In our household, with hectic schedules, there are only a few things that stay consistent from day to day: eating, sleeping, brushing teeth, and listening to audiobooks. That’s right, audiobooks have made our list of essential daily routines for our kids.
In our boys’ playroom we have a CD player and, at any given time, a stack of 4-5 different audiobooks from the library. If your kids’ room or playroom doesn’t have the same, you’re missing out on a great way to enhance playtime!
Audiobooks became a part of our daily routine when my oldest son hit about 3 and a half years old and stopped napping. At that point, we instituted an hour of “rest time” in the afternoon, where he could play quietly in his room independently. Conveniently, most kids’ audiobooks are broken up into 50-60-minute long CDs, making them the perfect “timers” for our daily rest time habit.
Why are Audiobooks Great Playtime Enhancers?
1. They encourage independent play
We’ve found that audiobooks have made our oldest son’s room a place where he enjoys going to play by himself and listen to a story. Instead of moping about being bored at different times, he’ll go to his room, turn a story, and play on his own. It also works when he’s frustrated or angry (often with his little brother) and needs some time to cool off!
2. They increase exposure to higher level language
We read to our sons before bed every night, and usually we read them picture books. The audiobooks my 5-year-old enjoys, however, are books like Judy Blume’s Fudge series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Bunnicula, The Boxcar Children, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He picks up new vocabulary all the time, hence why he was able to complain at 4 years old that the smell from his brother’s diaper was “wafting” over to him, and more recently, that his younger brother was a “megalomaniac.”
(MORE: 4 Myths About Raising a Reader)
4. They make great conversation starters with kids
When rest time is over, I like to ask my son what he listened to during that time, what happened in the story, and how he felt about different parts. It’s especially helpful if they’re stories that I remembered reading as a kid and can ask specific questions. It’s a great way to help boost imagination, memory, and analytical skills while having something fun to talk about after playtime!