I have learned that there is an alternative to the “Are we there yet” soundtrack playing in the backseat of my car. It’s called books on tapes. Not only they prevent “Mom! He is breathing my air!” squabbles, but also my kids are exposed to books that are well above their reading level, learn new vocabulary, and we all have something new to talk about. The good thing about books on tapes is that I can share my childhood favorites with my kids without getting hoarse reading them cover to cover outloud.
The books I pick for my kids are all my dear childhood friends. I must have read Mary Poppins ten times. Alice in Wonderland? Easily 20. I once had an ambitious desire to learn the whole Alice in Wonderland by heart. Why? Well, I had to memorize the whole chapters of War and Peace by heart for my Literature class back in grade school and I didn’t even like War and Peace. At least Alice in Wonderland was funny.
Not everything I pick is an instant success. Peter Pan was rejected. Little House on a Prairie was deemed “too boring.” Chronicles of Narnia didn’t take either. But I’m not giving up. I might try again in a year. From everything we listened to in this last year (my oldest kids were 6 and 4) we put together The Best 10 list. Whether you have a long car trip or simply driving a few miles to a soccer practice give these audiobooks a try, they have proved to be a great bonding experience for my family.
1. Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers.
2. Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
3. Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
4. The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
5. Rabbit Ears Treasure of Storybook Classics
6. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Frank L Baum
8. Kenny and the Dragon, Tonny DiTerlizzi
9. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
10. The Magic Tree House, Mary Pop Osborne. We listed to all of them. Over 50 books! Some of them such as Night on the Titanic and Vacation under the Volcano are so popular that kids listened to them hundreds of times and literally know them by heart.