Yes, there are podcasts, radio talk shows, great music, and a whole slew of other stuff to listen to, but nothing beats audiobooks. They’ve been my savior with a “small s.” (Jesus is still my one and only Savior!)
First of all, they have made those long commutes, carpools, and carlines (and now even the short trips) not only bearable, but often enjoyable. After reading Sarah Mackenzie’s book, The Read-aloud Family, I was encouraged to not only enjoy an audiobook by myself, but to pick a book and have everyone listen together while in the car, even on those short trips. I’ve been careful to pick ones that everyone can enjoy, even the teens. Recently we’ve listened to a book on Echo. Its audio version even has musical accompaniment, and I highly recommend it.
Our library offers many of these titles not only as CDs but also digitally. It uses an app called Hoopla. I can borrow these audiobooks and download them from the comfort of my own home onto my iPhone so that I have them available whenever I need them. You should see if this app is something your library offers. It’s definitely worth the price — it’s free! They don’t have every title available, but plenty from which to choose. And did I mention, free? Also, you don’t have to worry about losing books or forgetting to return them. It’s all automatic. What more could a busy mom want?
My immediate family under the age of 14 still living at home finished 21 Balloons at the end of summer as it was a required reading for our Catholic middle school. All of us enjoyed the audio version — although we heard many complaints from those who found it “boring” to read. This was perhaps because we were stuck in the car together, with nothing better to do, and we found the narrator delightful.
No, this shouldn’t replace actual reading. My kids do plenty of this. All of my children from age 30 down to 6 are always in a book. It’s our preferred activity. In fact, when you find us on vacation at the beach or camping, most often you’ll find a number of us with book in hand. This summer alone, I’ve seen them reading East of Eden, The Brothers Karamazov, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (again!), The Kingkiller Chronicles, The Nightingale, Hatchet, and The Maze Runner — and I cold go on. … I mention this lest you think that listening to books will keep your children from reading. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The Read-aloud Family book was a great reminder and encouragement to me to keep on with this.
Another way I’ve been “saved” by audio books is by my personal listening. I now sometimes look forward to “having” to do the dishes or laundry because it gives me an opportunity to listen to a little more of my story. I recently finished The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but on the downside, I thought it was a little repetitive. You can’t complain too much about that if you are listening to it versus reading it, since you are “stuck” folding clothes anyway. I also finished The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers. This is Christian romantic fiction at its fluffy best. Talk about escapism. That was my “summer clean-out” go-to that made that task tolerable.
I finished my summer cleaning by reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I also really enjoyed this. Small parts of it were not for younger ears, so be warned, but I really liked the contrasting view of the different mothers. It was a little like Mary vs. Martha. And it made me consider which mother I’d rather be.
A final way that I’ve relied on audiobooks is for bedtime. I know I should be reading books to my kids at night myself, and I often do, but I also let them listen to a few chapters of an audiobook before nodding off to sleep. It’s become part of their bedtime routine. They don’t seem to mind going to bed, because they know there’s a story waiting for them. Usually we get these as CDs from the library so that they can only listen to one side of a CD. If we don’t have any CDs left to listen to and haven’t gotten back to the library, I’ll download a 45-minute story on the Hoopla app on my iPad and set it outside their rooms in the hall. Another feature of the app is that you can time it to shut off in 15 or 30 minutes. From the library, my daughter loves all of the Magic Tree House stories and has listened to every one multiple times. My boys have listened to all of the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and the Hobbit multiple times. My children have also listened to all of the Holy Heroes saint stories this way from our purchased CDs.
Of course, we can’t let ourselves and our children escape from the reality of friends, family, and homework. I’ve not seen this happen — but I suppose it could. I’ve found that when we listen to a story together, it builds a special bond as we’ve “shared” this experience together. We can laugh together, cry together, despair together, and triumph together. It’s just like when you’ve been on a special trip together or experienced the same thing. Books shared can open up many conversations and experiences that our present reality does not offer. And let’s not forget that this positive experience of books sticks with children and turns them into book lovers.
So yes, those audiobooks have been wonderful! Have you enjoyed any great “books on tape” recently? (Remember when they were called “books on tape?”)
Copyright 2018 Tami Kiser