RoadTrip for Families: Audiobooks For Your Kids (equals) Sanity On the Open Road
by Mazal Simantov | Friday, May 27th, 2011
This guest post is one mom’s mission to create an easy to use app to use during road trips – or any time your kids need to be quiet and unwind.
I’m the kind of person who went to the epidural lecture when I was a mere 4 months pregnant with my oldest. I figured, I have the time – I should go before I get too busy. I like to accomplish things before my deadline paralyzes me.
When this same kid was about four months old, I read a book called The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I wanted to make sure he would be a reader. What I learned from Trelease is this: read to your child from the time he’s an infant. Every night. Read to him even after he learns how to read. Every night. Let your children read whatever they want. Even crap–as long as they like to read, they’ll turn out great. There! Now you don’t have to read the book. That’s the gist.
Here’s what you get when your kids read on the road: they don’t wander away, they don’t fight, they are safe. They are quiet. You see where I’m going with this…
So naturally (or because of my compulsion), my kids are into books. My kids, however, are the type that get car sick when they read in the car. Like me. They even get a little sick when watching DVDs in the car. Not that we watch DVDs in the car.
A little over a year ago, we were on a road trip and I wanted everybody to listen to audiobooks: they improve your vocabulary, they broaden your world! (Oh yeah, that’s also part of the Trelease book.) I downloaded an iPhone app that had the entire Librivox.org catalog in it for a mere 99 cents. That’s over 3500 books! But really: 3500 books is overkill.
And that’s when it hit me: I would create my own iPhone app with only the children’s catalog from Librivox. And only with the best narrators. No matter how good a book is, if the narrator is no good, it’s impossible to enjoy.
I engaged Mazal Simantov – a good friend and excellent designer, programmer and lifelong children’s advocate. Together we created Audiobooks For Your Kids. Thirty of the best narrated titles from the children’s catalog of Librivox.org. Now, you don’t have to spend the time figuring out which book to listen to: you can search by title, age, genre and author. The titles are classic children’s literature, stuff like The Jungle Book, Aesop’s Fables and Little Women. Best of all, the app is only 99 cents. We also made sure that the design was beautiful, spare and easy to use.
There are no bells and whistles to this app: it’s old school. If apps can be called such things. You don’t read along, there are no graphics, no animations. You just listen. Slow down and listen. There’s a lot of noise out there, online, and most of it is no good for us. You can listen in the car, at home, in the doctor’s waiting room. We even explain how to do it on our website. Easy peasy.
Over the summer, we’ll release three new apps with 30 titles in each of the following categories: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Fairy Tales/Folk Tales. Stay tuned.
Raise your kids as readers. Audiobooks is too reading! Enjoy the summer. Drive safely!
Elizabeth Rodgers is an avid traveler, award-winning filmmaker and Los Angeles native who now lives in Boise, Idaho with her lovely family. She’s the co-creator of the Audiobooks for Kids iPhone app and contributes regularly to TravelingMom.com as the Idaho TravelingMom.