One of the best ways to keep the girls entertained in the vehicle on our long drives has been music and audio books. My husband and I actually got into audio books when Sunshine was a baby and we lived in northern Alberta. He’d grab a few audio books from the local library before we hit the road and we’d have fun listening and discussing a book together. Now, we have to pick books that are suitable for the girls and fight with them for “listening time,” but we still have fun listening to stories together.
Here are a few short stories and audio books that our girls have really enjoyed in the last few years.
A few years ago, we grabbed the Curious George Complete Adventures Deluxe Book and CD Gift Set on sale somewhere. That set has definitely been worth the money! The girls love listening to the stories, which come with great sound effects. I also really like both narrators, who read at a measured pace and pause frequently for the girls to think about what they’ve heard.
Murmel Murmel Munsch has 14 of Robert Munsch’s best-loved stories on a single CD (meaning hours of listening time without constantly changing the disc!). The stories are ready by the author himself, which I found gave me some insight into his character as a writer. (He’s a bit crazy.) Warning: don’t play this CD while the baby is sleeping in the truck. Robert creates his own sound effects and will read very quietly one minute and then be yelling the next minute. The girls love it, but it’s not conducive to naps.
The Singing Bible
My mom got the girls Focus on the Family’s The Singing Bible for Christmas one year and it is another of their favourite CDs. Using both songs and narrative, these four CDs cover the stories of the Bible from Adam to Revelations. There’s a nice mix of music, from almost rap to an Irish blessing to pop and country, and the narrative between the songs ties together the story of salvation.
Holy Heroes Glory Stories
A friend introduced us to the Holy Heroes Glory Stories, and last year I got the girls the entire set for St. Nicholas Day. I think we now have all 13 saint stories memorized (at least I do) but these stories are still probably the girls’ first pick while we’re driving. Most stories are about twenty to thirty minutes long, though the stories of Children of Fatima and Pope St. John Paul II run closer to an hour. Each saint story is dramatized with sound effects and different voices. Many of the stories start with a specific lesson or story from the Bible; for example, St. Joan of Arc starts with her mother talking about Deborah and Jael in the Old Testament and how God uses two women to bring about victory for his people.
Cat Chat Audio Show
We’ve seen Cat Chat live in concert twice now, but they also have several kids’ audio shows. We have Amazing Angels and Super Saints, which is about an angels’ and saints’ dress-up party, and An Extra-Special Easter Vacation, about a family trip to the Holy Land. The audio shows are usually about the family doing something together, with their pet cat Moses popping in to chat at well. My husband says some people find the voice of Moses a bit annoying but I guess I’ve listened to enough kids’ CDs that I have a pretty high tolerance for anything. There’s also fun songs to go with the story.
Classical Kids CDs
I grew up listening to these CDs too, so on our last trip to Alberta, I asked my mom if we could borrow them for the drive home. We listened to all four in the same day and Sunshine is already asking to listen to them again. “Mr. Bach Comes to Call” is about the composer dropping in on a little girl practicing piano; “Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery” is the story of an orphan at Vivaldi’s school for girls; “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” is about a boy whose mom rents out their upstairs room to the grumpy composer; and “Mozart’s Magic Flute” turns one of Mozart’s classical operas into a kids’ story. All three are well dramatized and include music from the composers, either as feature pieces in the story or background music. There are now more CDs in the Classical Kids collection, so I might watch for them for the girls for Christmas. I’m hoping they encourage Sunshine with her violin lessons.
The Chronicles of Narnia
This Christmas, we listened to the Chronicles of Narnia with the girls. They absolutely loved them! We paused The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe quite a bit to ask the girls about the story and make sure they were following along (and not getting scared), but I was impressed with how much they understood. We talked quite about Aslan’s sacrifice at the end, comparing it to how Anna is willing to risk her life to save Elsa in Frozen and how Jesus died for us on the cross. Some of the politics in Prince Caspian (like the whole idea of “lord protector” and why Miraz was a bad king) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (the slave trading on the Lone Islands and the replacement of Governor Gumpas) went over their heads, but they still enjoyed the stories.
Odyssey Adventure Club
I grew up listening to the Adventures in Odyssey on tape. Now, I’m happy that all the episodes, old and new, are available online at the Odyssey Adventure Club! I find that some of the newer stories are a bit old for our girls (I didn’t think they’d get much out of a story about a girl going off to college for the first time) but they’ve enjoyed other stories. If you have older kids, they may enjoy the stories more, as well as the web quests, devotionals, and monthly magazine (US readers only).
We’ve also gotten tapes and CDs second-hand from friends or thrift stores. That’s been a great way to pick up Disney songs to go with the girls’ favourite movies or other kids’ stories on tape.
Tip: buy a CD case at the dollar store and keep all your stories for the road in one place. This also reduces the risk that a CD case is going to get damaged in the car. We have a case for my husband and I, a case for the girls’ favourite music, and a case for their faith and Glory Stories.
For more ideas for great kids’ music, check out my CD reviews.
Do your kids enjoy books on tape or audio stories? Which ones would you recommend?
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