Wednesday, April 29

Top Ten Audiobooks for Boys

Our family loves to get lost in a good story!  Half of us are good readers; the other half not so much.  They like the stories, but struggle with the reading aspect.  Which is not to say that we don't continue to push reading skills, but we found that audio books were a great solution!

Audio books are also a great solution for our long travel days when we're gallivanting around the country!  The whole car is quiet and at attention for four to eight hours, depending on the book, which is a really nice treat for the parental figure / driver...

For our struggling reader, we've found that audio books not only help with his comprehension and language skills, but many times he's been inspired to pick up the actual book after listening to the audio book.  He has an idea of what to expect, and his brain is primed to read it.  As an added bonus, for books with hard-to-pronounce names (such as his favorite sci-fi fiction), he already knows how to say the characters' names, which makes reading a bit easier.

The list below are our top ten favorite audio books - with the stamp of approval from a house full of boys! - but it is not exhaustive.  Use these as a jumping off point for finding your family's next listen...

Chronicles of Narnia
Listen to all seven stories in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia in this unabridged 31-CD collection, read by some of the world's most renowned performers:
  • The Magician's Nephew narrated by Kenneth Branagh
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe narrated by Michael York
  • The Horse and His Boy narrated by Alex Jennings
  • Prince Caspian narrated by Lynn Redgrave
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader narrated by Derek Jacobi
  • The Silver Chair narrated by Jeremy Northam
  • The Last Battle narrated by Patrick Stewart
Enter C. S. Lewis's magical world of Narnia. Each of these extraordinary, timeless stories stands alone, but together they are the history of a fantastic world that becomes as real as our own.
The Dragon & the Raven
In a time of chaos and Viking onslaught, Alfred the untested Saxon king must fight to save his ravished land. The tale unfurls through the eyes of a young thane, Edmund, who becomes Alfred's friend and mightiest warrior. When Danes overrun the land and the Saxons capitulate, this young knight trains and leads a devoted corps of pike-men to recapture the kingdom.

On his adventures, Edmund is captured by the Pagan Danes, raises the siege of Paris, meets the Pope, and still finds time to fall in love. G. A. Henty, the "Prince of Storytellers," successfully weaves this plot of intrigue and suspense into the fabric of true history.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea.  Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound.  Once, Indians also lived on the island.  And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.  This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins.  Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away.  But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs.  It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch tells the inspiring, true adventures of Nat Bowditch, a boy during the American Revolution.  Nat's passion for learning and his unstoppable spirit lead him from poverty and servitude to triumph and adventure at sea.  Ultimately, Nat achieves everlasting fame for revolutionizing navigation, thus streamlining voyages and saving countless lives.  Today, Nathaniel Bowditch's 1802 book, The American Practical Navigator, is still carried on every U.S. Navy vessel.  Carry On, Mr. Bowditch paints a superb portrait of life in Revolutionary-era America, but this is most of all a moving personal tale of the value of knowledge and the exultant human spirit.
Otto of the Silver Hand
Young Otto is born into a warring household in a lawless age. Having no mother, he is sent by his father, a valiant robber baron, to be safely raised by the monks until the age of twelve. But when he returns, gentle Otto can no longer escape the bitter blood feud between his father and the rival house of Trutz-Drachen. He is kidnapped by the rival family and his hand is cut off, to be replaced forever by a silver one. Can his brave father and his captor's kind daughter, Pauline, help him escape?

The Bronze Bow
This gripping, action-packed novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. Daniel’s palpable hatred for Romans wanes only when he starts to hear the gentle lessons of the traveling carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. A fast-paced, suspenseful, vividly wrought tale of friendship, loyalty, the idea of home, community . . . and ultimately, as Jesus says to Daniel on page 224: “Can’t you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love.” A powerful, relevant read in turbulent times.
Theodore Boone
In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.
But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.
The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served.
Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy - until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save - or destroy - the Empire.
The Hobbit
The original American full dramatization as broadcast on National Public Radio. Bilbo Baggins, a gentle hobbit who loves the comforts of home, reluctantly joins a company of dwarves on a journey to recover plundered gold from a fierce dragon. It's a tale of high adventure and astonishing courage-and a magical prelude to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Set in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Kidnapped (1886) is a gripping narrative told by David Balfour, a young Whig and Lowlander, who is tracked by his miserly uncle, survives attempted murder, kidnap and shipwreck and, in the company of Alan Breck, a Jacobite, escapes through the Highlands.
Kidnapped is an adventure story in which the tensions run deep, not only between pursuer and pursued, but in ancient misunderstandings between the two heroes themselves: Whig and Jacobite, Lowland rationalist and romantic Highlander.

All of the audiobooks by Jim Weiss are family favorites, too!  We couldn't narrow it down to one favorite, so we recommend the entire series.  He has simpler ones geared toward an audience as young as three, as well as more complex ones (such as this one on the Founding Fathers) for older children.  We have listened to the entire series multiple times, especially during our long-travel road-schooling years!

Updated: Trouble in Paradise

When we got a new car, we had instant issues with our audiobooks!  The problem?  No cd player.  It's a bit discriminatory of companies to just assume that everyone has a smartphone and streaming capabilities...   Nevertheless, we wanted to continue listening to the books we owned while driving, so we searched and searched and finally found this integrated vehicle cd player.  It can be mounted vertically or horizontally in your car.

You have to get one that will work with your specific car, so be sure to check the chart online, but this one - in spite of the additional cost - worked well with our car and allowed us to still use the books we had, without having to repurchase them in a different format or subscribe to a cell service for same reason.  If you're in the minority, like we are, I highly recommending checking it out, as it looks like cars aren't going to be going back to CD players, and our manufacturer insisted that they couldn't install one aftermarket....

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