Sunday, April 10, 2011

Taking The Love Of Reading On The Road: Audio Stories!

I have written often about my personal love for reading and the type of home I grew up in that inspired it. My husband and I read to our children every night and have books everywhere - from bedroom to bathroom. We've always had books in our car, too, but since our kids don't know how to read by themselves yet, they're more for the pictures than the stories. 

Now, we live in Los Angeles and anyone who lives here, or who has visited, knows that this means we are in our car a lot! It recently dawned on me that I was missing a big opportunity to share story time with the kids and began to check out the idea of audio books. Lots of books these days come with CDs included so kids can "read" along with the story, but I had simply never thought to put them in the car to entertain the kids!

Well, let me tell you that my kids now think I am a genius and can't get enough of this idea. Which has, of course, presented me with a new conundrum: how to keep up with their appetite for new stories without breaking the bank? As with many parenting questions, I hit the web and began my research. So, here I present to you, my findings for the best places to find audio stories for kids (some free) and our picks for the best stories (at least according to my kids):

  • Storynory is a free collection of audio books for kids. Many of them are classics (The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland etc.), some are originals, and they even include Greek Myths and Bible Stories if you are so inclined. I downloaded a few easily, and the woman who reads them has a lovely voice, but the stories I chose were a bit above my 4-year olds' comprehension. However, if you have older children, I think this is a wonderful site.
  • I found Ambling Books by checking out my Twitter friend, Pragmatic Mom's website. She's a terrific resource for all things having to do with literacy, parenting and education. Ambling Books has free stories for download so you can find many classics there. They also sell audio recordings so you can find great books such as Legends of The Guardian, The Reluctant Dragon or The Secret Garden. Again, all of the books I looked at on this site seemed above my children's age range, but I am bookmarking it for future reference as they have some of my favorites from childhood and I am looking forward to sharing them with our kids in a few years.
  • Skippyjon Jones is a favorite in our house. The silly songs, nonsense "Spanish" and a Siamese cat who thinks he's a chihuahua make up a perfect recipe for a really fun series of books. The books are read by the author, Judy Schachner, and she does a great job at voicing the mischievous kitty. We love Skippyjon Jones and The Big Bones and Skippyjon Jones in The Dog House, and I have a couple more in the series that I'm holding on to for our next road trip.
  • Magic Treehouse Collection books 1 - 8. This is a terrific series of books aimed at kids ages 4 - 8 and read by the author, Mary Pope Osborne. Each book is 10 chapters, each one a cliff hanger. The stories take the brother and sister on adventures all over the world and throughout time from the age of dinosaurs to the Amazon rainforest to a pirate adventure. My kids LOVE these stories and while there are a few words or concepts they don't know, the basic theme of the stories is repetitive enough that they easily follow along, even without having a picture book in their hands. I believe there are 45 books in the series, so if your kids like them you're set for a long time!
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo was a new find, recommended by a friend, that my daughter (in particular) can't get enough of. A retelling of an old Chinese folktale about how the people of China came to give their children short names after traditionally giving their "first and honored" sons grand, long names. The book is full of beautiful illustrations and the story is told by the fabulous Marcia Gay Harden. 
  • For some reason we are a bit slow in coming to love Dr. Seuss, but my son has always found Green Eggs and Ham hilarious. So, when I found the audio version, read by the hilarious Jason Alexander, I gave it a try. I love watching our son following along with with a grin on his face as he matches the words to the pictures. We also have Fox In Sox. For some reason, having the story read by David Hyde Pierce seems to have made this book much more appealing to the kids than when I do it myself. I'm not sure what that says about me! Anyway, the Seuss books are almost all on CD and each one is read by a terrific actor, so they are definitely worth checking out.
We are heading out for a road trip next week as our Spring Break starts. I am so happy to have discovered books on CD for the kids and plan to be listening to many hours of Magic Treehouse and more. How about you? Have you tried audio stories yet? Which ones do you love? Do you have some good sites to suggest for downloads?

Thanks for reading!
- Gina
The Twin Coach

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4 Great Comments Made By Clicking Here!:

Christina Simon said...

Gina, have a fabulous trip! These are great audio book ideas. It does make a big difference in the car trips when you have something for the kids to listen to that really engages their attention.

The Twin Coach said...

I just connected with someone on Twitter who runs a company that looks great. It's called Tales2Go and it offers more than 1400 audio stories that can be played on any Apple iOS device (iPad, iPhone, iTouch). There's a monthly fee, but they seem to have some really great stories.

Keilah said...

My kids LOVE the magic tree house. I am definitely going to order books 1 through 8. Thanks for the other great ideas.

PragmaticMom said...

Thanks so much for the ShoutOut!Love your post!

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