My present life involves a lot of driving. Most of that driving involves my children in the car. Since they are 9 and 5, we usually listen to things in the car. I tend to choose words over music, for some reason, and we have a significant list of podcasts (mine and theirs). My children enjoy Story Pirates, But Why, Wow in the World, Brains On! and Pants on Fire. They adore Eleanor Amplified.
Recently, my son caught the tail end of my own audiobook and was curious about what happened while I was listening during his school day. We examined books on CD at the library and requested the first of the Hardy Boys series from a neighboring branch. Last week, we listened to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on audio and he was quite captivated, even though he’d actually heard it before with his uncle.
My particular recommendation, beyond considering audiobooks for your kids, are the following two books: Blizzard! and The Great Fire both by Jim Murphy. The books cover the blizzard of 1888 and the Chicago fire of 1871, respectively. The reading is smooth, with occasional sound effects, with clear narration and intriguing voices for different people.
The research is clearly present for both books, including first-hand accounts from survivors. It is presented evenly, neither piling up the horror nor shying away from tragedy. In both cases, there was information about the cities and systems that were in place before the disasters, how those systems contributed to hardships, and how they changed afterward.
My 9-year-old was thoroughly engaged in both stories and demanded that they begin as soon as we were in the car and be paused immediately when he was exiting the vehicle. He didn’t want to miss a word. We checked them out from the library, so continuous access was easy via the Libby app.
The books sparked good conversation around the vocabulary, what surprised us and what we expected, and what people learned from the disasters. I suspect he will be thinking about these stories long after we’ve returned the books. He was quite interested, even with no pictures, which is to say that one shouldn’t assume that children require visuals to learn something.
We are moving soon and our long commute will be no more. (Hallelujah.) I’ve been thinking about how we will continue to make use of the bonding over audio content and I see a lot of puzzles, drawing and coloring, and quiet Lego building in our future so that we can listen and talk about what we learn. If you haven’t tried audiobooks (or podcasts) with the kids in your life. I recommend it.