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Growing Heroes & Helping Weaknesses - the positive habit of audio adventures w/ guest Jim Hodges

If you’ve known me for awhile, then you know that I’ve been living the mom life for almost 27 years. From those nearly three decades of raising seven children, I would rank what we’re talking about today in my top ten habits that shaped my children’s character, shaped their worldview, their wisdomthe application of knowledge, and shaped their life pursuitstheir perspective on venturing into the unknown, setting goals, being obstacle over-comers.

Click to listen to Episode 48: Today, we’re talking about making quality, wholesome, character-building AUDIO ADVENTURES a routine part of your child’s life. Our family has had many family adventures thanks to our podcast guest this week! He is a professional voice performer and one of my family's favorite story tellers, Jim Hodges of Jim Hodges Audio Books. Jim & I have a lively discussion about lots of things, including how weaknesses in our kids can lead to great adventures, a game-changing tip for slow readers, and the impact of quality content on the shaping of our child's character!

(Check out Jim Hodge's SPECIALS at the end of this blog post! - A FREE Download & a monthly subscription service that saves 66%!)

I often tell you on this podcast that the background noise in your home is not merely wallpaper – the meanings of the words are making an impact in your child. You want the CONTENT of that background noise to build up your child’s HEART, SOUL, and MIND.

Don’t settle for the current trend in kids' content, either. I have a lot of concerns about much of what I see in popular kids’ material these days – Beware of content with ✔bad attitudes, ✔bad belief-systems, and ✔bad character displayed in the main characters of the stories.

What your kids watch, listen to, and read, shapes their worldview.

I want to encourage you to have a high standard with the words and concepts that your children are exposed to and the frequency and duration of that content. How often are they hearing it, and for how long? How does that compare to the amount of wholesome content they are hearing?

Soon I'm going to be sending off my fifth child, telling him "good bye, you've got this!" on the steps of his dorm two states away from me. One of these days you’re going to be the one standing on those college steps hugging the neck of your child. What will their beliefs be about the world, about God, about their neighbors, about themselves? Their beliefs and decisions will be based on what they have observed and experienced in all the moments and days and years leading up to that moment.

Your days are limited with your children. Their days of childhood are limited. When we listen to a lot of quality audio books, they are living many adventures and learning many lessons and growing their interests and expanding their understanding of the world.

WHY am I so passionate about incorporating the habit of audio adventures into the lives' of my children?

🍌I want to expose them to a large vocabulary and quality writing,

✔writing that has complex thought,

✔that stimulates vivid imagination,

✔that makes them think beyond themselves to generate compassion and even make heroic choices in their life.

You know, quality stories, especially TRUE historical stories, can produce wonderful character qualities in kids such as empathy, compassion, determination, and most importantly, WISDOM. Wisdom is knowledge that is being applied well.

If we have our kids listening to the lives of true heroes who do what is right in the face of evil or danger or temptation then they grow their own standards to a higher place.

There are so many character qualities they can be inspired toward IF what they are listening to is material that inspires good character.

I also want the material to introduce them to new topics or take those topics to deeper places. excitement and love for discovery and experience. For example, at the beginning of my interview with Jim Hodges, we mention one of his audio books, St. Bartholomew's Eve which is a fascinating story of religious freedom. It could be that a child wouldn’t understand the concept of religious freedom nor know that it is something to protect, if they hadn’t gotten to live through the pages of history by listening to this audio adventure.


Top Five Benefits of Listening to Audiobooks – by guest Jim Hodges

You know listening to audiobooks can be fun, but did you know listening to an audio book has lots of other benefits? Here are my top 5.

#1 Benefit: Audiobooks Save Time!

One of the greatest benefits of audiobooks is that you and your kids can save a lot of time by multitasking - provided the other tasks do not require too much of your attention of course!

Think driving to soccer, piano lessons, or church, nap time or bed time, or family time in the evening.

Other times people love listening to audiobooks is in the gym, or while going for a walk, or while carrying out their daily routines like cooking or cleaning.

The best routine I've heard is from a mom in South Carolina:

Every day, while making and eating lunch, Mom puts on the next chapter of one of my Henty audiobook recordings. Everybody gets to listen to a chapter while making and eating their lunch. Chapters are typically 30-40 minutes long so that works just about right.

After the chapter is over Mom gets to ask questions to make sure everyone is following the story. She also defines new vocabulary words (or looks them up!) or clarifies relationships between characters or shows on a map where the action took place.

Once the book is completed and everyone's had a chance to listen together as a family, they have a drawing to see who gets to listen to it alone first, and then everyone takes turns listening on their own devices when it works for them.

Everyone hears the story. Mom gets to ensure they all followed and understood it. She also ensures that the moral lessons exemplified are clearly understood and emphasized, that there is a connection made between good morals and good outcomes.

# 2 Benefit: Audiobooks Improve Pronunciation and Fluency.

While the narrator reads, you will notice and learn, quite passively and accidentally, the way he is pronouncing different words.

Not only that, but you will notice his ✔reading speed, ✔his pauses, ✔stresses, and ✔intonations, which are very crucial in having fluency and command over any language.

What you may not know is that, as the narrator, I spend nearly a month preparing a book for recording before I ever turn on a microphone. While reading the book quietly to myself I'm underling words I'm not sure how to pronounce. Specifically I'm looking at the names of rivers and mountains and cities and actual people from history.

I own a regular dictionary, a geographic dictionary, and a biographic dictionary which I use to look up unusual words, places, and people. It's been a huge help to me. There are also sites on the internet where you can ask "how to pronounce _____."

If your children follow along in the text of one of my recordings, they will see that words often are not pronounced the way you'd think based on their spelling! Think Versailles. It's pronounced ver-SEYE. Who'd have thought that? Nobody, unless they were French.

# 3 Benefit: Audiobooks Are Wonderful for Struggling Readers

There seems to be a increase in the number of people diagnosed with reading difficulties.

Maybe, just maybe, it's really that we are just better at identifying their issues.

It is now widely believed that Thomas Edison, Nicolas Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, and Jules Verne were all dyslexic.

There was no diagnoses of course, but all the evidence appears to be there.

Do you think they would have loved audiobooks? I'll bet they would have!

Do you have a child who is a struggling reader? Or who has been diagnosed with dyslexia or any related issue?

What benefits would accrue if you included audiobooks into their day?

# 4 Benefit: You Get an Interesting and Lively Experience of the Story!

Not to toot my own horn (well, maybe a little) the personality of the narrator can really enhance the flow and feel of a story!

My goal when I record a book is to translate the written word into mental pictures for you - of people and places and situations, and also help you to understand the plot better.

When you are watching a movie, everything is done for you. Facial expressions, tone of voice, actual appearance of a character, seeing where the story takes place - no imagination required!

On the other hand, when listening to an audiobook, it's almost entirely up to the reader to take the words of the author, and help you visualize all that in your head.

Of course the author's descriptions form the foundation of the story, and many authors are quite descriptive, which is really helpful, not only to the listener, but to the reader.

If it weren't for the author's description, how would I know anything about the character? How am I supposed to translate that into their voice, their attitude, their story?

The narrator's job is to get into the author's head - to take the words of the author and accurately present the story and bring the personality of each character to life.

I do this with character voices of course, but also by varying my inflections, emphases, pauses, accents, and cadences.

SO much of a story can be told with those elements, in addition to the actual words spoken.

When a narrator uses all of the tools available to him, it really does transform the words of the author into an interesting, lively, and fun experience for the listeners!

# 5 Benefit: Audiobooks Build "Critical Listening" Skills!

Not surprisingly, listening to audiobooks assists in the development of listening skills!

In life, it's vitally important to be able to really listen when people speak. Whether it's a teacher or pastor or parent or employer or friend or spouse, truly listening is one of the most important skills you can develop.

First and foremost, you want to ensure that you completely understand what is expected of you or what an authority over you has required of you or what your friend or spouse is feeling. If you haven't developed the critical skill of listening, how are you going to know if you got the information right?

Anyone can just listen to a story or a book. However, the purpose for listening, or reading for that matter, is not just to be a recipient of a story or information - that's great for younger listeners for sure and what many people refer to as "pleasure reading" or "pleasure listening."

But eventually, we all need to develop the skill of analyzing the logic of the information being transmitted, determining if the author has "made the case," so to speak, and judging the accuracy and legitimacy of the information being shared.

I've been recording books for 20 years now. I love reading out loud and believe that by listening to audiobooks you can greatly enhance your home by saving you time, improving your pronunciation skills, helping your struggling reader, experiencing a great story, and building your critical listening skills.

About this week's guest, Jim Hodges: Jim Hodges is a committed Christian, husband to Monica for 40 years, father of 3 grown home-schooled children, and Navy retiree. Monica once asked what his dream job would be? He answered "I'd record books." And so began Jim Hodges Audio Books, producing (at last count!) 30 unabridged recordings of the G. A. Henty historical novels, plus 50 other family friendly recordings.

Join Jim's Monthly Club for getting 60% off your choice of a monthly download:

Get a free download of Jim's recording of the entire historically accurate book “Under Drake’s Flag” an adventure novel set within the story of Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe by G. A. Henty at this link:


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