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Why I Love Audio Books

Why I Love Audio Books

Ben Buchanan

Author and game-creator Ben Buchanan, who has dyslexia, writes of the virtues of audio books.

Today I have been listening to The Miserable Mill, one of the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Trouble Begins by author Lemony Snicket. I have already listened to the first few in the series and I have listened to the second one more than once. And now, I am also listening to the third one again.

The reason I like audio books is because I enjoy them more. First of all, you can do a lot of things at once. Kind of like eating while you are watching television. What I usually do the most while I am listening to audio books is playing with toys, especially Legos, cleaning my room, playing on my computer, making a meal for myself, and doing homework. The reason I listen to books on tape so much is because it is so much easier and more fun to do so. For me, it doesn’t take as long to listen to a book as it would to read it. On most books-on-tape, there is only one narrator - usually an actor — who does all the voices. Jim Dale (who does all the voices of the characters in the American audiocassettes of the Harry Potter books) is an excellent reader and does every single voice with such feeling. On other books on tape, there are a group of actors who do the voices, like in the His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass — a trilogy by Philip Pullman.

When I was making my Harry Potter game, I only had the first Harry Potter book on tape. And I listened to that over and over and over again, as I created my game. That was so enjoyable because I was on two different levels of Harry Potter - listening to it and making something that had to do with it.

When I read by myself, I sometimes imagine the voice of the characters as I read. As I listen to a book on tape, it feels as though they are speaking right into the middle of my imagination. I can tell that because I feel connected to the story. When I listen to a book on tape, it is easier to understand jokes or puns, and other forms of humor in the book because I am not distracted by other words or things on the page (like a picture or other writing or a food stain). It is easier to understand more parts of the book when it is a book on tape because of the way the person says the words - they provide clues to the mood of the characters.

Sometimes everyone in my family gets sucked into listening to the book that I take out from the library or my Mom takes out for me. We listen to it in the car and sometimes we keep listening to it in the house because we don’t want to stop. And sometimes they, like me, listen to it over and over. For instance, with Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis and Holes by Louis Sachar my family was trapped by the story - the story was so good we couldn’t stop listening to it.

When I was in New York visiting my grandparents, two of my friends were coming to visit from Texas for my birthday party. But their flight got delayed. It was about 1:00 a.m. and I was listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I fell asleep waiting for them. I have always found that it sometimes is hard for me to go to sleep, but when I was in New York I discovered if I couldn’t get to sleep I could listen to Harry Potter because I know it so well it is sometimes boring. It also puts a spell over me that comforts me.

For all of these reasons, books on tape are a big part of my life.

Top favorite books on tape:

Ben Buchanan, despite dyslexia, is the child author of two books inspired by the popular Harry Potter series, My Year with Harry Potter: How I Discovered My Own Magical World and Journey to Gameland: How to Make a Board Game from Your Favorite Children’s Book.

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