Record Read Alouds

This year I am S.T.R.E.T.C.H.E.D.

My eldest daughter is completing her Matric (South Africa’s final school year) with Impak (a fully recognized accredited correspondence course) in October/ November.  She has asked me to tutor her in 2 of her 7 subjects and to support her as my primary focus.

My 13-year-old started her high school career, also with Impak, and wants to work as independently as she can, but needs help transitioning in new subjects & methods.  This is a textbook-type education, with an emphasis on graded assignments, tests and exams.  Until this year, we have followed a strong Charlotte Mason approach with living books and we used narrations as our assessments.  She needs upgrades in her summarizing. study methods and exam techniques.  Also, Maths is very intense, with little or no examples and guidance, so I have to tutor her too.

Leaving Miss.L waiting her turn in her school work.  At times, she works on Spelling City on her own and does some maths unassisted, but most our homeschooling is one-on-one, and almost all our core is based on read alouds and living books.

I just couldn’t help everyone at the same time!

I found a solution ~ record her read alouds!

With excellent step-by-step instructions from I was able to record 3 chapters of our current book. Using my Windows 7 sound recorder on my laptop, I could record my chapters without any apparatus or sound equipment.

I simply created an Audio Book Folder for the specific book in my homeschool files and saved each chapter as I went along.  If interrupted, simply stop, and start a new file, continuing with the same chapter, making a new page reference.

I need to set some time aside and record the rest of the book, but I found that it went fairly quickly.

To listen, I simply loaded the chapters on a flash stick and Miss.L inserted this into her CD player’s USB port, and listened quietly in her room to the chapter while I spent time with my other daughters. I could also burn the story on a CD or MP3 disk, or drop the files into our Dropbox so she can listen on the desktop computer.  We all use headphones to listen quietly in the same room.

She simply narrated what she heard when I joined her a little later.

My youngest absolutely LOVES audio books!  My purchase of a & subscription has been the best deal e.v.e.r.  She loves to listen to stories while she plays with her dolls or draws or creates.

So, recording her core read alouds is a real investment – she can listen to them again, and again!

And I can multi-task.

A great practical idea!

(I want to add ~ reading aloud is our homeschool ‘glue’, and the most intimate part of our day.  We read, snuggled together, and enjoy the journey as a family.  This is not replaced by an audio recording.  I still read the other books scheduled for the day with my child.)

Have you any good tips for teaching multiple ages?  Have you any multi-tasking ideas? Please share in the comments.


Shakespeare and Audio Books

List of titles of works based on Shakespearean...

Busy planning for the new year …

This time I’m working on starting a journey with


This past quarter I read Julius Caesar aloud to my Grade 10 daughter. 

We spent several afternoons reading aloud together and we enjoyed the play. 

I was amazed. 

She enjoyed it

Really engrossed. 

No problems with language, weird words,

very little confusion about antagonists and protagonists, plot and themes.


I thought,

now I’m ready to start Shakespeare with my younger kids.

I have ~

  • several Shakespeare plays (some with detailed student notes)
  • the book Shakespeare For Children: Tales From Shakespeare (1879) by Charles Lamb
  • the pdf download  Tales Of Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
  • audio recordings  Shakespeare For The Ears I purchased 2 years ago (remember I confessed that I don’t do it all) from
  • looked at Jimmie’s Shakespeare for Children Squidoo lens

I thought … this is how we’ll do Shakespeare ~

  1. Listen to the audio recording of a chosen play.  Maybe twice or so.  Get a good over-view.
  2. I’ll read the same play from Tales Of Shakespeare by Lamb.  Chat about the story, characters etc.
  3. Finally, I’ll read the play over several afternoons or evenings aloud to the family.  The real thing.  In full.

I listened to some of the MP3 recordings.  They are great.  Well narrated. 

But … I had some reservations …

I felt they were like a meal-replacement milkshake.

They taste ok, give nutrients, but not genuine food.

Books are real food.

Reading your own book or listening to a read aloud

you can taste the words,

chew the meanings,

digest the story

and learn

and grow.

And to confirm my thoughts on this, I came across an excellent and thought-provoking post on Audiobooks by Jeanne at Oh Peaceful Day.  She made such good points – both educational and personal :

Why she prefers to read aloud instead of audiobooks ~

… When I read these stories aloud, I do some judicious editing to remove the profanities and blasphemies, thereby making the classic stories acceptable for their 9 yo audience…

And what do you make of this?

… I can’t see how a child’s reading comprehension improves by listening to a book . Most importantly, I do not see that audiobooks nurture a love of reading. In fact, I am inclined to think they do the opposite, cultivating a lazy child who is not willing to master the mechanics of reading for himself. Miss Mason speaks of this in Home Education:

We must remember the natural inertness of a child’s mind; give him the habit of being read to, and he will steadily shirk the labour of reading for himself; indeed, we all like to be spoon-fed with our intellectual meat, or we should read and think more for ourselves and be less eager to run after lectures.

Home Education p228

Later she says ~

… The real reason that I don’t use audiobooks is because one day when I’m dead and gone, I want J to remember my voice …

… I’m going to stick with read alouds. I’m going to make the most of every minute I have left. I’m going to snuggle together on the sofa with my daughter and read, read, read …

So, I’ll give my plans and the audio recordings a shot.  If it is like candy floss, quickly diluted into a sticky mess, I’ll just pick up the orignal play and read aloud.  I’ll let you know!

It has worked for everything else. 

It should work for Shakespeare.

How have you done Shakespeare with your middle schoolers?  And what are your thoughts on audiobooks?


Carnival of Homeschooling
This post is part of the 314th Carnival of Homeschooling.