** This is a guest post from contributor Jenny Holt**
Many parents feel that they do not spend as much time bonding with their kids as they would like. Recent research shows that one in four parents feels that they are simply too busy to do so, owing to factors like long working hours, long commutes, and sheer exhaustion. Meanwhile, those who have time sometimes do not know how to make the most of it, since computer games and phones can indeed be very very difficult to compete with when it comes to a child’s attention. If you are a parent looking for an activity that will allow you to enrich your and your children’s lives, why not introduce audiobooks into your daily routine? There are books for kids of all ages, it could just be the ultimate way to have a good time and drink in the beauty of literature alongside your children.
Children who read often and widely improve their comprehension skills enormously, and this shows up as much in their writing as in their speech. Reading challenges their minds, strengthening existing connections in the brain and building new ones. It encourages children to learn about the world – how people live and think, and the struggles they have. Even the most entertaining, funny children’s books can prompt children to see themselves as part of a cohesive whole. It can help them comprehend the importance of ideas like teamwork and empathy. Audio books are a great way to start getting kids interest in stories even when they are just starting to read.
If you have never been an eager reader before, you may find that parenthood inspires new interests and that the eagerness of your kids to devour literature, is no less than catching. If you never had the chance to read exciting or emotion-packed books like A Big Dose of Lucky, ACharmed Life, or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, you may find that these stories strike an emotional chord. Top selling kids’ books often have a ‘special something’ that makes them just as appealing to adults. Moreover, as children advance into more complex books (think A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens) you can listen along when your child plays an audiobook, indulging in some of the most read works in history without having to even look at the page.
Pick a book that is appropriate to your child’s age and interests. Titles start at the preK-K (3 to 4) age and go all the way up to high school age. There are also French, Spanish, and other titles that can make for fun listening. Even if your child is still at the phonics stage, you can select a short book like A is for Alligator (1 minute, 25 seconds), Barnyard Babies Soundbook (1 minute, 25 seconds), or Belling the Cat (1 minute, 39 seconds). Little children love repetition; that means that once they identify their select favorites, they will want to play them again and again. You can also encourage them to look at the words, so they begin associating letters with their corresponding sounds. As they begin to memorize the entire contents of the audiobook, you can then turn the volume down and point to the page. The letters they see on the page can serve as ‘prompts’ that remind them of the full content of the page.
When reading and listening to audiobooks with children, make sure you are an active presence in the activity. Engage younger children with comprehension activities, asking questions about the story or pointing out elements in every day life that correspond to their favorite stories or characters. As your kids get older, listening to audiobooks can replace traditional entertainment. You might want to prepare a special snack and simply listen (or read the book from your own tablet) to incredible tales that will hopefully inspire your children to live their best lives.