When I think about audio books, I’m instantly transported to the interior of a 1980 canary yellow station wagon, where I’m surrounded by siblings and we’re all on our way to some distant family holiday destination. Clever people that they were, my parents cottoned on to the benefits of the audio book/ kid in car on long trip combo. After all, there’s only so much that one’s eye can spy before pandemonium breaks out and Mum has to attempt that tricky whacking the naughty kid on the backseat from the front seat maneuver.
Even utilising technology as primitive as the cassette, audio books provided a respite from backseat bickering and offered entertainment, education, the honing of young literary skills and, dare I say it, bonding. When recently quizzed, all five members of my immediate family were able to provide a perfect rendition of the song that popped up in the Thumbelina book that came with us on so many of our family holidays over thirty years ago.
Naturally, in the thirty years since, technology has improved to the point that audio books for kids are a simple click of a mouse away and won’t take up any room in a car already full to bursting with family holiday essentials. A quality audio book will capture kids’ attention for significant lengths of time as they come to appreciate the elements of a well-crafted story, hear articulate, grammatically sound language, increase their attention spans and give their imaginations a good workout creating mind pictures to illustrate the story.
Having said that, it’s hard to go past the read-along audio books where kids not only hear the story read to them in an exciting and eloquent way, but they develop their own skills as they read along with the narrator or simply turn the pages at the ‘ping’ sound if they’re too young to read.
I’ll leave the last word on the audio books of my childhood to my dad who says “I am surprised but relieved that you all grew up able to turn pages without a “ping””.
Susan Long is a long suffering mother of three – so with the back seat of the Rental Car full, popping in an audio book is her tip for a happy family holiday.