Talking books tend to be a winner for dyslexics readers big and small. For adults, they can be a way of enjoying reading without stressing your vision or working memory. For children, especially reluctant readers, they’re a great gateway into the wonderful world of books.
So, whether you’re looking for yourself or your dyslexic child, here’s a quick rundown of the best options (free and paid) for accessing audiobooks:
Your local library website
If you’re a bricks-and-mortar type who prefers to browse the library in person, you might not be aware of the wealth of completely free audiobook options available online via your library.
Of course, services vary according to your local area, but in my experience, libraries are increasing their online audiobook collections every day. You’ll probably need a PIN to access your library account online, so if you don’t have one, speak to your friendly local librarian and he or she will get you set up.
There are no fees for books and, usually, no waiting. Just hit download and you’ll be listening within minutes.
LibriVox is sort of like Project Gutenberg for audiobooks. Volunteer readers narrate out-of-copyright books for your listening pleasure. Best of all, they’re completely free.
Of course, maybe you’re not in the mood to listen to classical fare like The Iliad, but there are plenty of well-loved children’s books, too, like Alice In Wonderland and Five Children and It.
Listening Books is a UK charity that provides audiobook services to people who find it difficult or impossible to read due to illness or disability. And, yes, that includes individuals with dyslexia. During the application process, you simply need to write a short message explaining how dyslexia affects your reading.
Many charities have reduced-price audiobook libraries that are open to dyslexic people
Packages start at £20 a year (for unlimited downloads and streaming of audiobooks), or opt for postal options as well for £45 a year.
If you’ve used Listening Books in the past and found it hard to navigate, take heart! The website has recently undergone a huge revamp, so it’s now a lot easier to use.
Young Calibre is the junior wing of another UK charity, Calibre Audio Library. It has a range of 1,500 audio books and it’s open to anyone under 16 with dyslexia or other disability which makes it difficult to read ordinary print.
To listen, you only have to pay a one-off joining fee of £20. After that, there are no subscription fees at all.
The books are available for streaming, or from a postal library. Through the post, the books arrive as mp3 files on USB memory sticks or data CDs.
Audible is the audiobook juggernaut and for good reason. If a book exists in audiobook format, it’s probably on Audible. The selection is huge, with more than 200,000 titles available.
With subscription plans starting at £7.99 per month, it’s a little pricey. A standard subscription gets you one book a month, but if you’re not enjoying it, you can return it for a different book. What’s more, if you find you’re not getting enough use out of it, it’s possible to pause your account (for 3 months out of 12) and stop paying for a while.
Whether you’re looking for a subscription or not, it’s still worth checking out Audible’s free trial, because you can instantly download any audiobook for free. (Don’t worry, if you don’t want to keep the service, just cancel within a month to avoid paying for the next month’s subscription. It’s easy to do.)
Which audiobook services have you used? Let me know your favourites in the comments…
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