Family Read-Alouds and Audiobooks - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Family Read-Alouds and Audiobooks


We all know that there are many benefits to reading aloud to kids, and many of us have experienced family bonding over a really good book. Right now is a wonderful time to find some fun family read-alouds to enjoy over the Christmas break. We’re not talking history-related (necessarily), but just-for-fun classics or modern literature choices that are well-written and captivating. Audiobooks are a good choice too, and make great gifts! 

We mentioned this a few weeks ago, but how about this idea for a really special Christmas gift: Andrew Pudewa (from the Institute for Excellence in Writing), suggests asking a grandparent to record themselves reading a favorite classic, (either on tape or with a digital voice recorder), and presenting that as a gift to a grandchild. Wouldn’t this be an amazing gift to treasure forever? You can listen to his audio download entitled “Nurturing Competent Communicators” to hear more about this and other great ideas. 

We asked a few SLOCA families for their read-aloud and audiobook recommendations and got some fantastic responses. Perhaps you can find something enticing here to enjoy over the break:

Joy Erb (with kids ranging from LMS to a toddler) said:

“We got a classic Winnie the Pooh from the library and started listening. Great vocabulary. Funny how everyone likes it and we have come across two logical fallacies already and are excited to look for more. It's part of the subtle humor of the book.”

Jenny Bischoff (with kids from UMS to Kinder) recommends the audiobook 'Nick of Time' by Ted Bell, narrated by John Shea. “It’s an exciting epic adventure, complete with time travel and pirates – kids (and adults) will be hooked! We loved it and we’re now listening to the sequel, 'The Time Pirate.' ”

Edie Overduin (with kids from HS to Primary) listed these as some of her favorite read-aloud choices:

Peter and the Star Catcher series, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

(we listened to the Focus on the Family Dramatization)

Bud Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Watsons Go To Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine

The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine

Heat, by Mike Lupica

Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt (if you haven’t read it yet!)

Brenda Lunceford (with kids from LMS to Primary) generously took the time to write out her top picks for audiobooks, most of which she found at the library:


Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis (Narrated by Mirron Willis – so wonderful we

purchased it to listen to again when it’s assigned in the 3rd trimester!)

All of the books in the “Ramona” series by Beverly Cleary (Narrated by Stockard Channing)

Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan (Narrated by Trini Alvarado)

Mouse and the Motorcycle (Narrated by William Roberts)/Runaway Ralph (Narrated by B.D.

Wong)/Ralph S. Mouse (Narrated by B.D. Wong), by Beverly Cleary

Kenny and the Dragon, by Tony DiTerlizzi (Narrated by Alan Cumming)

Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi (Narrated by Ron Keith)

The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite De Angeli (Narrated by Roger Rees)

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo (Narrated by Graeme Malcolm)

By the Great Horn Spoon, by Sid Fleischman (Narrated by Willard E. Lape and “Full Cast Audio”,

absolutely wonderful listening experience)

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo (Narrated by Judith Ivey)

The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare (Narrated by Greg Schaffert)

The Castle Corona, by Sharon Creech (Narrated by Jennifer Wiltsie)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard Atwater (Narrated by Nick Sullivan) – don’t ruin this great read

by watching the movie because it changes the original storyline

Matilda Bone, by Karen Cushman (Narrated by Janet McTeer)

The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman (Narrated by Spike McClure, try to ignore his annoying lip-

smacking to hear this great story)


Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (Narrated by Anna Fields) – compare with the movie we’ve all

seen and be pleasantly surprised by the differences.

Sounder, by William Armstrong (Narrated by Avery Brooks) – then watch the 2008 movie with

Martin Ritt and Cicely Tyson.

Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo (Narrated by Cherry Jones) – then watch the 2005 movie

with Jeff Daniels and AnnaSophia Robb.

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George (Narrated by Jeff Woodman) – then watch the

1969 movie with Teddy Eccles and Theodore Bikel, which has some differences.

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell (Narrated by Christina Moore) – then watch the totally

cheesy 1964 movie with Celia Kaye and Larry Domasin.

The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford (Narrated by Megan Follows ) – then watch the

wonderful 1993 movie “Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey” with voices by Sally Fields,

Michael J. Fox and Don Ameche.

Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry (Narrated by Edward Herrmann) – then watch the

lovely 1961 movie with David Ladd and Pam Smith.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick (Narrated by Jeff Woodman) – haven’t watch the

2012 movie yet with Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Thank you to Brenda, Edie, Jenny and Joy for your contributions!

Let’s talk: Do you have any other audiobook or family read-aloud favorites to recommend? Please comment below and share!

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