How to Read-Aloud When You Can’t Read-Aloud

How to sneak in read aloud time when you can't read aloud. Hope and sanity for when a homeschool mom gets sick!

I’m here to tell you a story, my friends.  A story that encompasses much of the last several months…  A story that helps explain why I’ve been so silent here on my blog. {Oh how I’ve missed y’all.} I’ve been sick more in the last several months than I can ever remember before. And we all know that sickness is one of the worst things to happen to a mother.  Thankfully, we are out of the baby phase and the bigger kids can fend for themselves and feed the toddler – now preschooler!  It truly is a blessing when I remember back to what it meant to be sick when you only had littles.

So, yes, this is the story of my summer of sickness. This is the story of a sore throat that simply wouldn’t go away, a story of an antibiotic gone bad, and a story of how YouTube came to our rescue.

It is a story of more sore throats, immense fatigue, and a cough that keeps rearing its ugly head and how audio books have stepped in to help keep us going and preserve my

As we slowly, bit-by-bit made our way across the USA (metaphorically, of course) in our learning adventures this last summer, the stack of books for the Midwest area was piling higher and higher – so many good books that I wanted to read to the kids.  I am embarrassed to admit that with my kids now being 11, 9, 7, and then 3, I still hadn’t read them the Little House on the Prairie books.  They are childhood classics and we simply hadn’t gotten around to reading them yet.  But I was prepared to make amends for this glaring omission.  We picked the first one up from the library and promised to begin first thing in the morning.

And then it happened.  I woke up with a sore throat just a day before we were to head out of town to visit San Antonio.  Determined to not let it squash our little mini-getaway, I took to the couch to rest up.

That is when YouTube came to the rescue! While I lay on the couch, we listened to the first several chapters, read by a teacher.  Mercifully, all of that rest and the copious amounts of Vitamin C consumed that day meant that I regained use of my voice the following day and we continued our read-aloud time with me actually reading on our way down to San Antonio.

Well, that ended up just being the beginning of my summer spent parked on the couch.  That pesky sore throat came back 2 weeks later with a vengeance and after 5 days of agony, I finally dragged myself down to the doctor who confirmed that I had a really bad case of strep throat.  Through that week of unsuccessfully willing my sore throat away, we checked out audio books from the library and took to the couch, yet again!

And then I reacted to the antibiotic and struggled with extreme fatigue through most of the summer which gave way to this cough – a horrible cough in August that took September off before hitting me AGAIN this last month.  It’s been four looooooooooong weeks, friends, with no signs of letting up.

We have listened to many audiobooks in recent months.  It’s been a blessing birthed out of necessity. Actually, we learned that a lot can be accomplished from the couch.  The boys would pull the piano bench over to act as their table and I’d give a spelling list dictation, we’d discuss math concepts and then I actually had them put in a lot of time reading aloud to me, which is also a very important skill to develop.

On the Banks of Plum Creek, Farmer Boy, Our Island Story, and Charlotte’s Web rounded out our read-aloud selections that I did not read-aloud this summer.

In recent weeks, we’ve listened to the amazing, new radio drama, With Lee in Virginia.  It is the perfect addition to our unit on the Civil War! Naturally, that led to boys donning blue and grey and taking to the backyard to re-enact battles while discussing details from their personal reading in addition to this newest favorite audio. #score

With Lee in Virginia cast

And now when reading aloud continues to bring on fits of coughing, we’ve started listening to Swiss Family Robinson.  We love the Disney movie, but the book… Wow.  It has beautifully complex sentence structure and I love how the family’s faith is displayed – something that rarely makes its way into a movie.

So remember this, my friends, because we are all bound to get sick eventually, right? When you can’t read-aloud, there is another way {cue the music} – AUDIOBOOKS! Now I firmly believe that a parent reading aloud to their children is more powerful than simply listening to an audiobook, but we found that by doing this together as a family, it was so very easy to pause and discuss something.  While I will pull out a movie for the kids sometimes when I’m sick (or they are), we are learning that this is an entertaining option that still feeds their minds in a way that screen-time typically doesn’t.

This summer I re-discovered that while life is wildly unpredictable, learning can happen in the midst of it – both in a more traditional sense as well as learning life and character lessons.

Actually, audiobooks have played another important role in our homeschooling this last year, but that is for another post.

So where do we find these audiobooks?

Loyal – I love this site.  It divides books by genre.  So we click on the children’s genre and there are so many old classics on there that can be streamed for free.  It is a store-house for libravox recordings.

Library – Libraries typically have a great variety of audiobooks.  I love to check these out because the kids can stick cd’s in our little cd player and even listen to them on their own.  Professional recordings are usually better than the free one’s at, although we’ve heard some great ones there, too.

Amazon/Audible – you can join Audible and get two free audiobooks during your first month trial and then another audiobook each month until you stop for $14.95.

Here are a few tried and true favorites of ours that we either own or are on our wishlist!

    • With Lee in Virginia – this is actually not an audiobook, but rather an audio drama.  They are professionally produced with a great cast.  We also own In Freedom’s Cause and Under Drake’s Flag.  These amazing folks have taken G.A. Henty books and brought them to life in radio drama form!  I love having riveting adventures that teach history – history that still includes elements of faith. In Freedom’s Cause was a Christmas gift for the boys last year and we are giving a copy as a Christmas gift to a certain nephew this year!  Here is a sample from With Lee in Virginia to showcase what I’m talking about:

  • Chronicles of Narnia – Oh my word.  You will recognize many of the voices reading these unabridged books!  I can’t wait to get this one.  There is a radio drama version too, but I love the original books so much, I’d prefer to go straight audiobook.  Plus it’s 42% off right now.  I need to get back into Christmas gift mode!

Seriously, check out who is reading each of these books: Kenneth Branaugh, Michael York, Alex Jennings, Lynn Redgrave, Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Northam, and Patrick Stewart.

  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang– My sister told me about this one.  The one narrated by Sachs had mesmerized her then 4 year old son for multiple listens during this “afternoon quiet time.”  It is now on my wishlist.
  • Charlotte’s Web – This is a classic that deserves to be read or listened to over and over.
  • Jim Weiss audiobooks – I’ve found many of his audiobooks at the library.  We love them!

Anyone else love audiobooks?  What are your favorites?

Disclosure: Affiliate links used.  They don’t affect your cost, but it helps support my book-buying habit, giving me more great resources to share with you!  The amazing people behind With Lee in Virginia, kindly gave us a copy to listen to, but of course, all opinions (and I have a great many) are always my own.


  1. Thanks for the new books to look into. While it is not a “book”, the Living Principles of America series is something that our family has listened to over and over for about 15 years (it is more like Adventures in Odyssey.) Idk if they are still around, but we still listen to our set from the stone age every once in awhile on an across the country vacation.

  2. Heather,
    I’m so sorry to hear how sick you’ve been. I hope you are on the upswing. Praying for complete healing.
    Great list of resources! I’ll be pinning this for later.

  3. We have listened to many audiobooks over the years but one of my favorite tricks is to invest in books in the form of audio that I feel I just CANT read aloud. For example, listening to Robert Louis Stevensons Kidnapped in a beautiful British accent made it understandable and enjoyable. I’ve read Treasure Island aloud but Kidnapped is much more laborious reading. I’ve bought The Black Arrow (same author) for the same reason, although even the audio of that one was hard to get started on. Also in this category are 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, and Ivanhoe. Don’t tell anyone, but these are all books that hold little interest for me, so I don’t believe I would do them justice as a read-aloud!

    • This is gold and definitely where I’m coming from. I had a hard time reading Swiss Family Robinson personally. I loved it afterwards, but it was challenging to read. It is so much easier and were are making better headway listening to it. I’m definitely doing to take your recommendation on a few of these! Thanks so much!


  1. […] shared about it on Wednesday, when I wrote about how to preserve read-aloud time when you can’t read-aloud.  This has been a season of living much of my life from the couch.  I typically don’t get […]

Speak Your Mind