

★ same dry humour

★ more (and more) dogs

I laughed, I worried, and I want more.

Book cover

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 – Still living the dream in rural Ireland

Nick and Lesley’s desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story.
Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong?
Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?

Purchase Links 

Here is the audio link. It is available in ebook and paperback, but I haven’t read it in print format. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0844YCGSS/

Author Bio

Author Nick Albert

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

A great audiobook for Dora The Explorer fans

I’ve been listening to The Handmaid’s Tale on my recent dog walks, but I fancied something lighter on this rather grey, gloomy, morning. Cue Daisy May’s Daydream Adventure. This was a random choice – I hadn’t listened to a sample (and I’m fussy about narrators), so I had no preconceptions, but it’s a goodie. The narrator is really crisp and clear with just the right combination of pace and enthusiasm for the pre-school listener. Chapter lengths and the overall length are just right too. The author’s BBC CBeebies Radio background is very evident.

If we weren’t in lockdown I’d recommend it for a car journey! There are good messages about pollution, but they’re not rammed down your throat in a preachy way.

Overall, if your kids like Dora the Explorer, they’ll love Daisy May.

Blurb

Eight-year-old Daisy May is the writer and star of her very own TV show, Daisy May’s Daydream Parade, which broadcasts live and exclusively in her imagination. 

​In the latest episode, Daisy May finds herself on a desert island where she discovers a map that leads to buried treasure, but what appears to be a simple quest to find riches soon turns into a roller-coaster ride as evil pirates, grumpy gorillas, and a fire breathing dragon stand in her way. However, when travelling across polluted ocean waters and trash covered beaches, Daisy May soon realises that the hunt for treasure can wait – there’s a much bigger issue in need of urgent attention. 

​Written by Arran Francis, multiple series creator for BBC CBeebies Radio, Daisy May’s Daydream Parade audiobooks show how 8-year-old Daisy May confronts her real life problems in the stories she writes as she floats off into her daydream adventures.

Fresh Eggs & Dog Beds

I love audiobooks, especially when dog walking and especially non-fiction, so this was a double tick as soon as I saw it. I particularly love memoir narrated by the author themselves, but understand that’s a big task and not for everyone (certainly not me anyway). In fact the narrator was excellent – I’d definitely look out for anything else by him.

At times I forgot this was non fiction and was looking for a plot. Then again, as a memoir, I was expecting some life lessons, but it’s a pretty straightforward linear account. It is a little slow – five chapters before they even think of moving to Ireland and way more before they actually make the purchase – it’s a bit like watching one of those “Home or Abroad” or “Move to the Country” property search TV shows! If you enjoy those shows, this lets you see “behind the scenes” and you’re going to absolutely love it. It could have gone straight from his health wake up call/ redundancy into the action, but I guess by taking the slow road it’s left plenty of scope for book two. I wasn’t rolling around with laughter, just a gentle smile but, as a light, easy listen, I definitely enjoyed it and am looking forward to book two.

Blurb

Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Author Bio

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020. Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

undefined

https://www.facebook.com/NickAlbertAuthor/

Twitter @Nickalbertautho