Does your family listen to audiobooks?
Cathleen Jackson is guest-posting today sharing how she was (unexpectedly!) able to connect with her kids and deepen conversations through car rides and audiobooks. Plus, she includes some great audiobook suggestions!
In January of 2017, when my daughter was in the third grade, we moved to a different town. Our commute to school went from 10 minutes to 25. We quickly adjusted to the time difference, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was wasting two hours of every day. For most car rides my daughter read to herself while my son played with toys, and I just drove, letting my mind wander and worry about all the things I could be doing.
Around the same time as the move I was having trouble reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Remembering that sometimes it’s easier to listen, I rented the audiobook from the library and finished it. It took my brain a few months to say, “What about audiobooks for the kids?” I told the kids about the idea, but Lucy wasn’t sure. She thought it might be boring. Noah was little. He sat still when we read to him, but he was able to look at the pictures. Would it be boring for both of them? I figured it was worth a try.
I looked for a book I thought both of them would enjoy given their age difference. I found one of my childhood favorites, The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. It was one of the few books I remember reading over and over again. Well, they loved it. My son sat quiet for the whole car ride and was even able to retain things, telling my husband all about the story. He remembered names and details like the color of the motorcycle. Lucy didn’t think it was boring after all, she said she could see everything happening as if she was watching a movie. We moved on to the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. My son and I even listened to our own book together after dropping my daughter off at school. The Tail of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo. My little guy loved it so much that he wanted to listen to it again with his dad and sister. We did, on a road trip to visit family and it became a favorite.
After about six months of listening to books, I began to feel a little guilty about our car rides. My daughter would hop in the car and say, “Okay, let me tell you about school as quickly as possible and then we can listen to our book.” I couldn’t help thinking if I should be using this time to talk with my kids. I know how important reading is, but we were reading other times. Was I wasting quality time?
Then came the questions.
Lucy would pipe up during dinner and Noah would ask me things while grocery shopping. When Hiccup encountered a boat of slaves in How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm by Cressida Cowell, Noah asked about slavery. Hiccup said it was wrong, but what really were slaves and why was it bad? During Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas, we talked, and cried a little, about having to grow up and the things you bring with you and the things you might leave behind.
But it wasn’t all serious.
The kids kept trying to figure out what was going to happen to James in James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl. They would give me details and have lengthy discussions on why my theories wouldn’t work. We laughed through Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and when it was over we were telling our own crazy tales about trips to the grocery store.
Those snippets of car rides encouraged the quality time I was wanting for my family.
Laughing and crying together has a way of bonding you with your kids. And then there are the topics that are tough to discuss no matter your age.
Listening to audiobooks opened the door for me to talk to my kids about delicate subjects and equipped me to give examples that were age appropriate. It also provided opportunities to be silly and creative with them. We used our imagination and made up our own stories. We drew and colored what we thought the characters looked like.
Summer is here, and I won’t lose family time just because car rides are infrequent.
We will find shorter books to listen to while we run errands, go outside the box and listen to a book by the fire-pit or replace a movie night with book night. And for the road trips planned this summer, on the packing list next to toothbrushes and underwear will be audiobooks.
Audiobooks for Families :: How One Family uses Audiobooks to Deepen Conversation and Build Relationship is a guest post written by Cathleen Jackson of Pearls for June.
Cathleen’s love of reading came from her mom. Her favorite memories are the different voices that came out of her shy, quiet mother. Cathleen never liked her own voices, but she still read out loud to her kids. Listening to books brought back those happy times. Audiobooks gave her that too. Find her at her blog, Pearls for June, Instagram, or Goodreads.