Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stories Worth Listening To

Last spring, I went to the library searching for some audiobooks to play for my children in the car while we're driving in the car.  I found a few recordings that we loved... The Railway Children, The Mercy Watson Series, and the early books of The Magic Treehouse Series.  But, as I continued to look, I struggled to find stories that were age appropriate, interesting, and entertaining for all three of my children.  I tried a few different series, but my children didn't enjoy them.  They were scared of Adventures in Odyssey (I have very sensitive children) and they weren't able to follow the recording we listened to of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

When I was looking for something for us to listen to, a friend offered to lend me the Story of the World on CD, recorded by Jim Weiss.  I never got around to borrowing it, but the idea stuck in my head.  A month ago, I discovered that Jim Weiss has recorded so much more than the Story of the World series.  He has actually recorded a large and varied selection of stories--just what I was looking for.

My children and I have been listening to four of these recordings for several weeks now.  At first, they weren't sure what they thought.  But, after we'd listened to the Tall Tales CD all the way through, I began hearing requests from each of them to listen during their afternoon rest time.  Over the next week, I'm going to be posting reviews of the recordings we've been listening to.

Today I'm going to begin with the American Tall Tales CD.  Tall Tales are part of our country's heritage and they're truly enjoyable stories for children.  Jim Weiss recorded four stories on this CD:  Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, and The Fastest Draw in the West.

Before he begins telling the stories, he explains what a tall tale is and how they began.  As a mom, I loved the stories because they were entertaining.  As a homeschooling mom, I loved that Mr. Weiss gives an introduction that upper elementary children will understand.  The introduction will help them fit these stories into the framework that they're minds are developing about the history of our country.

These stories are not radio theater.  They are audio books.  But, they are also more than "just" audiobooks.  Weiss does a wonderful job of speaking with varied inflection and tones.  It's easy to tell when he's speaking for different characters.  My children are 3, 5, and 7 years old.  I don't know that my 3 year old fully understands the stories, but he does enjoy them.  My 5 and 7 year olds do understand the stories.  

On Weiss' website, Greathall Productions, there is a listing of all of the storytelling recordings that is divided by age.  I love this feature on the website.  The Tall Tales CD is listed for children 5 and older.  I agree with that rating.  But, younger children will still enjoy listening along.

Honestly, I was surprised and disappointed that I couldn't find a lot of audio books at our local library that I felt were appropriate and educational for my family.  But, I have been so encouraged to find Jim Weiss' recordings.  There are so many stories I want my children to hear and often we don't have enough time during our school day to read them aloud or enjoy them.  Listening in the car is one way my children get the chance to still enjoy these stories!  

Greathall's recordings are available on their website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and also on CBD.  

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of American Tall Tales from Greathall Productions for review.

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