September 14, 2010

My Love Hate Relationship with Audio Books

Audio books.  I have very mixed emotions about them.  My children LOVE audio books and could listen to them all day long if I would let them.  I restrict what they listen to just as much as what they read.  There are some things I love about them and some things that drive me crazy.

When they were little I listened to good children's literature on audio book in the car all the time.  It kept them quite, helped them learn to love being read to and exposed them to great literature for their age.  It also made the car time pass quickly.

As they got older and had radios and mp3 players they wanted to check them out of the library for themselves and began listening to them in their bedrooms or on the go in their mp3 players. I am glad they enjoy being read to, I am glad they are still being exposed to good literature and listening to books over music. I am glad that they use audio books the way some might watch TV.  However, a funny and unexpected thing happened, my younger two decided they did not need to read to themselves but they could listen to someone else reading instead.  I think it delayed their interest in reading and helped resolve some of the boredom that otherwise led my oldest to pick up a book and read.  Maria does not like audio books she prefers to read, my other two love audio books more than reading.

Still on the flip side in some ways it has helped them learn to read.  Right now I am working with Sirah on reading Magic Tree House books and I noticed that having heard the stories previously has helped her confidence as she knew some of the bigger words or names from the audio book.  Ciaran has certain books he wants to listen to on audio and I have told him he has to read the series himself first and then he can listen to them.  He will sometimes burn through a book in order to listen to someone else read it to him over and over again at bedtime.

Every night I go to sleep listening to the cacophony of sounds emanating from my children's rooms as competing audio books play at fairly loud volumes.  In the middle of the night sometimes I wake up to the droning voices of an audio book or a skipping cd that was turned on in the middle of the night by an awakened child trying to fall back asleep.  During the school day I have to remind them that listening to an audio book is not the same as listening to classical music and no they can not listen to it while they are trying to study spelling or read history for comprehension.  At bedtime instead of picking up a book to read to fall asleep they will turn on their cd players and listen to someone else read.

I go back and forth between being glad they love good stories and being concerned that they should be more actively reading them on their own.  I know it is a balance and in moderation it is a good thing.  I remind myself of that every night when I hear Charlotte's Web and The Lightning Thief competing and I try to find the correct volume for both so everyone can hear and no one goes crazy :)


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