Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Websites - LibriVox

This first of my Wednesday Websites posts is featuring LibriVox. LibriVox is an amazing resource to anyone that loves, or even just likes a little, to listen to books being read aloud. Don't have time to read Around the World in Eighty Days for that school project? Listen to someone else reading it. LibriVox has 3 versions of it. Want your children to be exposed to good old fashioned books like Kipling's Just So Stories or Fisher's Understood Betsy but find your voice is gone due to a Spring cold? LibriVox has multiple versions of each. Want to make good use of your commute time to work? Let me suggest Little Women, Call of the Wild, Pygmalion, or Treasure Island. Working on learning a foreign language? LibriVox has many titles in a number of languages. I've seen Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.

All of the above mentioned titles, plus many more with more being added regularly, are available on LibriVox to download for free in mp3 and Ogg Vorbis formats. The files can be played on your computer, mp3 players, many cell phones, iPods and other iStuff, and probably other technology items I am forgetting. The catch? LibriVox only records titles in the public domain, that is writings that no longer have a copyright on them. So, the majority of the titles available on LibriVox will be from the early 1900's or earlier. Still, that's when so many books that we call "Classics" were first written, so you will find lots and lots to keep you busy. The second catch is that LibriVox recordings are done by volunteers, so titles available are limited to titles that people have volunteered to read and record. It also means that one book may have a different person reading each chapter, and some volunteers are better at reading aloud than others and some voices and accents lend themselves to some books better than others. What do I mean? Well, one of the versions of Little Women has an Australian man, with a very thick accent, reading one of the chapters. Somehow a book about young women set in the late 1800's in the USA just doesn't sound right with a masculine down-under accent. No offense to the volunteer intended, but it just didn't work. However, I would love to hear him reading a collection of Banjo Paterson's works. His poetry just doesn't work in North American English.

Anyway, check LibriVox out. Download a book today. Increase your cultural literacy and don't spend a dime. Have fun.

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