Sunday, December 14, 2008

Audible: Jim Dale reads Harry Potter

One more quick note about listening to books. This one especially for parents of children of the age to read the Harry Potter series.

My oldest daughter began the series when it first came out. She was all of 11, maybe 12. Only a short way into the first book, she proclaimed, "Daddy, you really should read this. It's great!" Well, it was, if nothing else, a phenomenon. I was resuming teaching duties as an assistant professor of English, after a five year hiatus, first as Federation Liaison to the Klingon Empire at Camp Pendleton, California, then as a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia. I didn't have a lot of time for leisure reading. But I do believe in staying involved in my children's intellectual lives, and I did know about Books on Tape (these were my pre-Palm, pre-Audible days). So, I gave the first book a listen.

Whatever objective judgment I might ever have made about the "literary" qualities of J. K. Rowling's work were lost in the delight of Jim Dale's ability to breathe life into every character and scene. I was hooked. I've listened to every book in the series. I have, officially, bought for myself, more of these books on CD than DVD's of movies, of any sort, ever. My daughter would read the books, and then listen to the CDs. Sometimes more than once. We would listen to them as a family on long road trips.

Jim Dale has won just about every award there is for his work on this series, and he has deserved each and every one.

Bottom line: if you have children reading these books, you owe it to yourself to enter their world and share it with them, and there is no better way than through the audible versions and the phenomenal work of Jim Dale.

For those who might be interested, I am currently listening to the second book of the Twilight series because my youngest daughter is a fan of that. Listening to it simultaneously with The Age of American Unreason. Now there's a contrast. You may also be interested to know that within the college English department where I used to teach, there were at least half a dozen of us who were fans of Rowling's work, including at least one I can think of with no children at all.