Archive for the ‘Audible + Family’ Category

Could parents make more quality time with kids?

May 2, 2007

Riding home on I-95 last weekend, I noticed the glow of a DVD in the SUV to our right. Three small heads appeared to be watching a movie and it made me wonder whether the family could be doing more with their time in the car. I must caveat that without children of my own, I haven’t yet needed the power of TV to calm the natives. Still, I couldn’t help but think that if they were listening to a book, like my husband and I were, they’d be doing something together and the children could be learning more. We always chat about the books we hear when we finish or when we stop for a bit; the family could do the same and expose kids not only to more stories, but how to think about them. As a teacher, I see the impact on children made by time spent and experiences shared with their parents. This time is so hard to find, but maybe there are opportunities like this. Children emulate their parents and the behaviors and attitudes that parents model affect children profoundly. If parents are lifelong learners, children will likely follow their lead.

Developing 3 new readers… at once

March 22, 2007


My wife Amy and I very much feel that reading needs to be a top priority for our children. We have three boys, Alex (6), Andrew (4) and Gregory (2) who love to have us read to them. We have found that reading allows our kids to step out of the chaotic schedule of the day and focus on learning letters and words, enjoy stories and learning some cool facts about several topics including animals, nature, outer space, planes and trains. Each of our children’s interests are of course different and their reading and comprehension level is very different. Coupled with the fact that our time is limited at night after the hustle and bustle of dinner, baths, etc, and the kids’ bedtimes are all close together, we often find ourselves unable to find the time to read to each child, or spend a very short stint of time with each child. has opened a new opportunity for us. While we do enjoy “reading time” with our children, my wife or i will now work with 1 child at a time on reading from a book while the other 2 listen to audible on my laptop. For example, I recently had one of them reading Charlotte’s Web while the other two listened to Cat in the Hat. After the oldest had read for a while, I had him listen to some passages from Charlotte’s Web (which helped the story sink in), and gave the Cat in the Hat book to my middle son (who had just heard the professional narrator reading the same words). This way, each child got a longer and varied exposure than they normally would.

In addition, our family travels frequently long distances by car and plane, and having these books available in this format provides them a productive, fun and quiet (for the adults) activity for those long hours of travel.


My students seem more engaged in audio

March 21, 2007

Through a grant, I was able to get a set of mp3 players and my middle school science students listen to and discuss audio content several times in my class. In addition, I show several videos throughout the year. I have been amazed that, although my kids seem to agree that the film and audio media I select is engaging, accessible and relevant to the class, the kids seem to be more actively engaged when they are asked to listen than when they are asked to watch. As long as I keep the audio segments short enough, kids generally sit upright, nod, take notes and work at listening. In contrast, they seem more passive when they are watching video. A similar difference is evident in their notes. I create note-taking guides for both video and audio, and kids tend to infer and write more when we listen than when we watch. I am curious if other people notice the same and, if so, why do you think that might be the case?

My experience with and my two-year old

March 20, 2007

My daughter Abby, like many 2 years olds, has an amazing ability to be interested in just about everything. Along those lines, as a parent I recognize that because of Abby’s age and the “everything’s fun” attitude that goes with it, I feel that now is the absolutely best time to introduce her to various forms of stimulation and learning. With regard to developing her ability to listen, it is such a critical skill to have throughout life, yet most often left to chance. In my professional experience, the people who excel in their careers are often the ones who have excellent listening skills – the ability to hear the content of a conversation or meeting and synthesize/retain the information. Ironically, as I reflect upon my own education as I was growing up, only a tiny fraction was dedicated to actual listening skills. As parents, my wife and I of course want to proactively build a strong cognitive foundation for our child, upon which the rest of her education will be built. To do this, we have pursued the normal gamut of developmental toys, interactive games, lots of outdoor time and scores of books which we dutifully (any joyfully) read together. Thanks to the audible children’s book, we have added listening to books as part of our goal to exposing Abby to the things that will help her growth and learning. And just like when we started reading books to her before she could understand what the words meant or what the storyline exactly was, my wife and I started having her listen to stories before she could really comprehend what the storyline was. The goal is exposure to a variety of input. Naturally, with books she is now more able follow the plot, is engaged in the pictures, and is becoming more and more aware of the letters and words that tell the story. Likewise with listening, she’s naturally gaining the ability to understand that there is a person reading a story. She already knows that stories are fun and interesting. The skill builds itself. As a parent, I simply have to choose what types of things she’s exposed to and engage in them with her to “get the ball rolling.” I can’t emphasize enough how important good listen skills are in life.

I have B.S. in Education and have worked as a teacher at the secondary education level. I’ve transitioned into the business world, both private sector and with the government. In all settings I’ve seen the advantages that people with good listening skills have over those who have poor listening skills. I am certain that having strong listening skills is a clear advantage for anyone’s personal and professional growth. It is for that reason that I strongly encourage and support Audible’s growth in educational offerings, including the toddler years.

“Listen with Your Kids Month” Continues: Maguire and Pooh downloads

March 19, 2007

The inaugural NEA/Audible “Listen with You Kids Month” continues.  You can still get the free download of Random House/Listening Library’s “List to the List”, audio excerpts from Newbery Award-winners.  Additionally, we’ve got a couple of great selections through to the end of the month.

Tomorrow we’re going to put up “Goldifox and the Three Chickens”. This is one of the “fractured fairy tales” from Gregory Maguire’s Leaping Beauty. Maguire is the author of Wicked, and this collection of off-beat takes on traditional fairy tales is fast becoming a classic.

On Tuesday, 3/27, we’ll put up our finale:  “In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place”.  This story is from the first volume of Winnie-the-Pooh: A.A. Milne’s Pooh Classics.

Also, last week we added an information page about listening with your kids.  It has recommendations for ways to listen with your child, as well as some literacy research information on the benefits of audio in developing literacy skills.  You can find it from the LWYK homepage (link below) or you can click through directly here.

So stop by and pick up these great free downloads and spend some time listening with your kids.  (And spread the word to any parents or teachers that might be interested!)

We need to TEACH them to listen…

March 16, 2007

I was just doing some research for graduate school and found an article in the September, 2002 issue of Parenting Magazine. The article focused on the importance of listening and made the point that, “Throughout life, listening is the communication skill most used—to gather information, to show others that we care, to do our work. But it’s also the one that’s least taught” (Parenting, v.6 no.7). As a teacher, I give directions, new information, and feedback to kids verbally more than by any other means. And yet, the only way I teach listening is by reading aloud to kids. This makes me wonder, would listening to audio books and audio content help kids further develop these critical listening skills? Should I be encouraging my kids/their parents to regulalry practice with audio books?

Audible and the NEA: “Listen with Your Kids Month”

March 12, 2007

You know Read Across America, right? The National Education Association the month-long program is in its tenth year, and this year it has something extra. Well, this year, it’s a little more special. Audible and the NEA have teamed up to bring “Listen with Your Kids” month. Audible will be providing great free audiobooks for download each week this month, and the NEA, along with other partners, will be bringing the message of spoken word audio to their audience.

This past week, we feature Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are.

Act fast, though, because we’re going to swap this audiobook out with a new one tomorrow. Tomorrow’s audio selection will feature spoken word excerpts of numerous Newbery Award winners as well as an interactive portion in “quiz show” style. Librarians we’ve spoken with tell us that kids really enjoy this series from Random House’s Listening Library, and we hope you’ll like it too.

You can visit Audible’s Listen with Your Kids Month site for updates here:

Check in on the page throughout the month for new information and more free downloads. Later this week, we’ll also be introducing a page of information on listening with your kids. It will include some research-based information on the benefits of audio, parent testimonials, and ideas on the best ways to share a listening moment with your child.

As always, post your comments and let us let us know what you think about this program,

What is this blog about?

February 28, 2007

Hello, world! Thanks for finding us…

We know there are fantastic communities that discuss children’s books, others that share information on audio books, a vast range of educational research communities, and yet others that deal with topics of media literacy or introduce parents and young people to “good” media options. To keep pace with this speedy evolution, we thought that the next step was to offer a place where anyone committed to making sure young people continue to develop strong literacy skills in the 21st century. Given that young people today spend more time than ever with media – and specifically, are outpacing their daily time spent reading with listening (often times on their .mp3 players) – it seems like the right time to share a dialogue about listening and learning.

Our hope is that parents, teachers, young people, academics, and anyone else observing this profound shift can come together to discuss how to take advantage of this movement to develop an interest and excitement around audio books. By embracing technology developments and shifts in media habits, we think we can help young people to build a love for reading, a confidence in their abilities, as well as a strong vocabulary, fluency, and other core literacy skills.

So, our vision is that in this forum, folks can talk openly about their experiences of “doing” audio books with young people (or young people “doing” audio books by themselves!), and through sharing of ideas, best practices, mistakes, favorite listens, and so on, we can all bring this powerful, fun, accessible learning to a wider range of young people, their families, and to their schools.

What do you think?