So, the car is packed for the weekend to Grandma’s house; the all-important backpacks with lots of snacks and activities to keep the smalls entertained lie at their feet. But what of the two, could be three, hour journey if the traffic’s bad?! Screens are out due to travel sickness issues. And also a stubborn feeling that won't seem to go away that all children really need on a long car journey are games of I-Spy (mother born in the 70s). Or could there be another alternative? The AUDIOBOOK!
We love ‘em! Not least because it's how we earn our living but also because silence immediately descends the minute you hit play. The great thing about an audiobook is that the listener can gaze out of the window, you can drive, or if you're at home, simply take a break while they are transported to another world. And no two chocolate factories will look the same to the children listening. Listening to a great story that utilises a broad vocabulary, with clearly defined and different voices for each character, children benefit just as much as reading it themselves. Tricky situations and their discoverable solutions give children the opportunities to explore possibly dangerous places without actually being in harm’s way. Stories equip children with an ever-growing bag of tools to face life when it presents itself in real time. Adventure stories teach them to consider that in their lives anything is possible and to think big - which is where I assume all adults would agree children and young people need to begin. In order to reach the stars, aim for that moon.
Listening to the works of a talented writer of children's literature through the art of an expressive reader, you can expect skills that soothe as well as excite the young listener. Audiobooks can make their bodies rigid with anticipation one minute and collapse with relief the next, encourage them to question, make them laugh, consider others, what is fair, ponder which action they would choose in a similar situation, etc.
The art of storytelling goes back to prehistoric times. It educates, inspires, entertains, heals and joins different groups of people together as one. Listening to stories told also nurtures the storytellers of tomorrow. It is an essential part of being alive, surviving and thriving. Children's literature is the beginning; the introduction to this journey that lasts a lifetime. Reading is something that is essential in modern life. The beauty of audiobooks is that their nature allows children just learning to read, or struggling to read, access to this essential part of life. Listening not only to a great story but also to vocabulary, context, sentence structure aids them to continue to learn this tricky skill. Not only that, but it harks back to those prehistoric times: what else can beat the art of telling a story by the fire?
So, as we enter Children’s Book Week, enjoy those fabulous text-based books, but also delve into the magical world of audiobooks. My children describe listening to them as feeling the story ‘come into their body and head’ as there are no pictures or moving images, leaving them free to have a totally immersive experience.
Written by Willow Nash.
Download and listen to Willow's audiobook voice reel.
Find out more about Really Big Pants Theatre Company, and Suddenly...!, soon to be released as an audiobook adventure for children to enjoy anywhere - not just on car trips. Have a sneak preview to celebrate: