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Jim Dale’s soporific magic

I’ve always been a big Harry Potter fan, but I never dreamed how much a part of my life Harry would become.

When my first son was born, I was in labor for a week and struggling to stay calm. My mom is a psychologist and also does hypnosis (legitimate hypnosis — not making people bark like a dog on stage). She was trying to help me calm down in the hospital with breathing exercises. It wasn’t working because she was nervous herself about her first grandchild being born and her voice wasn’t steady.

I sent my husband to the library and he got the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Jim Dale. This worked perfectly. I had already read and loved the books. Jim Dale wasn’t nervous at all, and I could slip in and out of the story as needed for urgent procedures because I knew what happened in the books. Jim really calmed me down.

After the baby was born, I was so aggravated with the people who said “sleep when the baby sleeps” because I have lifelong insomnia and it took me hours to fall asleep. By the time I fell asleep, the baby had woken up. I was exhausted — even more than usual for a new mother. Back to the library for Jim Dale. From then on, during the baby’s naptime I just lay down and listened to Harry Potter. It relaxed me, and I was asleep before I knew it. Eventually it started working like magic. I just need to hear it, and it makes me sleepy.

So here’s the embarrassing part. My son, the baby in the story above, is about to start high school. I have been listening to Harry Potter nearly every night since he was born to help fall asleep. I have all seven books memorized. Completely.

It was never something I set out to do, but it’s been great for my insomnia. My husband is less than thrilled about it, but I have special earphones that I can wear while sleeping. I tried other things Jim Dale has narrated and other audiobooks, but none of them were as effective as Harry Potter.

The funniest thing happened when Jim Dale came to the Politics and Prose bookstore while I was working there. I heard him narrate part of the books for an event and got sleepy just listening to him.

Does anyone in your life listen to audiobooks to fall asleep?


More on audiobooks from Family Reading:

Susan Kusel About Susan Kusel

Susan Kusel is the librarian at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia, the children's book buyer and selector for [words] bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey, and the owner of Dream On Books, a children's book consulting company.

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