How to Use Audiobooks for Homeschooling (and where to find them!)

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In our home, audiobooks have been a regular fixture for years. They are not only a wonderful way to enjoy great stories, but they are fantastic tools for homeschooling! If you’re wondering how to start using audiobooks for homeschooling and where to find them, read on! 

How We Got Started Homeschooling with Audiobooks

Using audiobooks for your homeschooling actually takes a little time to build up as a habit. But it’s worth it! Audiobooks are great for teaching, enriching your family experience with shared stories, and cultivating a love for reading in your home. 

We got started using audiobooks for homeschooling out of desperation. As a mom of many who also happens to love literature-based homeschooling, I often found it challenging to do all the read-alouds myself. Not only did I sometimes need a break, but many times I had a baby on my hip or a toddler to keep quiet. 

The practical solution was to find audiobook versions of the literature and curricula we were using! These days, we use audiobooks in the car, at the lunch and dinner table, or just to wind down together and enjoy a story. 

Of course, print books are still incredibly important for learning, so we don’t replace them entirely! But audiobooks have proven valuable teaching tools while also inspiring a love for stories in both audio and print form.

Audiobooks are great for teaching, enriching your family experience with shared stories, and cultivating a love for reading in your home. 

Ways to Use Audiobooks for Homeschooling

There are SO many ways to use audiobooks for your homeschool. A lot of them are also just wonderful ways to create a reading culture in your family. We use audiobooks for literature and history primarily, but also dip into subjects like science, character, and more.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you!

  • For morning devotions, listen to audiobook versions of the Bible and discuss.
  • Gather for group work at the table for homeschooling days and incorporate audiobook versions of the curriculum text you’re using.
  • During lunch or dinner, listen to literature audiobooks, historical fiction, missionary biographies, and more. Tie them into whatever you’re studying for homeschooling as a bonus!
  • Provide a variety of times and places to listen to audiobooks!
    • Around the table
    • In the car on road trips or on the way to activities
    • While playing with Legos or other quiet-ish toys
    • While working on handicrafts like knitting
    • In the living room or bedroom before bedtime
    • While falling asleep (our young boys listen to things like poetry collections, fun stories like American Tall Tales, character-related audiobooks, Bible stories, etc.)
    • Provide old mp3 devices for personal listening of audiobooks anywhere
  • Get audiobooks of their favorite read-alouds to listen to whenever they want.
  • Find literature that speaks to character issues you want to address and listen to the audiobook together. Then you’ll have a story to reference when talking about those issues when they arise.
  • For struggling readers, get both the audiobook and print version so they can follow along. 
  • When introducing books with more complex language (such as Robinson Crusoe for your middle/high schooler) get both the audiobook and print version so they can follow along. This helps build their confidence, get familiar with more complex language and structure, and help with pronunciation. They’ll also often need the print version for reference and essay assignments. 
  • Want to read ahead some of those books assigned to your older kids? Get the audiobook version for yourself and listen as you do chores or run errands! 

Making the Most of Audiobooks in Your Homeschool

How do you actually use these audiobook listening times for extended homeschool learning? Sometimes, the kids and I just listen and enjoy. Others, I add in some intentional learning activities. 

  • Have your kids narrate the audiobook. Narrating just means telling back in their own words what they heard or read. It is an EXCELLENT tool for teaching pre-composition skills. They have to understand, reorganize, and communicate in order to narrate. For younger kids or those new to narration, start with short stories or practice by pausing every few minutes one day. 
  • Use written narration / notebooking. Rather than telling back orally, have them write a paragraph (or one line for each grade they’re in) about something they remember from the story. With written narrations and notebooking, you can also naturally teach other language arts skills such as spelling, grammar, and more. 
  • Illustrate the story or something from it. During or after the audiobook time, have your children draw something about what they listened to! Keep a set of notebooks or sketchbooks near where you normally listen to audiobooks. This is narration, too, just in a different format. Some of my kids like making comic book panels to retell the story. Others like to just draw one illustration. You can do the same kind of thing by building with Legos, forming objects or scenes with playdoh, etc. 
  • Question and discuss. You can simply ask questions after the audiobook time and give each of your kids a chance to answer. 
  • Incorporate into a unit study. Find a unit study based on the book you’re reading, or simply pick something that was in the story and go find some activities about it. You can can find several children’s literature unit studies here. Or you can simply listen to a chapter a day and go look up some fun activities or videos based on what you heard. 
  • Try worksheets or lapbooks. Many times, you can find free or frugal printable worksheets, printable packs, and lapbooks about the audiobook you’re listening to or a related theme. 
  • Go through a study guide or write a paper. For older kids, a study guide or literature analysis could be a good route to go. They could answer questions, write a paper, etc. This can be a great way to combine subjects, too, basing many of your language arts assignments on what they’re already listening to with audiobooks.
  • Use a literature-based curriculum. If you really enjoy focusing on literature in your homeschool, consider a literature-based curriculum and use audiobooks for many of the literature selections. 
Listening to audiobooks for homeschooling and for fun!
“I can listen to two audiobooks at the same time! I’ve done it before!” 😆 she’s totally doing it, too. A horse story for her curriculum and a Chronicles of Narnia. Crazy girl.

Finding the Best Audiobooks for Homeschooling!

Of course, you have to find the audiobooks to start using them. And purchasing all those audiobooks for homeschooling can get pretty expensive!

Here are some places where I often look for audiobooks. 

  • First look at your local library, especially if they have interlibrary loan options. They will have many CD versions available, but several libraries also offer digital versions, such as through programs like Libby, Overdrive, Hoopla, etc.
  • Librivox – You’ll find many books, especially classics, on Librivox. You’ll get used to the various volunteer narrators and the Librivox intros. It can be a great resource to help save money! But sometimes I still purchase a book elsewhere for the quality depending on what I find. 
  • Gently Used/New CDs – Look for used and new audiobook CDs at virtual and in-person used curriculum sales, Amazon, eBay, and other booksellers. Our kids love receiving audiobooks for gifts, and I can often find them gently used. 
  • Jim Hodges Audiobooks We enjoy this membership for the great historical audiobooks (such as G.A. Henty books), Christian children’s books, and more.  
  • Uncle Rick Audiobooks – Our kids love the Character Concepts books as read-alouds. We purchased several of their audio versions and now have the Uncle Rick membership which also has fun history and Christian resources on audio as well. 
  • Raising Real Men – More audiobooks of great literature, history, and character books are on this site! We
  • Jim Weiss We have picked up several audiobook story collections narrated by Jim Weiss. You can find them on Amazon or look for the annual sale over at the Well Trained Mind site.
  • Audible Each year, Audible will allow you to sign up for a trial and get some free credits. Using those credits for larger, more expensive audiobooks can help! Members can earn free credits by choosing 3+ day shipping on Amazon Prime orders. They also get many free audiobooks in their library, and you can often find children’s literature in those selections. Non-members can purchase bundles of credits for later use as well. 
  • YouTube – In a pinch, I’ve found videos where folks are doing read-alouds on YouTube. It’s especially helpful for picture books. 
  • Other audiobook companies to check (for deals, free trials, and more): 

Homeschool Curriculum in Audiobook Format

You will also find that several homeschool curriculum companies provide some of their texts in audiobook format. This can be SUCH a huge help for us busy mamas. Here are some to check out:

  • BiblioPlan for history (we use this and really enjoy it)
  • Apologia (we have used their science and What We Believe series on audio)
  • MasterBooks (they’re starting to put their history curriculum into audiobook format and have a few other selections to choose from as well.)
  • Mystery of History (great Christ-centered history curriculum)
  • Notgrass History (also moving their history curriculum to audiobook format and have two ready to go.)

What Else Can We Add to the List? 

Do you have other resources for homeschool audiobooks I can add to the list? Comment here and let me know! I hope these ideas were helpful to you. 🙂 

~ Tauna

 

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