Audiobooks for young kids might just be the best solution for screen-free quiet time in the car!
I love car rides. I mean, I LOVE car rides with my kids! It’s just a pair of yoga pants and Netflix short from being my happy place. But it wasn’t always such a pleasure cruise.
Car rides used to be a mobile mommy prison where my kids (4 years old and almost 2 years old) finally had me cornered like a terrified animal. Then they would pummel me with question after question after question. And then the same questions over and over and over again. And stuff like,
“Mommy can you hand me the thing I just dropped?”
“No, I’m driving the car.”
“Mommy, watch this!”
“I can’t, I’m driving the car.”
“Mommy, did you see that?”
“That! That thing! That thing right there! It looks like a shape and has a color!”
“Yup. It’s very ambiguous-y.”
But that’s all in the past now! My mini-van is my mommy sanctuary where I can actually hear my own thoughts, despite my kids being in the car with me. We can drive at least an hour (haven’t tested it further yet) with absolutely no toys or tablets for entertainment for either one. Yes, even my crazy high energy almost 2 year old boy sits still for that long (70% because he’s strapped in). So what’s my secret? Lean in real close and I’ll whisper it…
Don’t roll your eyes and think I’m some old grandma sitting by the radio listening to the nightly programs. I mean, I don’t deny that, but just hang on! Audiobooks are not what you think they are. Sure they have the classic books–Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz, Chronicles of Narnia, and more–but they also have shorter books like The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Snowy Day, Llama Llama Red Pajama, Strega Nona, Dr. Seuss’ classics and many more. We listen to the short ones during our regular car rides and my car is silent until we reach our destination. Just today we finished one right as we arrived at a park to play and my daughter asked to listen to another! My son listens too and every so often repeats the words or phrases. I swear, his vocab has boomed since we switched to audiobooks in the car!
Now here’s the best part where you’re going to turn your head a bit in disbelief and say, “Really?!” They also have Disney movies on audiobook. Recent Disney movies. Our family has two road trips this month, one is three hours and the other five hours. Guess what we’ll be doing for entertainment!
So where does one get ahold audiobooks for young kids?
- Your local library has children’s books on CD that you can check out just like you would a book. I like to use our library’s online catalog and place holds. When they’re available, the library gathers your selection, places them on a shelf near the front of the library, and emails you when they’re ready. You go in, grab your books, check them out, and you’re done within 3-5 minutes even with squirmy kids in tow.
- Hoopla is another great and free option through your library. It’s an app that allows you to digitally check out videos, music, ebooks and audiobooks. We currently have the Finding Nemo audiobook checked out. If your library doesn’t offer it, ask that they do. Our library also has audiobooks available on Playaway Audiobooks (an actual audio player you check out) and OneClick Digital.
- Audible.com is a huge resource and reasonably priced. You can get a free 30-day trial and one credit (i.e. free book). Otherwise, it’s a monthly fee of about $15 and you get one credit per month, which is a pretty decent deal because you can use that credit on books/collections of books that they regularly sell for much more. I got the entire Chronicles of Narnia with my last credit, and it’s regularly $41! Most Disney ones are $9.76, Harry Potter books are around $30, and the shorter books like The Gruffalo are $.99 or less. After I used my credit, I bought several shorter, older books for $.44-$.69. #TotallyWorthIt
- Another free option is to subscribe to Podcasts. There’s a huge variety of Podcasts for kids from educational to fun and silly. I subscribe to The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, Tumble Science Podcast for Kids, Brains On! Science podcast for kids, Stories Podcast–A Free Children’s Story Podcast for Bedtime, Car Rides, and Kids of All Ages, Storynory–Stories For Kids, and Sparkle Stories Podcast.
- Adventures in Odyssey is a an audio show, not just a reading, that focuses on character-building and aims to teach lasting truths. For us, it also lines up with our faith values. You can listen to recent episodes for free online or catch it on the radio.
And here’s a couple bonus tips in case you are doing a road trip like we are:
- Some libraries also offer tablets called Playaway Launchpads. They have different apps on them, and they don’t require the Internet. We checked out one called “A-Maze-Ing Mind!” and it has several maze and puzzle apps on it. Different tablets have different themes. Our library allows us to have it for a week before it’s due.
- If your kids are going to be coloring or playing with toys, I recommend using either a tray or even just a cookie sheet from the Dollar Tree. Using a silicone baking mat or silicone placemat on the tray makes it much harder for toys to roll off and when coloring it holds the paper in place.