This story was produced in partnership with Duracell. All opinions are mine alone. #DuracellOptimumBrandPartner
Once upon a time, audiobooks were boring. Today, however, there are so many mediums to experience audiobooks, and they come in a wide array of titles and reading levels, even for kids. But where to start? Read on for four ways to help your kids get hooked on audiobooks.
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Not all learning happens at school, and not all learning is academic. Summer gives kids lots of opportunities to learn new skills and explore their imaginations. While I think all the non-academic summer growth and development is really important and healthy, I also don’t want my boys to completely step out of their intellectual pursuits while out of school.
Audiobooks offer one avenue to engage their brains in a way that is fun, relaxing, and perfect for learning outside of school.
Once upon a time, audiobooks were limited to tapes and CDs that offered limited options for listening. Today, however, there are so many mediums to experience audiobooks. They also come in a wider array of titles and reading levels, so they can be more complicated to navigate.
We are big fans of audiobooks, and I would love to share with you a few ways we use them outside of school to sneak in a bit of extra fun learning. Here are four ways we use audiobooks in our house that I think your family might also enjoy.
4 Ways Kids Can Enjoy Audiobooks
Books on CD
Although they seem a bit antiquated, your local library probably has a great collection of audiobooks on CD for kids. They still circulate in the library collections frequently.
We used to listen to these audiobooks in our car. They are a great compliment to running errands with little ones in tow. The cars we have now do not have CD players in them, though, so our boys listen to audiobooks on CD at home while playing with blocks, coloring or doing other small activities.
Some audiobooks come with a physical book. In those circumstances, the boys flip through the pages and follow along while they listen.
We own a simple CD player that the boys can operate on their own. We add a couple of batteries, and they are off to the reading (or listening) races. Last week, we popped into Rite Aid to quickly grab some new Duracell Optimum batteries for the CD player. Duracell Optimum batteries come in AA and AAA, and Duracell is the #1 trusted battery brand, so I know the boys will get plenty of use out of the player even if they are listening to a long book with multiple CDs. These batteries are available in AA and AAA in pack sizes of 4, 6, and 12, and they come with a reusable tray to keep batteries stored when not in use.
Many libraries carry a collection of books on individual playback devices. Instead of needing a CD player, the small device has one book recorded on it. You plug your own headphones into the jack, add one AAA Duracell Optimum battery, and it’s ready for use. I love that it’s a self-contained audiobook that’s really easy for kids to use and is incredibly portable.
Audiobook Phone or Tablet Apps
There are a variety of audio-only audiobook apps from which you can choose. Audiobook apps on phones and tablets are probably the most popular audiobook mediums. They are easy to use, and we always have our phones with us, for better and for worse.
Each app has its pros and cons, but all of them make audiobooks accessible to children just about anywhere. My boys primarily listen to audiobooks apps on my phone at the kitchen table or in the car.
If your children are anything like mine, they struggle to keep their hands to themselves in the car. Audiobooks on my phone work wonders to keep them engaged and quiet. While music riles them up, audiobooks calm them down, and they behave like angels almost every time I play a story. If you haven’t tried audiobooks in the car, I highly recommend it.
For my own listening, I prefer audiobooks on my phone because I can speed up the narrator’s pace in any of the apps. My boys, however, listen to the audiobooks at the standard pace, whether on apps or CD. Thus, I don’t have a strong preference about which medium is best for them and tend to focus more on where I can find the most interesting and age-appropriate books.
Illustrated or Animated Audiobooks
There is a growing collection of illustrated and animated books children can watch on tablets and phones. Our library system offers some of these through an app I can download, and there are also companies that sell them. Thus far, I haven’t really explored these much, because we try to limit screen time for the boys.
Further, there are some studies that suggest children (and people in general) learn less from stories presented on screens as opposed to those heard through audio or viewed in paper books. Pixels can over-stimulate little brains, and still images or audio without animation encourage more imaginative thought to experience the story.
Thus, I favor the boys using the CD player or the playback device. We trade screen engagement for small motor skills and imaginative exploration, and that’s well worth adding one or two batteries to the player.
While we don’t use the animated stories in our house often, I included them because they might be a good option for some families. They might be a great introduction to audio stories and provide an opportunity to spend time together in pursuit of developing a child’s love for books. It is certainly a worthwhile effort to use any audiobook medium that works most effectively for your child to connect with books.
A few years ago, navigating the world of audiobooks felt daunting to me. Where do I start? Won’t they put me to sleep? How do they work? With the variety of apps and the increasing popularity of audiobooks, however, the population of books available is so much larger than it used to be and much easier to use.
If you’re interested and haven’t tried it out yet, give it a shot! Grab a couple Duracell Optimum batteries, toss them in a CD player, and let your kids color or play with blocks while they listen and learn.
Do your kiddos listen to audiobooks, especially in the summer to prevent “summer slide”? If so, do you have any additional tips that might help families fit audiobooks into their lives?