Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kids' Car Activity: Audio Books

With Easter approaching, families all over the country are planning Spring Break activities. I've shared before about how much my girls loved my childhood storybooks on tape and how books on CD are their new favorite way to pass the time in the Swagger Wagon. Whether your family is planning a big trip or if you'll just be hanging around town (like us), Audio Books are a great way to occupy your kids' minds! I thought I'd share some of the titles we've enjoyed.
A List of Great Kids' Audio Books for Road Trips, at Serenity Now

I've mentioned before that we keep the DVD player in the Swagger Wagon for trips as a special treat to make the time more enjoyable for everyone in the car. It's nice not to hear "are we there yet?" for an hour or so. But the downside of letting them watch movies the whole trip is that we arrive at our destination with two tiny zombies with glazed-over eyes.

The books on CD are such a nice way to combat the car zombies. I don't have to referee fights over crayons or Barbies, and they get to sit and use their imaginations. Don't tell them this, but I'm pretty sure they've learned some stuff too. Imagine that!

I get all of our audio books from our local library. We have an iPhone app that lets me request and renew books, as well as search the card catalog. We can pick up the books we want at our favorite library locations, and drop them in the drive-through book drop when we're finished...easy peasy, and FREE!

Obviously, a few of these are geared more for girls, but many of them are good for boys too! These are some of the titles and series my girls have enjoyed so far:
  • The Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary (great for boys!)
  • Beezus and Ramona and all of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
  • The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Books from the American Girl series
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery
  • The Piper Reed series by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
  • The Disney Fairies series

You will be surprised at how much your kids can comprehend! Michaela Byrd had just turned four when we listened to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And Burnett's writing style in A Little Princess is very dated compared to many of the books children read today. By pausing the CD and asking questions or explaining things every so often, I was able to help my girls understand what was going on in the story. I love that they learned about how people lived in time periods different from them. The girls couldn't believe that Ramona was allowed to walk to school by herself or that Laura Ingalls had to sit quietly all day on Sundays.

And, let's be honest, they don't have much else to do except sit and listen when their movies aren't playing. Sitting quietly and using their imaginations is so good for them! And I really enjoy hearing my childhood favorites over again.

One more tip is to look at who the publishing company chose as a reader. Neil Patrick Harris read a few of the Henry Huggins books that we checked out, and he is excellent. He really captures the whimsy and fun energy of the stories. Stockard Channing read all of the Ramona books, and I thought the voices she used for Beezus and Ramona were too whiny. Some more of the audio books I'm on the lookout for at the library are The Secret Garden, Charlotte's Web, and Ralph S. Mouse.

Is your family a fan of audio books? What are some of your favorites you think your kids would love to hear?

*For more travel tips, you can check out our Car Activity Bag.

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  1. This is such a great idea, Amanda! I'm an audio book lover. And since Henry's come around, I've found myself listening to more books than reading them the "real" way. I think I'll be keeping this idea in my pocket for when Henry gets a little older. I LOVE that you can get digital downloads from the library now, too. So stinkin' handy.

  2. This is a WONDERFUL idea, Amanda! What a great way use that "captive audience" time well! Pinning this!

  3. Great list! There are also many free audio books on booksshouldbefree.com if you have something to download them to for a trip. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an especially entertaining one!

  4. I've been looking for more audiobooks for my 4-year-old son and stumbled across your suggestions. I've been meaning to try out the Beverly Cleary books and your post pushed me over the edge into requesting a couple from the library :)

    A couple others that my son has really enjoyed include:
    Stuart Little, by E.B. White
    The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden
    A Bear called Paddington, by Michael Bond
    The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster


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