Bedtime Stories and Audio Books

I had a parenting dilemma a few months back. My oldest son, who is nineteen and living at home while he goes to college, was keeping my second son awake far past his bedtime. They share a bedroom, and my oldest son doesn’t go to class or work until later in the day. My second son is a busy junior in high school and has to wake up very early, even if it makes him cranky. We tried nagging and lectures, trying to get the boys to quiet down at night, and nothing seemed to be working. Then I hit upon some inspiration. I would read them bedtime stories, just like I had when they were little.

Reading bedtime stories to my kids when they were little.

It started out as a joke. I walked in with one of my motivation books one night and read them a story about Cliff Young, an Australian potato farmer, who won an ultra-marathon, wearing overalls and rain boots. They rolled their eyes and pretended not to listen, but they couldn’t help chuckling at the story, and my younger son did go to bed on time. So I kept it up, reading them quick motivational stories each night. We continued for a few weeks, and now my younger son has gotten into a better bedtime routine. I’ve stopped doing it for the last week or so, but I have a feeling that with us Americans starting Daylight Savings Time again this Sunday and having to wake up an hour earlier, I may have to get back into the habit.

My mom read me stories as a child. We made our way through all the Little House books, The Hobbit, The Black Stallion, and many others. I still love to have people read to me, only now I mostly use audio books. Since I’m in the car a lot, driving my kids around, I can make my time more productive by popping a CD into my stereo or bringing along a USB drive with an audio book downloaded. I also love to listen while I’m doing projects around the house. Right now I’m listening while I paint some chairs and a table, but I also like to listen while I clean around the house. It makes me look forward to the chores I dread.

Willoughby reads to Marianne


I’m able to get Austen’s books on CDs from my local library, but I have sometimes downloaded free mp3 files from, a site that shares free public domain audiobooks. As with other sites, the quality of the narrators varies. I loved the narrator for Pride and Prejudice, but some other narrations weren’t as great, so it helps to listen before you download. Librivox also has free downloads of Jane Austen’s other works like Love and Friendship and Lady Susan.

I was happy to learn that several of the Austen authors have audiobooks available for us to listen to. Pam Dixon, Regina Jeffers, Katherine Reay, Sophie Turner, Sarah Price, and Barbara Silkstone have titles available on (Some of these are also available on Amazon and iTunes.) In fact, Sophie Turner’s A Constant Love just came out this week! Be sure to catch that one if you’re an audio book lover.

26 Responses to Bedtime Stories and Audio Books

  1. Reading with your child is so important! I read to both of my kids growing up. My daughter cut me off at about sixth grade, but my son allowed me to keep going all the way into high school. Each child had their own kinds of books that they favored, but I did manage to sneak in some true classics as well. Sadly, neither of them has turned into a bookworm yet. I keep hoping that the happy memories of us reading together while they were young will one day result in them developing their own passion for books.

  2. I love that you read to your boys like that! <3 If I had kids of my own, I’d have read to them at bedtime and asked them to read to me. Great bonding time! 🙂

    I have always hated being read to and having to read aloud. My comprehension drops significantly in those situations. Even as a teacher, it was a struggle to sit patiently while a child (generally with reading problems as I was a Special Ed Teacher) read during class, and when I read to them, they learned to expect that I would have to stop and say, “Wait, I didn’t get that!” I’d make them wait while I reread silently. 🙂

    I never forced anyone to read, either…because I don’t like doing it and I was not going to damage a kiddo’s self esteem or relationship with me by requiring it.

    Anyway, as I said on your FB post, I don’t have my books on audio, though at least one reader has requested/suggested it. I said, and it’s true, that the process is daunting and expensive and that prevents me. I will confess, though, that hating being read to might be a big factor in my decision. 😉 Not even Richard Armitage’s voice is enough to make me listen to an audiobook. I’m a stubborn soul, I guess. 😉

    • You sound like a good teacher, Zoe. I didn’t force kids to read when I taught either, but I kind of learned that the hard way unfortunately by forcing people to read and then regretting it.

      I understand what you mean about your comprehension dropping off when you listen. Mine does too, but I still love audiobooks.

  3. How wonderful for your boys to have this precious experience! I don’t remember having bed time stories.

      • I have to confess using some of my audiobooks in exactly that way, Rebecca. However, it’s never any of my JAFF books as I’d never want to switch them off! Usually it’s Stephen Fry narrating the Harry Potter books, which I have on a rolling cycle for just that purpose (currently back with the Chamber of Secrets). I know them so well and I find the tone and cadence of his voice very soothing. In fact, I usually start drifting off before the sleep timer on my iPod stops the playback.

  4. Your boys are almost the same age as mine. My eldest will turn 20 soon, and the other is a sophomore in high school, which we are doing at home. Fortunately, the two do not share a room anymore like they did when they were little fellas — that was challenging! But a story was often a good way to get them to settle.

    My dad was the bedtime story reader in our family — he even used different voices for the characters. He was really quite good at it! I credit him with my early love of stories.

    I listen to audio books but only if I have first read the book. Skipping ahead to the ending is so much harder in an audio book, and yes, I am a peeker! 🙂 It is also harder to race along to get to the end when listening at a prescribed pace, and I need to know that ending quickly. 🙂 Currently, Austen’s are the ones I spend my time with as I shower, make breakfast, do dishes, get dressed, etc.

  5. My Dad used to read books to my sister and I every evening, many years after we have learned to read. It was a daily ritual we all enjoyed. 🙂 The catch was that he had been reading books of his choice, not ours. 😉 That way we ‘read’ a lot of classics at pretty early age. They are good memories.

  6. My mom used to read to me a lot when I was little so know when I come across a really good book (usually an Austenesque book) that I think she will enjoy I read to her. We both also listen to audio books from time to time and I usually like to do something while I listen to them like crafts.

  7. I read my first Syrie James novel (“The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte”) as an Audible. After that “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.” Her books are beautifully performed. Many people don’t realize that if you purchase the Kindle edition first, you sometimes get a “companion price” on the Audible. I NEVER purchase an Audible without going to the Kindle site first to see if the Audible will be deeply discounted. This Amazon link offers a hundred classic novels that if you “purchase” the specific Free Kindle of that book, you will be able to buy an Audible version for only 99 cents. The trick is you MUST purchase the Kindle first to get the companion price.

      • You’re so welcome. I own 200 Audible audio books. Very, very few cost me more than $3.95. Many were 99 cents. Some, free. Every day Audible has an Audible Daily Deal. It’s the only email I’m sure to open in a timely manner.

  8. I love bedtime stories. I used to make them up for my brothers when we were kids. I don’t think anyone ever read me any, but I tend to fall asleep very quickly. Our parents did read to us, a lot, just not at bedtime. Thank you for the list of Audio book authors in Austen Authors. I was just looking for a new audio book 🙂

  9. I never had books read to me as a child but we read to ours every night. They’re all great readers now. Books are one of the loves of my life!!! I wouldn’t have survived my life so far without them.

    • I’m so glad all your kids are great readers, Teresa. I love your passion for books, and now that you’ve said this, I feel the same way. Books have helped me in so many ways.

  10. I think reading bedtime stories is one of the most important parts of being a parent. My mum read them to me and I spent many happy hours reading to my two children, they loved Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl and the Enid Blyton Faraway Tree books (favourites of mine as a child). My children now read to their boys and though my son’s twins are only 6 months they enjoy it and my daughter’s eldest at 3 loves all his many books. Thank you for such an interesting post Rebecca and happy reading.

    • Roald Dahl is one of my favorites too, Glynis. I read the BFG a few months ago with my youngest, and we laughed our heads off. I have never read the Enid Blyton Faraway Tree books. I’ll have to check them out.

  11. I can’t remember having bedtime stories myself, but we definitely made the effort read to our son when he came along. I read all of the Narnia books to him whilst he was still a baby! Later on came books like The Hobbit.

    Like you, I enjoy being read to by means of audiobooks. They help pass my commutes to work, which I regard as non-productive time otherwise. I think I have all of Pam’s and Regina’s books that are available and am slowly working on the rest!

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