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TV alternative: audiobooks, what do you think?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

The hardest thing about giving up TV is you don't have anything to occupy your kids while you make an important phone call (say to a lawyer, best friend who's having a problem, etc.) or you need to do desk work, etc.


I've come up with a great solution:  books on tape.  We borrow cd's from the library, put them on the iPad, and play them during the day to quell kids a bit.


What do you think?  I have not seen the same TV-brain that I see post-TV watching, and I feel the kids use their imaginations as they sit and picture the stories.


Or, do you think it is another media cop-out?  


Our background is absolutely no TV/cable in the house for a decade, and we began using DVD's with my girls when my eldest was two and I had a newborn and no family help.  We are highly selective and range from 1-2 hours a day for a few days per week to NO hours per day for several months, mainly depending on what I and my husband's need for kid-free time in the house is.


We've loved the audiobooks so far, for our four and six year old.  Here's a few:  Island of the Blue Dolphins, Dominic the Dog, Rabbit Ears story collection (awesome!), Nelson Mandela's African Stories (great), Magic Treehouse (harmless, kids love them), Paddington the Bear (read by Stephan Fry ... great!!), etc.


ANOTHER QUESTION:  Do books read by professional authors via a device offer the same benefits as reading to your child?  We now tend not to use the audiobooks during the day to amuse the kids, but instead we use them at bedtime half the time we put them to bed rather than reading the books ourselves.  We lie with them and listen as well ... so it's not that we don't have the cuddle time.


My husband feels that having professionals (like Meryl Streep, Stephan Fry, Rob Reiner, etc.) in different accents and some in quite fine cadences is actually beneficial to fostering a love of the language ...


I admit it SURE is nice to be able to just click on a story and lie down in the dark with the kids and listen, too, instead of reading. 


And it sure is cheap:  ALL of our audiobooks come free from the public library.


Any thoughts on all of this?











post #2 of 13

Audio books are great!  There used to be a sticky at the top of this board with links to books and resources.  One of those books was The Plug-In Drug (can't remember author) and I'm pretty sure audio books were address in there.  I think I remember something about audio books (radio plays, etc) requiring the listener to visualize the story (much like when you read) and that being a very good thing.  I'm paraphrasing and it's been awhile since I read the book, so you might want to check it out for yourself.  That being said, I personally don't think audio books should replace all reading to children by real, live parents.  My DS loves the book-on-CD, but if I ask in the middle of one if he wants me to read instead he'll turn the CD player off fast and head for the couch.  That's just my experience though.  HTH!


post #3 of 13

I LOVE audiobooks!  They are wonderful, and not at all like television.  Listening to an audiobook in the car, or even in the house is no different really than a child listening to you read a chapter book.  My 4 year old has loved them, especially on the drives to school or on longer trips.  Some of our favorites are:


The Little House Series (GREAT audiobooks - particularly LH in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy)

Charlotte's Web

the Boxcar Children

the Wizard of Oz (Jim Weiss narrated)



I think there is always a place for reading to your children - there's something special about that.  But audiobooks are a fabulous addition to any child library!

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 


Great recommendations ! I am off to get them from the library!

I do hear what you are saying ... There is something invaluable about reading to a child. Just yourself giving that, in your voice, your time, sitting snuggled together ... But i think like you guys there is room for both.

I always wonder why more people don't offer their kids audiobooks, especially when there is such garbage on tv and these books are available for free at any library.

post #5 of 13

I think audiobooks are great and for older kids I think letting them listen to books on tape instead of you reading is fine too, especially if you're cuddling with them at the time.  But I've read that you should actually read to your younger children (ie. toddler's and younger) because (and I personally notice this)  when parents read they'll pause in the story and ask the child questions or ask them to name something or clarrify a word the child might not know.  Ds loves when I read to him and I notice I rarely just read a book straight thru without trying to engage him in questions and answer stuff.  In fact he'll frequently ask me to name things for him.

post #6 of 13

I wanted to add that I agree audiobooks are not the best option for very young children.  Much better for them to be read to.  I started using audiobooks when DS was almost 4.  We listen mostly in the car although sometimes in the house as well.  One of the other reasons they are so great is that at this age a child's ability to comprehend far exceeds their ability to read (if they can read at all).  The "early reading books" for 6 and 7 year olds are so basic and kind of boring for most kids.  DS can't even read yet, but when he does start reading, he's not going to be abile to read Winnie the Pooh or Charlotte's Web right away.  But he loves hearing them.  It's a great way to transition them until they are ready to read more complicated material themselves. 

post #7 of 13

My DD loves audiobooks.  We did start them at a very young age (shortly after she turned two), but only in the car - so they weren't replacing reading with Mum & Dad.  We live in a bit of a rural area, so we spend more time in the car than most.  At two, she loved the Arnold Loebel stories - frog & toad, grasshopper, uncle elephant, fables, etc.  


She turned three this past September, and although she still asks for the Loebel stuff fairly regularly, she's got different favourites.  The "My naughty little sister" stories are on heavy rotation, as are the "Frances" stories by Hoban, and the dramatized versions of Winnie the Pooh with Stephen Fry etc. reading.  We still listen mostly in the car, although she will occasionally ask to listen to stories when we're at home.  She was really sick last weekend and didn't feel like doing anything so we spent quite a bit of time sitting together on the couch listening to the Pooh stories.  (We don't do any TV or DVDs, so the audiobooks are really appreciated at times like that).


I love listening to audio books myself, which is why I started in with them with DD.  I'm really looking forward to listening to some meatier fare with her when she gets a little older. 


post #8 of 13

My kids have listened to lots of audiobooks from a young age. We still read to them, but we all enjoy listening to audio books in the car rather than the radio and also at bedtime, we like to snuggle up and listen to them together. We've listen to audio to books we've read as books too. And we have favorites that we listen to over and over again--definition of a 'classic' around here. We'd usually listen to audiobooks that were further ahead of their reading level than books we'd read to them, but I think it was excellent for them to hear the more advanced material.


I think as long as you're doing both--reading and listening--it's a good thing :)  


My kiddos had amazing vocabularies from very young I think in no small part to audio books. They've always asked questions about them, even during, we just pause it. It's funny to hear a 5 yo say to his dad in the morning "It is so disconcerting to have the light turned on right away in the morning!" or to have your 3.5 yo compliment the neighbor on her "nice vegetation".  Just two memorable appropriate uses of language I know my kiddos picked up from listening to audiobooks.

post #9 of 13

I love LOVE LOVE audio books!!!! I started listening to them wen we gave up TV. I listen to all kind of audio books. I listen to kids and adult books(careful about adult stuff) But I can tell you that we started when my son was 2 and now he is 5. His Vocabulary is great and he really has picked up alot of stuff.


I 2nd the Little House books...they are wonderful.


So I say go with the audiobooks over TV anyday!

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm really enjoying hearing other people's experiences -- Thanks people for chiming in!


Yah, I don't know what we'd do on all these snowdays if we didn't have a pile of audiotapes we could pop in ... we're doing a lot of Magic Tree House and Boxcar kids.  

We are buddhist but I want my children exposed to Christianity as well.  I got a couple of the Rabbit Ears Bible Stories.  One Moses centered, one about Jesus.  Woah ... the old testament one was SUPER bloody!  I forgot how my natal religion was so violent in it's source!


I just can't see a negative with audiobooks.  They don't replace reading together, but they are a beautiful augment.  I read somewhere that adults who listen to audiobooks read three times as many books a year than someone who reads them in print.  It was not a controlled experiment that could show causality, but it is an interesting link.  I wonder if it's because it's easier to squeeze in audiobooks at odd times (car, at night w/lights off in bed, waiting in a dr's office).

post #11 of 13

I also like audiobooks. We used to listen to them in the car when we lived in San Diego and were regularly in the car 45 minutes or more per day. I put a few on the ipod as well. We also got them from the library and the selection was pretty limited, but we found good things anyway. Now we live in NYC and don't have a car and I find we use them only rarely (also DD is older now so its not as great- when she was a baby it was a better fit). However, DS was very sick with the flu and he listened to both winnie the pooh books and pippi longstocking and it was great- he was just too sick to do anything and I didn't want to plop him in front of TV (esp since he normally doesn't watch any at all).


some of the performers are just great! I enjoy listening to them too.


we loved listening to a bunch of Ramona books, the above-mentioned Winnie the Pooh and Pippi Longstocking, Because of Winn Dixie, um... I am trying to remember the rest! Someone gave us the railway children, the d'aulaires greek myths, and an abridged version of Peter Pan (I normally don't like abridged but have you read that book? Its pretty weird and also racist, and I have to say the abridgment was very well done). Oh- he wanted to listen to A Wrinkle in Time which we did, but I thought it was kind of old and scary for him. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.


We have read most of the books we listened to- some before, some after. I don't see it as replacing our reading time.


I was looking at the nook at B&N yesterday (well, really DS was looking at it) and I was disappointed that while it seems to "read" kids books, it does it with horrid computer voice- not as a story-telling performance. Ah well.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 


Those are great suggestions.... I am going to look them up at our library! Thx!
post #13 of 13

oh and its not audiobooks... but I downloaded some free e-books onto my iphone, and now when we ride the subway (actually not terribly often, we mostly walk) I read those to DS (we have Winnie the Pooh and Wizard of Oz). I want to get some picture books on there for DD for those weird boring times where you are waiting around... I might even pay for a few good ones to have on there.



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