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Audiobooks Bring the Joy of Reading to Your Busy Life

I was getting my children ready for the pool yesterday when I got an email notification on my phone. It had been a stressful day with both kids home, including working on a project with a looming deadline, trying to do something educational with a 5-year-old and 9-year-old, and the constant meal and snack prep. With a sigh, I checked my email, sure it would only add to my to-do list.

Then I squealed with joy.

The hold I had on the audiobook for Clap When You Land had come in! I immediately downloaded it and began the blissful experience of a good audiobook. At this point, it should be obvious that I am a self-proclaimed audiobook addict. I have listened to over 500 of them!

If you are not an audiobook convert yet, maybe you just aren’t that into books. Another possibility . . . maybe you are a “book purist” who maintains that only “real” physical books count. Either way, I am going to try to convince you here that audiobooks are the solution to your reading woes.

For more ideas about summer experiences you can do while learning at home with your kids, visit the main page, Charter a Summer of Learning.

Audiobooks Help You Read More

We all know that reading is important for kids and adults. Reading can improve our children’s academic success and social skills. Even for adults, reading can increase empathy, memory, vocabulary, and knowledge on a range of subjects. During these difficult times, it is also important to note that reading can decrease anxiety and stress and improve mental health.

Happily, lots of research suggests that audiobooks are just as good as print books. A 2016 study found that memory for book content did not differ between “real” books and audiobooks. We also know that audiobooks can reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, in an age when we are constantly looking at screens, listening to audiobooks may be equally or better at improving mental health because they using a different sense—hearing rather than eyesight.

Furthermore, who has time to read these days? With camps, museum, and parks closed down, kids are always home and everyone is busy. It can be nearly impossible to find time to sit down with a book and read more than a couple of pages before being called away to make yet another snack or resolve another sibling tiff.

Multitasking with Audiobooks

Audiobooks to the rescue! You can listen to them anywhere—while you do housework, take a walk around the neighborhood, and in the car. Just trying to cook dinner with your eyeballs stuck to How to Be an Antiracist or walk the dog while traveling to 1950s Cuba in Next Year in Havana. Good luck with that.

And because we know that books have positive impact on cognitive and emotional health, audiobooks are extra helpful because we can check things off our to-do list at the same time. I can’t read a book while making dinner, sweeping the house, or grocery shopping. I can get through a couple of chapters of an audiobook in that amount of time, though!

One of the advantages of audiobooks is that they can greatly increase your reading. I can listen to audiobooks all day long, whereas I only sit to read a print book after 9 pm when my children are down for the night.

Accessing Audiobooks for Free

Audiobooks are very easy to get for free if you have a portable device and a library card. The OverDrive and Libby apps make searching and listening to audiobooks a breeze! Just download one of the apps on your device, search for a title, click “borrow,” and start listening! Talk about the ultimate contact-free transaction. Learn more about the San Antonio Public Library’s e-resources here.

listen to audiobooks while working in the kitchen

Narrators Bring Audiobooks to Life

A great narrator can make an audiobook a uniquely pleasurable experience. My favorite book of all time is Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the audiobook narrated by Ruby Dee is an absolute joy. Some audiobooks have famous narrators, such as The Dutch House read by Tom Hanks, Anne of Green Gables read by Rachel McAdams, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe read by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The amazing Octavia Spencer reads part of The Help.

Other audiobooks have an amazing full cast, including Daisy Jones and the Six, Red at the Bone, Lincoln in the Bardo, and American Gods.

One of my favorite types of audiobooks are memoirs read by the author. Becoming, Born a Crime, and Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love are all amazing. To me, there is nothing better than listening to a fascinating person recount their experiences in their own voice.

There are many great audiobooks for kids as well. The Harry Potter series narrated by Jim Dale is a big favorite. Other great classics include the Little House series narrated by Cherry Jones, Charlotte’s Web read by E.B. White, and Matilda read by Kate Winslet.

Audiobooks to Expand Your Mind

In the current political environment, you may be looking for easy ways to teach our children about antiracism. Novels like The Watsons Go to Birmingham narrated by LeVar Burton, The Hate U Give by Bahni Turpin (who has narrated many other outstanding books!), and All American Boys can complement nonfiction books like Stamped and biographies of important historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks.

OverDrive has many great nonfiction books for those of us homeschooling our children. During our week learning about oceans, for example, I was able to find a different short fiction and nonfiction book for each day. The kids were happy to have something different to do and listening to the books felt like a treat.

There you have it. Audiobooks are just as good as “real” books for enriching our lives, and we have a mind-boggling selection of excellent choices for us and our kids. I hope I have convinced you to join me in my audiobook addiction. Now, everyone be quiet so I can finish The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu—the most aptly named book ever.

Before I press play, please comment with your favorite audiobook! Did I mention an audiobook here that you are going to try?

Read More About Audiobooks and Reading

“Host a Book Swap,” Carly Friedman, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 9, 2020

“How Can Audio Books Boost Mental Health? We’re All Ears!,” Sarah Rayner, Psychology Today, April 30, 2018

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Carly Friedman’s interview with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats.

For more ideas about summer experiences you can do while learning at home with your kids, visit the main page, Charter a Summer of Learning.

About the Author

Carly Friedman is the Pre-Health Professions Adviser at St. Mary’s University and an avid reader. She updates her goodreads account regularly. She has two children, Miriam and Sam, who also love reading, riding their bikes, and interrupting mom’s Zoom meetings. Would you like some book recommendations from Carly? Email her!


Jul 13 2020


All Day

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