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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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Jim R. Moulton's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi

Chris -

I certainly, and wholeheartedly agree! Librivox is great! How about having becoming a contributor? Your students would love it!

Here is another great "audio-literacy" resource: Lit2Go from Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse. http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/

The voices on this one are great - I think they are engaging drama majors from the University of Southern Florida as readers!

Jim Moulton

Amy Klempa's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is great! I have been downloading books from my library for my students to listen to, but the choice of books is limited! Thanks for the information!

Jo Ann's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank you for sharing this. We have purchased MP3 players to be used by our students with learning disabilities. This will be a great tool as we get ready to read Romeo & Juliet.

Jaclyn's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Chris,
I had not heard of LibriVox before. I check out their site and I am very impressed. Thanks for the resource!
Jacky

Stephanie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Wow! I love this site. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am a first year teacher and have been struggling with getting some of my students to read. They say there is mothing interesting to read. I pulled up this website during our reading time yesterday and allowed them to choose a story to download. Most of them really enjoyed it. So I just wanted to say thanks for putting this out there, because if not I would never have found it.

Kathy Kunselman's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

LibriVox is an excellent idea. As a teacher, I have many students who are poor readers. This gives them an excellent opportunity to hear the story as well as following along. I believe it could help with their comprehension.

Kathy Brown's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What an incredible resource! I teach in a youth corrections facility and it's surprising how many of my students have never been exposed to great literature. I can't wait to try it out in my language arts and history courses. Since I am totally new to this type of technology, I have some questions. The website mentions that some narrators are better than others. What has been your experience? How have you incorporated the recordings into your classroom? If my students don't have access to mp3 players, could I just burn the recordings onto CDs?

I also checked out the site recommended by Jim. Thanks to both of you for the great ideas.

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