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Sue's Picks

Sue's Picks-Audio


I am life long reader who is dyslexic. I consider myself lucky to be selling and talking about children's literature for a living. I enjoy a wide variety of literature especially children and adult fiction and non-fiction. My picks will travel the spectrum of children's picture books to graphic novels, and from beginner reader levels to the high school and beyond, and every range in between. During the month of May I will be discussing audio books.

I enjoy and love to discover new authors and their books for readers, at all different levels and abilities, including us adults. My Picture Book and Board, and poetry recommendations are at the end of this page. However for the month of May, it will be audio book recommendations only. Read why American Library Association believes listening to audio books is very important for our children to do at the end of this page!

AUDIO BOOKS for Everyoneshoe bird jim dale audio cover

jim dale audio coverJim Dale's voice and as a reader is legendary in the Audio world.

Jim Dale (famously known as the voice of Harry Potter) has recorded many classics like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Around The World in 80 Days, and the original Peter Pan to name a few. (Most new CD's are around $30.00 and audio downloads are $20.00 per book.) Recently, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson decide to write the back story to Peter Pan. And now Jim Dale has recorded their stories too, (3 book series so far). Their titles are: Peter Pan & the StarCatchers, Peter Pan & Shadow Thieves, and Peter Pan & Secret of Rundoon. These audio books about 8-10 hours long each. (see Audible.com for details.) These books are best for kids 6 years old and up. Jim Dale makes these classic stories come alive for today's reader and listener. Its pure joy and delight to listen to his voice.

Both girls and boys, ages 2-10 love to listen to Jim Dale read the following books: James Herriot's Treasury For Children:Warm & Joyful Animal Tales and the newly released, The Shoe Bird-A Musical Fable by Samuel Jones based on Eudora Welty's book. (Recorded here in Seattle)

$36.99 CD from Brilliance Audio, the Dave Barry's Peter Pan & StarCatchers series

Rabbit Ears (recorded stories) rabbit ears audio coverrabbit ears audio cover

Rabbit Ears was established in 1985 sitting around a kitchen table in South Norwalk, Conn. This company's retelling of classic folk tales and stories was done so beautifully many of us in the publishing world were heart broken when they were no longer available to buy in the late 1990's. Then in 2008 Listening Library, a division of Random House gained rights to these lovely recordings. The age range for these CDs are newborn to 10 years old. I have truly loved these recordings. Luckily for us listeners, there are famous actors and actresses who have done the voice work, such as Meryl Steep. Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover for this company, Rabbit Ears. Currently, there are 68 story CDs available.

$12.95 CD to $19.95 (2CDS) from Rabbit Ears.(see www.rabbitears.com)

jim weiss audio coverJim Weiss of Great Hall Productionsjim weiss tell me a story audio cover

Jim Weiss established his company of 42 stories on cassettes in 1989. He has won numerous awards. His recordings tell stories for the very young (18 months old to 10 years old) with parents loving every minute too! Insightful, playful, inspiring and so much fun too! I have heard them all. There's not a weak or bad story in his collection. Each CD is under 61 minutes long. Each recording has the time length of each individual story listed. Some CD's have 10 stories, which means each story is only six minutes long. This length is ideal for the very young, under 2 years old. My children listened to these recordings so often they memorized the stories. And they still asked for Jim Weiss continuously, until they were teenagers.

(see www.greathallproductions.com)

$13.50 from Great Hall Productions on line

Under Five Years Old Listeners

I recommend the following Jim Weiss's stories for this age level: Animal Tales, A Collection of Just So Stories, Tell Me A Story! A Treasury of Classics!, and Uncle Wiggly's Storybook. And to send the wee ones gently off to slumber land try: Good Night! and Sweet Dreams.

I recommend the following Rabbit Ears stories for this age level:How the Camel Got His Hump,narrator is Jack Nicholson and music is provided by Bobby McFerrin.(My son loved this version, and worn out the CD.) Also Rabbit Ears and its: How the Leopard Got His Spots, with narrator, Danny Glover and music provided by Ladysmith Mambazo. My daughter loved this story.

First to Third Grade Listenersamerican tall tales jim weiss audio coverJim weiss so funny audio cover

Jim Weiss's Famously Funny Poems & Stories,

American Tall Tales, King Arthur and His Knights,

Three Musketeers & Robin Hood,

Fairytale Favorites in Story and Song,

and Giants- Colossal Collection of Tales and Tunes.

I strongly recommend the above mentioned CD's by storyteller, Jim Weiss. Your family will truly enjoy all these stories and they will provide hours of enrichment at home and traveling. (each cd is less than 60 minutes)

Rabbit Ears has the following recorded storieskoi kola nut rabbit ears audio cover age group (6-9)

Pecos Bill, John Henry, Koi and Kola Nuts, Paul Bunyan, Annie Oakley, and Song of Sacajawea

I love these books in audio with famous actors and actresses doing the voice work. The local library should have them available too. Most recorded stories are less than 30 minutes long. Some CDs have stories which have been grouped together in sets of two or three, short stories with a total of 60-90 minutes. My children learned their folk tales, and American Tall Tales and classic stories from all round the world from this wonderful company, Rabbit Ears.

$12.99 to $19.95 per CD from Rabbit Ears-Listening Library

swallows & amazons audio cover4th to 5th Grade Listenersrichard peck audio cover

Joan Aiken, Frances H. Burnett,

Richard Peck, & Arthur Ransome,

The above mentioned authors have written numerous classic novels for children and their recordings make us want to read all of them. Often our kids refuse to read certain books for many different reasons, but an audio book is one way our children can learn to enjoy the classics. My recommended readers/voices list are the following for: Joan Aiken's Arabel's Raven read by Shehan Mathan, (157 minutes); Frances H. Burnett's Secret Garden read by Josephine Bailey, (8 hrs); Richard Peck's A Long Way From Chicago read by Ron McLarty, (4 hrs); and Arthur Ransome's Swallows & Amazons, read by Alison Larkin, (10 hrs).

(see www.audible.com for $$)

Full Cast Audio Family founded by Bruce Coville unicorms bruce coville full cast family audio cover(www.fullcastaudio.com)

Bruce Coville, author of over 60 children's books and creator of Full Cast Audio is one of my book groups' favorite author for many different reasons. From his Moongobble & Me series, to My Teacher is an Alien series; to The Magic Shop Books, and Into the Land of the Unicorn Chronicles, most children love his sense of adventure and humor. His books have right proportions of drama, humor, and suspense and with wonderfully fun dialogue to boot. His Full Cast Audio does what no other audio company can do. Recordings with numerous actors and actresses reading their roles aloud as if a live play was performing the novel. This company has won numerous awards for their audio books for other authors too; Gail Carson Levine, M. J. Auch, Jan Cheripko, Eleanor Estes, and Kenneth Oppel,just to name a few.

$30.00 to $70.00 determine by CD's length. from Full Cast Audio

6th to 8th Grade Listeners

Kenneth Oppel's Airborn series recorded by Full Cast Audio (award winners)

Mockingbird Books' Boys Book Group loves all three books in this series by Kenneth Oppel. Oppel is a Canadian award winning writer of seven books including: Airborn, Skybreaker and Starclimber. Starclimber was the April selection for the Boys Book Group since many of the boys had already read the previous books in the series. Many parents also love to read these books with their children. If there's a long travel trip in your family's future, please listen to Oppel's audio books.

$65.00 to $75.00 from Full Cast Audio see www.fullcastaudio.com or ( www.audible.com)
(10 hours, Airborn; 11.5 hours Skybreaker; Starclimber coming soon)

Robert A. Heilein's Have Space Suit, Will Travel

Written in 1958, Robert A. Heilein's classic science fiction novel is brilliantly recorded by Full Cast Audio. This author of Outer Space drama is the reason why our current sci-fi movies look and feel the way they do. Its a wonderful way to introduce the back history of Science Fiction to our children with his audio books beautifully recorded by Full Cast Audio. Other books available are:Red Planet, Star Beast, & Rolling Stones (7-10 hrs)

$60.00 CD from Full Cast Audio www.fullcastaudio.com or (see www.audible.com)(8 hours)

jane austens audio covercharles dickens audio cover


High School and Up Listeners-

Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Alexander Dumas,

Yes it is possible to enjoy listening to the Olde Classics, if the readers/voices are so very exceptional that they never fail to pull the listener into their world of literature. My favorite readers for the high school age and older are: Cassandra Campbell, Walter Covell, John Lee, Anton Lesser, and Kate Reading. It is possible to search for audio books by the narrator which will provide a more pleasing choice for our teenager's ears. I suggest the following classics: Mansfield Park, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen; David Copperfield, Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; Count of MonteCristo, and Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas.

$20.99-$49.99 audio download see www.audible.com

Humor for entire Family-audiohank the cowdog audio cover

Hank the Cowdog, narrated and written by John Erickson will drive all the blues away for any family member in many highly entertaining ways, too! I am not exaggerating when I say, these stories told by former rancher author, John Erickson are some of funniest stories you may ever experience in your life. There are over 50 stories about the Hank who thinks he is in change of the ranch, not the humans who live there. All the farm animals are great characters and their interactions are colorful and oh so funny!! Please listen to one recording of the Hank The CowDog series as soon as possible. Many little people as young as 3 years old have loved these books.

$15.99 from www.audible.com (average length 2-3 hours) each book

terry pratchett audio bromliad trilogy audio cover

The Bromliad Trilogy (Truckers, Diggers, Wings) written by Terry Pratchett and read by Stephen Briggs (he is Terry Pratchett's book voice).

These recordings are brilliant for the little older and more sophisticated listener. The storyline is about little people (nomes) who must find a new home after living in a department store for 100 years. Famous author Lloyd Alexander stated about this series,"Terry Pratchett has created a wild adventure, fable, fantasy and elegant satire." The entire family with older children (age 8 plus) will love these three books especially in audio when read by Stephen Briggs!

$39.99 from www.audible.com (average length 3-4 hours) each book

Picture Books recommendations-Audiobarefoot books audio cover

Washington State has just posted their Children's Picture Book Choices for 2010. It's usually 20 favorite picture books from the previous year. My two favorites are on this year's list and they are local authors too. Bonny Becker's A Vistor for Bear,and Kirby Larson's Two Bobbies: a true story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival. Please read them both as soon as possible.

barefoot book audio book 3 coverbarefoot book audio book cover 3My favorite Audio books for the very young include Rabbit Ears & Jim Weiss recordings however, there is another company I adore. It's BAREFOOT BOOKS from England. It was established by two British moms in 1993, who loved quality art and children's literature. These high standards still hold true to this day. Some of my favorites, all narrated by Canadian award winner musician/storyteller Fred Penner: Dragon on the Doorstep, Here we go around the Mulberry Bush, Journey Home from Grandpa's, and Walking Through the Jungle. (each 5-7 minutes, and average price is $6.99-$10.99)

Barefoot Books also has Tanya Robyn Batt (2004 storyteller award winner) from New Zealand, who has narrated three books for Barefoot Books. They are: Child's Book of Faeries, The Fabrics of Fairy Tales, and The Faerie's Gift. These three books and their recordings are wonderful for ages (5-10) and each 51-62 minutes long.


Poetry -Audiojack prelutsky poetry audio frog wore red suspenders book cover

For years now, you have treasured A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, do you know the poetry of our local poet laureate Jack Prelutsky?

Jack Prelutsky's newest poetry book is "The Swamp of Sleethe: poems from beyond the Solar System", out now.

Jack Prelutsky's poetry is available in audio format and is an excellent choice for travel and rainy day afternoons. Jack Prelutsky is a wonderful poet and narrator because he is so young hearted and never grew up!! (I mean this in the bestsense of its expression). If you ever can experience Jack Prelutsky live please do so, you will never regret that opportunity!

My favorites are: My Dog May Be A Genius (61 minutes), It's Raining Pigs & Noodles,(69 minutes) and The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders,(47 minutes).

see www.audible.com for $$

American Library Association states Audio Books Can...

There are many reasons why audio books are very important especially as a learning tool for increasing reading comprehension. American Library Association states that audio books are very important for beyond the enjoyment factor for teenagers too.

Its list why are the following reasons: it removes any stigma of lower reading levels or "Uncool" genres; increase vocabulary skills; improves speaking and writing skills; introduces storytelling, and story construction; engages imagination by allowing students to create mental images of the story which increases reading comprehension; improves listening skills,necessary to a multimedia world; makes mundane tasks like chores more tolerable; keeps students informed of popular books or releases of favorite authors; improves ability to multitask and complete assignments simultaneously; and listening is an important step for becoming a life long reader! And all stated by Pam Spencer Holley, Past President of YALSA.