Last Friday was a banner day for audiobooks in the New York Times. In addition to a feature on narrators, Judith Shulevitz reminisced about listening to audiobooks during long car trips. Choosing titles for the kids gave her a chance to re-read classic tales from The Odyssey to Peter Pan and Ramona Quimby. Better yet, this form of storytelling mesmerized her kids.
Shulevitz’s pantheon of children’s book narrators includes Philip Pullman, Roald Dahl, and Madeleine L’Engle in the category of books read by the author. Favorite voice-actors include Tim Curry, Stockard Channing, and Kenneth Branagh. This is one of the few essays to actually defend abridgements.
It’s disappointing to find an avowed fan of audiobooks agree with her son’s third-grade teacher about “passive listening.” Passivity is a risk in any format. I’ve had some of my most engaged reading experiences when listening to audiobooks, and some of my least when daydreaming my way through print. Listening can be darn hard work.
Parents (or anyone interested in children’s books, really) will appreciate the list of favorite titles included at the end.
Here’s a link to the story: “Let’s Go Reading in the Car.”