I have been a big fan of audio books for our children for a few years now. It started with the purchase of an Adventures in Odyssey boxed set (about 12 hours worth of audio) for a trip to Florida during the time we lived in Colorado. Prior to living in Alaska, I would regularly (once or twice per year) pack the children up and drive home to Florida for a vacation. These trips would usually coincide with a lengthy trip Michael was on, such as a deployment or training school. This would provide a bit of a break for me as my family is in Florida, but would also give the kids a change of scenery and some distraction while Michael was away.
When I discovered the gloriousness that is audio books and audio stories, I had already done a couple of these trips. Driving with 3 children from Colorado to Florida was no easy feat. It took me 2.5 driving days, along with stops on those two nights. It required parenting, navigating, and meeting all the childrens’ needs by myself. YES, I am crazy – but when you’re a military wife and you want to see your family, you do what needs to be done! These CDs came into my life at just the perfect time. All 3 kids were capable of talking, bickering, and touching each other by this point and there are only so many activities a child can do on an endless road trip before they start to get cranky.
When we started our first Adventures in Odyssey series (since we lived in Colorado near the Focus on the Family headquarters, we had quick access to purchase any CD ever released), I was shocked at how well the children paid attention and were so utterly quiet! I loved this effect so much that before I left Florida to return to Colorado, I found a Christian book store and purchased another set to get us home. No, they didn’t listen the entire time in the van, but quite a few stories were heard on that trip!
When it came time for another trip, I added another set and we listened to them randomly. One CD from one set, then the next from another, etc.
After we’d done this for a few trips, I started looking into audio books at the library. By the time we were living in Ohio we had jumped into audio books full force. We have listened to so many wonderful books on our trips.
But, we don’t just listen to them on trips. Truthfully, there’s always an audio book or story of some sort in our van CD player these days. A couple years ago, I discovered that my children are much less distracting to the driver, they fight less, and they are generally quieter when there’s a story playing. Yes, there’s always a story in, but that doesn’t mean we’re always listening, we do listen to music too, but sometimes mama just needs quiet!
Audio books have been especially helpful during the last few months. As a homeschool family, we generally have a few days a week that we’re home and don’t go anywhere, but breast cancer changed that. We have had weeks at a time that it seems we have spent endless amounts of time in the van driving from one appointment or friends’ home (for childcare) to the next. In addition to the extra time spent driving all over Anchorage, my brain has spent a lot of time being mush. While I’m feeling a lot better now, and am much more tolerant of the interruptions, there was a point where I couldn’t handle any of that.
I do look back to the beginning of our audio book days and wish I had kept a list of everything we have listened to. It has been some really great stuff. We’ve listened to easy stuff like The Magic Treehouse series, classics like The Wind in the Willows, and the Little House series, and other fun fiction such as The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Wizard of Oz, and Mary Poppins, and historical fiction such as books from the Dear America series, and many other books. Basically, if the content is something we deem appropriate for our youngest (6), I check it out and we listen to it.
We are currently listening to The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. This week has proven to be a super busy week and I drove more than a hundred miles on Tuesday! An appointment 23 miles south of our home and then gymnastics 32 miles north of our home meant spending more than two hours in the van and The Jungle Book helped pass that time and sustain my sanity!
If I had to guess, I would say we are nearing a hundred audio books/stories.
Do you listen to audio books with your children? If so, what are some of your favorites?
** No one is paying me to say any of this!! We love Adventures in Odyssey and audio books, in general.