Monday, June 6, 2011

Listening and Loving It

I was careful during the school year to keep us supplied with audio books from the library to play in the van. We have nearly an hour in the van just about every time we go anywhere, so we had lots of time to fill. On our way to and from choir, we always listened to our composer CD, but we usually had at least one other trip to town each week.

My children have been disinterested in listening to me read long books. They suffered through The First Four Years (Little House) (because it wasn't available on audio book and they asked me to read it), but they find it difficult to concentrate when it's just me reading long selections. (Hopefully First Son is ready for more of that next year as I think we're increasing our reading next year.) In the van, though, they are confined to their seats and can gaze calmly out the window while listening to someone much better than I perform a story.  I've tried audio books at home, but find the children are easily distracted and spend so much time making noise themselves that they have not listened to the story at all. So the van it is.

Here's our list for first grade, including a few we took along on our Christmas vacation:
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Long Winter (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder - You would never believe how interesting this book is, given that nearly nothing happens beyond darkness, wind and hunger. If you ever find yourself struggling to feel grateful for heat and enough food, spend a little time with this book.
  • Little Town on the Prairie (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • These Happy Golden Years (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I think this is my favorite Little House books - everything seems so calm and pleasant.
  • Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
  • Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary
  • Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
  • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney - Kansas Dad and I didn't enjoy this book very much, but the children liked it.
  • How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell - First Son thought this book was hilarious, but I wish I had waited a while to share it with the children. It had been too long since I'd read it, so I didn't remember it properly. There's a bit more antagonism between the friends than I would like my seven and four year olds to hear. They didn't seem to imitate it, though.
  • Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne - I had been reading these poems at home to the children's delight, but they loved listening to a professional recite them even more. Even Second Daughter started reciting them during her games. Despite the popularity of the title, I had been unprepared for how wonderful the poems are. Mr. Milne knew what it was to be a young child.
  • Green Eggs and Ham and Other Servings of Dr. Seuss by Dr. Seuss - Frankly, I thought many of the Dr. Seuss poems lose something without the book
  • .Rascal by Sterling North - Kansas Dad and I enjoyed this book tremendously. We often stopped to entreat First Son not to follow in Sterling's footsteps, but much of the tale is idyllic. Please be sure to share this tale with your young boys!
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - I was hesitant to listen to this with the children at first. I wasn't sure First Son would be interested enough in a young girl from India and her sickly cousin. He seemed to enjoy it very much and I realized again how much I love this story. I'd forgotten quite how much "magic" is mentioned and invoked, but the "magic" they speak of is quite easily explained as God's intervention. It is a lovely story of sunshine, bright thoughts, redemption and relationships.
Though I love reading "older" books with my children, please remember to discuss how people of different races and cultures are portrayed, discussed and treated in them. In fact, that's not a bad idea for all books, even with young children. We found this with parts of the Little House books and a bit in The Secret Garden.

I find myself excited for our drives, knowing we will be able to listen to the next part of our story. I highly recommend finding good audio books to make driving more enjoyable for everyone.


  1. I was thinking about audio books as we driving out your direction this past weekend. I would love to do audio books, but most of our car trips are 5-10 minutes max, so I just don't see it working...

  2. I also try to keep stocked with audio books to listen to in the car. Then you can really count your driving time as school time! We've had more than a few times sitting in the van in our garage listening to the end of a chapter. Sometimes they would ask if we could go somewhere so we could listen to the next part of whatever book we were on at the time. We are on Little House on the Prairie right now, after listening to Little House in the Big Woods. We also recently listened to Charlotte's Web, read by the author. They all liked that one, too.

  3. Monica, you might be able to listen to poetry on short drives like that.

    Janet, thanks for reminding me about Charlotte's Web. I haven't decided yet what we'll listen to next.


Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!