Feb. 5 is World Read Aloud Day! This is an exciting day for the author part of me. I’ll be celebrating by reading to children in classrooms from some of my most loved books, which is one of my favorite things to do. But while World Read Aloud Day gets a lot of attention with teachers and parents to promote reading in children, it’s really a global movement that should be treated as a party for adults too.
There are numerous studies that show how reading aloud offers children enormous benefits, but listening to stories has huge benefits for grown ups as well. Personally, they completely changed cleaning the house for me. It’s actually fun now! I’ve always liked gardening, but with audiobooks, I even like mowing the lawn. According to Psychology Today, listening to stories even helps adults boost their mental health. It reduces negative thinking, breaks down stress, develops empathy, and keeps us young. Sounds magical? I agree. A great gift idea? Definitely. Especially when you can make it personal, like with The Voice Library.
So here are 3 ways to give the gift of stories—yours and others—plus a bonus idea.
Audible is perhaps the best-known supplier of audiobooks. The Amazon company is subscription-based, and with the monthly price, you get one audiobook and two Audible Originals. If you want more, you can buy additional audiobooks at 30% off. You can also swap any audiobook you don’t love, and because you’re buying the titles with your subscription, you can keep your library even if you cancel. Gift subscriptions are available for 1 month, 2 months, 6 months or a year. Audible audiobooks can be played on phones, tablets, and Kindles, but one of my favorite things about Audible is that you can listen to your books on your Echo or other Alexa-enabled device. That makes listening while you’re cutting up onions super easy.
I gave my father a subscription to Audiobooks Now for Christmas a few years ago. What I like about this service over Audible is that you don’t have to have a subscription plan, you can simply buy your favorite audiobooks at low prices. You can download your books to listen on any device or stream through their website or free apps and their selection is great.
The Voice Library is perhaps my favorite way to listen to stories, because it allows you to listen to personal stories from your family or give the gift of your stories to others. The storytelling service allows you to easily record your stories as part of your legacy, interview family members for a family gift, edit your recordings and share either publicly or privately. Your recordings can be combined with images to make a slideshow, if you’d like, and they can be downloaded for your own use. Imagine if you’ve got a loved one in the military. You can give them the gift of being able to record themselves reading to their kids. Imagine being able to record your grandparents’ stories and share them later with your children. The Voice Library makes it easy and gives you a more professional recording than if you did it with your phone. The best part is, the cost is really reasonable.
For free audiobooks, take your loved one to the library and get them a card. I borrow audiobooks from my local library all the time. It’s a wonderful, cost-effective way to listen to lots of books, and my library has a fantastic selection. Overdrive is the company that provides audiobooks to most libraries, and their new Libby program makes it so easy. Libby is available as a free app download for phones or tablets, and you can sign in to multiple libraries with one or more cards. You stream rather than download your audiobooks, so the page you’re on in a book can be synced over multiple devices so you can listen with your tablet at home then continue the book on your phone in your car.
Do you use any of these services? Which are your favorite audiobooks?