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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Public (Domain) Library: Free Downloadable Audiobooks Online

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger

I'd like to share a Web site called LibriVox, which provides free, downloadable audiobooks from the public domain: Users download the audiobooks in MP3 format and listen to them on their computer or copy them onto an MP3 player. According to the site, "LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the Internet. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audiobooks." Users can take advantage of the full catalog of audiobooks -- about a thousand at the time of this writing.

Because the books are in the public domain, users may listen to them as many times as they want and share them with others. If your students have access to MP3 players, providing them with audiobooks is a great way to encourage their appreciation for some fantastic literature. In addition, you can sign up to be a volunteer reader: Find a book of your choosing in the public domain, and record yourself reading it. The site, started in 2005 for the sole purpose of sharing the love of reading, works on a volunteer basis.

LibriVox is a teacher's dream -- a fun tool to encourage the reluctant reader or inspire your already-addicted ones to explore even more great literature. You'll find Aesop's Fables and the works of Shakespeare, James Joyce, and Rudyard Kipling -- the list goes on and on. How about some Edgar Allan Poe to listen to on the way home from school each evening?

Go have a listen, and let us know what you think.

Chris O'Neal

Educational consultant and former Edutopia.org blogger
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Comments (17)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Chris O'Neal's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Kathy,
I have listened to about a dozen books, and so far so good as far as the narration. One of them was a pretty fast reader, but once I got used to it, it was fine. The others were all very well done.

My daughter's teacher has used these books numerous times for students of all academic levels - enrichment, extensions, back-up for struggling readers, and so on.

Yes, the agreement allows you to burn them to CDs. Isn't that fantastic!


J.P. Tuttle's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

LibriVox is definitely awesome; occasionally, it's a bit annoying when each chapter is read by a different person, and you don't like the person reading the current chapter (or rather, prefer someone who read one of the previous chapters). Otherwise, it's great.

-- J.P. Tuttle

online book store's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

LibriVox is really fascinating.Those who want to listen audio books can download them by downloading them through online.They can have by using mp3 player.

Todd Lewis's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What a nice site and for free. I work for a library system and will be placing a link to the LibriVox site on my web page. It is not too often you find something of value for free, that for letting us know about the site.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks so much for this great site! I am looking forward to getting on to the site and checking it out.

I am sure it is going to be a great extension to any curriculum.

Alicia A.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

One of the teacher's in my school found the web site Storyline Online It is wonderful! Please check it out. The Screen Actors Guild Foundation has made this website available for children.

Carla Picard's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Something that is actually free. Thank you for sharing this site. I am an ESL teacher and this site will help my students. Not only will they hear the English, but they can see the captions as well. This will make reading more enjoyable.

Arnold Grundel's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with you Ms. Kunselman, I think that audio books are an excellent resource for those who are not as good at reading as other students. I think if you get a selection or list of outstanding audio books that you know that all the kids like then you are more apt to show progress with them because they will show interest in what they are reading/following along.

Josh - Free Audio Books's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I had the pleasure of "meeting" one of the co-creators of Librivox on her blog just yesterday. Wonderful lady and a wonderful service. http://kayray.org/category/audiobooks/

Enjoyed your teacher inspired take on Librivox.

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