Books on CD

In 2006 I had one of those change-your-life conversations.  We were heading to Jacksonville, Florida for a 3 month rotation as part of my husband’s residency training.  We would drive our family there (from Minnesota) and back, as well as make multiple trips to Orlando to go to Walt Disney World.  A friend of mine had done the same rotation and recommended listening to books on CD during the long drives. This suggestion had a huge impact on not only that rotation but the rest of my parenting career!  From then on, we have listened to books on CD anytime we had a long drive, and we learned to love them.  We were able to “read” so many more and different books than we could read at home. Listening to books on CD provides many of the same benefits as reading aloud to your children (see Read to Your Kids).  Children are enriched and educated by listening to the stories and the language. They easily absorb the vocabulary and syntax knowledge.

In preparation for our road trip and three month rotation, I borrowed or downloaded a stack of books on CD, and we had such a great time listening. I can still hear in my mind some of the voices and sounds from those books.  It made the car time fly by!  And, as an added bonus, bickering between the girls was greatly reduced.  They were so enthralled by the books that the time went by quickly and they didn’t think of arguing with each other over small problems.  My girls loved listening to books on CD so much that they started asking me to rent them so they could listen in their rooms.

A road trip is the ideal time for listening to books on CD, although sometimes it’s fun to do around town. However, hearing snippets of a book in between errands isn’t as attention-grabbing as listening to an hour or more at a time.  Try to find books at your children’s listening level.  This is usually a step or two above their reading level.  Look for books that your child will be interested in, and think about the length of the book, also.  If you read to your child often, he will be able to listen to longer books.  There are picture books on CD at the library that come with the book.  Thumbing through the pages of the actual book could help younger children listen longer.

There are various ways to get books on CD: buy them, borrow them from the library, download them from the library to your computer and burn onto discs, use an app like Audible and purchase audio books, or use an app like OverDrive and rent audio books from the library.  The restaurant Cracker Barrel has books on CD for purchase, and you can return them to any other Cracker Barrel in the country and get a refund, minus a small rental fee.

Our love of books on CD began before DVD players/TVs in cars were common, so we didn’t have as many options for car-ride entertainment.  But I would still recommend listening to books on road trips.  Watching movies can be a good way to pass the time and entertain children, but books on CD have substantially more educational benefits.  As I wrote in Read to Your Kids, words that children hear repeatedly will be easier for them to recognize when they start learning to read.  Having them listen to books on CD adds words to their listening vocabulary reservoir, which eventually overflows to the speaking, reading and writing vocabulary.  Listening to books will fill their brains with the sounds of words and get them accustomed to standard, grammatically correct English.  Movies have conversational English, which doesn’t have the same variety of words or structure of sentences that books have.

As an additional benefit, many of the books we listened to were interesting to us as well as the kids.  It was a shared experience for the whole family.  We could talk about the book together and look forward to the next chapters.  When we began making road trips from Minnesota to Utah every summer we created a 3-part system: listen to a book on CD for two hours, watch a DVD (usually 90 minutes to 2 hours), then have “quiet time” for 2 hours (reading, coloring, playing with toys or sleeping).  It worked great.

Below is a list of the books we’ve listened to and loved and would highly recommend!

Peter Pan
House at Pooh Corner
Mary Poppins
The little Princess
Black Beauty
Five Children and It
Ginger Pye
Wizard of Oz
Tom Sawyer
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Magician’s Nephew
Prince Caspian
Ella Enchanted
Ballet Shoes
Pinky Pye
Cricket in Times Square
Dear Emma
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Freddy the Pilot
Freddy and the Popinjay
Freddy Goes to Florida
All of a Kind Family
Trumpet of the Swan
Uncle Remus
Scarlet Pimpernel
Return to Goneaway
Freddy and Ignoramus
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler
Unusual Suspects
Million Dollar Shot
Just Grace
Porcupine Year
River Secrets
Silver Crown
Tale of Despereaux
101 Dalmatians
Salamander Spell
Salamander’s Spell
Frog Princess
Dragon’s Breath
Once upon a Curse
No Place for Magic
Dragon Princess
Dragon Kiss
A Prince among Frogs

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