I’d like to introduce you to another source for great G. A. Henty novel Audio Books – Jim Hodges Productions.
As a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew we were offered one physical MP3 CD from the following G. A. Henty titles:
With Lee in Virginia (1861-1865)
How would you choose just one from this selection? If you are using these for History in your home school lessons, you might use the time era for your starting point. For us, it was to help enrich a personal project. The boys got to travel to Happy Camp, California and take a guided gold mine tour / class/ panning day. They’ve been pretty hyped up about all things mining. So – our choice was simple: Captain Bayley’s Heir ~ A Tale of the California Gold Mines (1850s).
Captain Bayley’s Heir is an MP3 CD for children ages 10 and up. The price of the hardbound CD is $25. The Digital Download is a reduced price of $18.00. As of the writing of this review, Jim Hodges is out of country and can not mail the CD’s immediately and is asking, if you’d like to jump in to a story the next couple of weeks, to start with a digital download.
One thing I enjoy about Jim Hodges Production is his love for literature. If you go to his websites you’ll see many other options from my favorites throughout the year including Yesterdays Classics. His site wants to help you sift Classic Literature into your History. On his site you will find a handy Scope and Sequence Guide to help you with time eras.
I was encouraged by articles on his site helping homeschool parents like myself. My boys, as I’ve shared, are not big on the fictional/ historical fiction reading as ‘fun’. He offers articles like Reading with your ears to encourage you to incorporate Audio Books into your home, or homeschool. We want the boys to listen to rich audio books to help them with infliction of voice, vocabulary, and history. Mr. Hodges also has a Youtube Channel with videos to help the parents and chat about the audio books.
How do like it? How are we using it? Is that what you are asking now?
Well, I am happy to report that we are loving this history audio book. I’ll share below some of our frustrations (proving I am not a technical wizard) but for now, I’d like to share our triumphs.
We are 7 chapters into the audio book, and have been introduced to Frank Norris. He is a young lad from Westminster. We learn about his family and school life. An event (no spoilers) happens at school and he leaves for America, sailing over the Atlantic and lands a job working as a barge man on the Mississippi river. So far, it has been an action packed story, what we have grown used to anticipating with G.A. Henty. We know from the titles of the chapters and the short intro from the site that Frank will move on to the California Gold Mines and return to England. The publisher states that it is an adventure story akin to others who have traveled for the Gold Rush in California – the struggles that they went through, and I am excited to hear more.
If you’d like to make this fit into your history/literature curriculum, you’ll want the Study Guide in PDF format. We were lucky to have one for Captain Bayley’s Heir: (1850s), A Tale of the California Gold Mines which is $12.00. It is a separate purchase.
The story for this particular title is 10 hours and 30 minutes. That’s a pretty long story!
There are 22 chapters that average out to be about 30 minutes each.
The PDF Study Guide goes along with each chapter. So we took each chapter of listening and paired it with the chapter in the study guide.
Vocabulary. Since this was written so long ago, there are many words that the boys are/were unfamiliar with. For instance in the first chapter alone there was Cricket, Fag, Row, Sorties, Din, Remonstrance, Stead, Fortnight, Construe, Treatise, Reproof, Sallied, Comrades, Wont, Magistrate, Condescend, Affrays, Pluck, Coeval, Alcove, and Weal .
The questions may center around geographical locations, characters in the play, learning about a game mentioned, the ships, etc. After you research a topic, there are activities such as writing a report on what you have learned.
It is recommended to get the G.A. Henty Book to read while listening. Sadly, I have not had time to actively look, but I hope to by the time we finish, and would for sure if/when we buy another title.
The Study Guide has 4 sections with 4 quizzes. The quizzes help the student to think about the book in a literature study format and also to help them remember the characters and situations.
You may want to connect with Jim Hodges Audio Books on Facebook – and/or sign up for his email list. His email list is what he uses to communicate sales, new titles and special promotions. On the main website, Jim Hodges Productions, scroll to the bottom and look for the large @ symbol graphic on the left hand side to find the email sign up form.
Now that I’ve told you the amazing things we LOVED about the audiobook and the company – I thought I’d share a few obstacles that we walked through to get there.
This is an MP3 CD, hard copy. We knew this going into the review – however I underestimated my skills at sharing those MP3’s. I had lost my MP3 player and purchased an inexpensive one from a ‘mart’ store. It was crazy hard to figure out where the MP3 player stored the CD. It didn’t see it as an album. I finally went through the guide and found out how to manually put it in a file on the lil player and now all is well. Mp3 players are inexpensive (under $20, could be as low as 5-10 dollars). If you are into audio books, it would be good to have one for this purpose, as we are long past the days of CD walkmans.
Next – sound quality. I was listening to the story with the boys on the laptop while sorting out my MP3 woes. We discovered that through the headphones was the best way to really hear what was going on. Again – probably my faulty older laptop speakers, not a push to the publishing quality – just sharing our experience fully.
The Reader. Most of our reviews for DVD/Video/Audio content has a ‘make it or break it’ point based solely on the voice of the reader/speaker. My boys have turned down listening to ‘heavy breathers’ or folks they just couldn’t follow. This is not quite the end result case with this production, but it did have starting let down. Let me explain.
Learning to Listen. When we first started listening to Audio Books, we found (and verified through research) that there is a muscle used to listen to books being read. Start with small amounts of time (15-20 minutes) and increase from there. Even when the child is into the book, it is hard for them to stop their whole world, and listen. It Is Worth It. Having a child than is able to sit and listen to a person speak for a half hour? Hour? Priceless.
Quick Pace, Unfamiliar Vocabulary. This starts out at a very fast pace. I couldn’t imagine it slower – so that is not a bad thing – just to prepare for a quick start. Think Andrew Pudewa talking at a brisk pace. It is a delightful sound, full of articulation, the correct pauses and inflection, and perfect speech. It’s impressive how long Jim Hodges can keep up this amazing way of speech. Even with folks we meet on the Mississippi river and their accents – we know they are from the south – but my oh my – is their articulation spot on correct. You can hear every single sound of each word, which is truly delightful.
Prepare a spot for the first experience. Some audio books have quite a bit of music and slower pace. It is easier to listen to them in the car, or while doing dishes, or while sorting laundry. With the speakers systems in my home, this was pretty hard. Maybe we have a loud house and October has been storm season to boot. (LOUD). We found that very quite with good speakers was the best for more than one person, but the MP3 Player or my Laptop with head phones was best.
Getting into the story: So far, it has taken quite a long time – almost 4 hours of listening – and we have not been to California yet, and the Gold Rush has not been mentioned. This has been hard to keep the interest of the boys. So although the Gold Rush is what will put the story to right, it is not the entire focus, as we might be used to, living on the West Coast.
Let Me Make Myself Clear – I am blaming my technology – and just assuming that other homeschool moms have about the same equipment. When I use my son’s beats headphones to listen, the quality of the audio is simple amazing. So if you are like me, and you pop the cd into an old dusty sound system, don’t blame the CD, go
steal borrow your son’s headphones.
OK. That was a lot– But I wanted to share our true frustrations in starting. I wanted to share the beginning with you – to make sure you get to where we are now. One of the nifty things about being a reviewer for TOS is that we are accountable to the Vendor to USE the product. We’ve had several products, that at first glance, first use, were frustrating. But when we forced ourselves to make it work – (this case to upgrade some old equipment) the result was a perfect fit for our family.