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Listening

When I was a child in the early ‘70s, there were few-and-far-between resources aimed at kids and little media and content aimed at children. (We were Xers after all and at the bottom of society’s ranked needs.)

There were books, of course. Some from eras prior. Some published recently, but the vast numbers of books and shows and content aimed at children when I was a child compared to now? I’d be surprised if it was even 1 percent of what’s available now.

But my mom, valiant as she was in her efforts to make sure our piles of books to read were always full, would make sure we got to the library regularly, weekly, to get return the 10 books (per kid and per card) just borrowed, and to get 10 more out.

She was also really good about checking out the few kid-focused recorded books available at the library. The options then were shockingly limited: Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH, 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp and a few more. We listened to these stories again and again … and again and again. There truly weren’t that many kid-focused recorded books then.

We played with our blocks and listened to the Lady and the Tramp. We did art projects and listened to 101 Dalmatians. And we made mazes and races for our gerbils and listened to The Rats of NIMH, knowing our gerbils weren’t even marginally as intelligent as their not-too-distant cousins from NIMH.

In a world where TV was offered on three stations, cartoons were only on Saturday mornings and no videos, internet, online games, apps or streaming services were available, the stream of books I read and that handful of recorded books were the background of my elementary school years.

After blowing through college in three and a half years, I was done with books. I didn’t want to read anymore. I’d had my fill. Fortunately–very fortunately–I got scolded by someone in my 20s who was shocked that I wasn’t reading. He gave me some attitude and it was well-deserved. I loved reading and I had stopped doing so.

I read for another decade or so, but the combination of needing readers to read comfortably, endless hours on the internet and a mostly white-collar life of content, information, writing and reading had caused my interest in reading, once again, to wither.

I have found audiobooks to be a lovely bridge back into reading. I’d rather forgotten how lovely it was to get lost in a story told by a great reader (whose voice I also love … I can’t listen to a book if the reader’s voice irks me.)

This past week I listened to James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain. I loved it so much that I turned right around and listened to it again! (FWIW, I think Adam Lazarre-White did a fantastic job narrating the book.)

What audiobooks do you love?