I still remember when my dad read to us. I don’t remember how young I was when I first heard a book read–it always seemed like a forever thing (like he’d always done it). I also have an “old” black-and-white photo of me (as a toddler) with my grandmother. She’d been reading, and we both fell asleep.

So, I love hearing stories. That wonderful audible aspect of storytelling is memorable and endearing. In my memories, I hear the voices speaking to me as I recollect the stories that they told me!

That’s part of why… I love (and absolutely hate) audiobooks. Here’s why:

  1. Ease-of-Use/Access: Enjoy an audiobook anywhere, at any time. Now, with smart phones, it’s even easier to download and listen to audiobooks! Then, synchronize it with the car stereo, laptop, iPad, or most other electronic devices. Audiobooks are lovely pieces of audible technology.
    Hate: Audiobooks don’t really replace the reading experience (paging through a “real” book).
  2. Background Details: Hear the crickets chirping, the period music, and the slosh of water as the characters sail down the river. Those added details puts us all right there in the setting. We are living and breathing the place and time…
    Hate: The sounds of an audiobook are distracting, even annoying.
  3. Voices: Hear the voices speak–with lilts, tremors and dialects. Listen to Old English (and discover the beauty). The interpretations of inflection and tone are invaluable.
    Hate: If the voice is horrible, the audiobook probably will be as well! it all depends on the quality.
  4. Difficult Language/Names: After reading through the novel and fumbling over words and names, an audiobook lays all those questions to rest. We hear it all quite clearly, particularly if the voice talent is good.
    Hate: If the voice talent isn’t good, the language is just a jumble.
  5. Intense: The audiobook experience is unique and singular. It feels like listening to a play version of the book–with amazing voice talent.
    Hate: The intense appreciation of an audiobook depends on the topic and/or interest level.
  6. Entertaining: It’s just fun entertainment. It doesn’t always need to represent something fabulous. Instead, it may just start you to thinking about when you were a child, and you were listening to a familiar voice (telling you a story).
    Hate: It’s just one of many modes of entertainment.
  7. Learning: An audiobook is just one of the many tools in the kits of teachers, librarians and other educational representatives. Audiobooks allow for critical listening skills. They’re essential resources for second-language students, literacy issues, special needs, and other learning difficulties.
    Hate: An audiobook is “cheating” (or so some would say)–it’s perceived as a wrong alternative to reading a “real” book.

I enjoy storytelling, in whatever form. There’s something about listening to the words and phrases, particularly when the lines were already so beloved. And, I adore the technology–what’s not to love, when I can press a few buttons on my phone and listen to a voice re-creating a novel for me?

Be mindful. Be aware… An audiobook is just one tool for education and learning. It’s not the only one. Reading a “real” book is still important.

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