Using Audiobooks to Expose Children to "The Classics"

We value reading Classic literature in our home.

What exactly constitutes "Classic literature"?

The definition is debated, but a classic usually expresses some artistic quality - an expression of life, truth, and beauty - and has stood the test of time.


I want to expose my children to as many classics as possible before they leave our home, but I have a confession to make: 

So many of the classics have always seemed difficult and unapproachable. 

Does anyone agree with me? 

Listening to classics on audio, however, changed my mind about that. 

Perhaps it some of the difficult language used, the sheer length of the book, or some other stumbling block I've encountered; listening to audiobooks just makes Classical more enjoyable and accessible. 

Benefits of Audiobooks

Using Audiobooks to Expose Children to The Classics

We have been listening to audiobooks for years. 

Most often we listen to them in the car or (when my kids were little) at rest time.

I do not feel ONE BIT GUILTY turning on an audiobook and calling it "school".  This is one of my homeschool mom survival skills - anything my children can do independent of me is GOOD. 

The use of audiobooks offers MANY advantages:

  • an engaging, dramatic reading
  • saves mom or dad's voice (and TIME)
  • some children like to listen to the audiobook while following along in the print book - great for reading skills
  • audiobooks are great for kids with reading difficulties
  • hands can be busy with a project while listening
  • FREE at your local library

Most recently, I have been searching out audiobooks of Classics - books that I might not necessarily read aloud, but books that just seem more approachable on audio.

Make sense?

One book I have had on my list for a long time is Treasure Island

It's such a CLASSIC, and one I know every little boy should have read to them. 

But... I REALLY didn't want to read it.  (There. I've said it.)

I had heard that Treasure Island was a difficult to get through (all that pirate-speak) ... I'm normally not one to shy away from difficult, but with the volume of learning involved in Challenge B this year I have had to lighten my load in other places. 

Sources of Audiobooks

Of course, our favorite source of audiobooks is our library, but we also have a subscription to Audible.

And moms and dads -- listening to books for ourselves on audiobooks is great, too -- which is why I enjoy Audible!

(I wish I would have known a couple of years ago to start some of the literature for Classical Conversations Challenge A with Audible... how great for kids that really struggle with reading. )

Other places we have found free audiobooks (although the selection may not be as good):



Literature Study Guides We Enjoy (& use with Audio)

Last year at The Great Homeschool Convention I picked up several literature study guides from Memoria Press. One of them was for Treasure Island. I've been waiting for a good time to listen to the book with Grant. 

Using Audiobooks to Tackle Difficult Literature

(Don't know if you remember when we read Lassie Come Home using one of these study guides? We created a read aloud door -- so much fun!)

On our last library visit I noticed Treasure Island audiobook was front and center - so I grabbed it and decided it was a good time to begin! 

I love the study guides because they guide us through vocabulary, quotes, and discussion questions for each chapter. 

You can, however, effectively go through audiobooks without these guides.

Keeping Kids "Busy" During Audiobooks

Draw Cartoons to Stay Engaged during Audiobooks

I don't know about you, but one of my children CANNOT physically sit still long enough to listen to a book... oh, it's getting better as he gets older, but it's just not in him to last for very long.

When I offer him a few supplies and a couple of ideas to keep himself busy, the result is generally quite favorable. 

Look at what my Grant decided to do -- cartoon for each chapter. Very clever! 

This is basically cartoon narration! 

He will have a notebook for Treasure Island when we finish full of these narrations.  Don't you love that? 

Of course, you can keep little (or BIG) hands busy in MANY ways....

  • handiwork
  • taking "notes" while listening
  • drawing
  • puzzles
  • blocks
  • Playdoh
  • beading



It's been such a sweet time to relax on our back deck while listening to Treasure Island. The best thing is - I know we are creating memories.

The memories created surrounding a beautiful piece of literature are immeasurable. 


Let Your Kids Do School Outside!

Do you use audiobooks in your homeschool?  Do you have any suggestions or resources to share with the Homegrown Learners' community?