The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Reading With Your Kids (A Mini-Series): Part III

Lazy Mom's Guide to Reading With Your Kids

This is part three and the final installment of this series.  You can catch up on part one and part two if you are so inclined. Linking up with Housewifespice. Because books.

I really owe this whole project-I-didn’t-realize-was-a-project to my mom, who surrounded us with wonderful books, selecting ones that were beautiful and wonderful, and to my dad, who has always let us know by example the importance of the written word.

There are two bloggers that I have to give much credit to. Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things, was a blogger that I cut my blogger teeth on, and is responsible for relaying the fact that reading TO one’s children is important – EVEN after they are reading on their own. It’s how writers are born. She has a great encouraging set of posts entitled Read-Aloud Revival, and a particularly great post in that set (How to Get Back in the Saddle) for when your reading aloud has waned. It was this post that got this whole thing started. And Aunt Leila from Like Mother, Like Daughter, who helps me to realize that if she can do it (her words), so can I…which leads me to decide that…if I can do it…so can you. Also, if Auntie Leila or her daughters recommend a book, it’s probably a good idea to read it.

Book Specifics

A year and a half ago, if you had presented me with the list of books that my kids listen to now, I would not believe you. Not in an underestimate-my-kids way. (Ok, maybe a little, because some titles on this list astound me that my four-year-old and five-year-old will listen to, comprehend, and enjoy!) But in a there’s-no-way-I’m-that-together way.

Wanna see why? Here’s our listening list, presented in the order in which we downloaded:

  1. The Little House – Virginia Lee Burton
  2. The Complete Tales (Unabridged) – Beatrix Potter
  3. The Kissing Hand – Audrey Penn
  4. The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr. Seuss Favorites – Dr. Seuss
  5. Caps for Sale – Esther Slobodkina
  6. Make Way for Ducklings – Robert McCloskey
  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  8. Corduroy – Don Freeman
  9. Skippyjon Jones in the Dog-House – Judy Schachner
  10. Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
  11. Winnie the Pooh (Dramatised) – A. A. Milne
  12. Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka – Tomie DePaola
  13. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Willems
  14. The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog – Mo Willems
  15. Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late – Mo Willems
  16. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  17. Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones – Judy Schachner
  18. Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble – Judy Schachner
  19. The Cricket in Times Square – George Selden
  20. Magic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8 – Mary Pope Osborne
  21. The Little Engine that Could – Watty Piper
  22. The Very Busy Spider – Eric Carle
  23. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren
  24. The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis
  25. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
  26. The Trumpet of the Swan – E.B. White
  27. The Henry Huggins Audio Collection – Beverly Cleary, Tracy Dockray
  28. Favorite Poems for Children – assorted authors
  29. The Princess and the Goblin – George Macdonald
  30. Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling
  31. The Moffats – Eleanor Estes
  32. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
  33. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
  34. Half Magic – Edward Eager
  35. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths – Ingri d’Aulaire, Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  36. Freckles – Gene Stratton-Porter
  37. The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection – Beverly Cleary, Tracy Dockray
  38. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  39. Father and I Were Ranchers – Ralph Moody
  40. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S. Lewis
  41. The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis
  42. The Silver Chair – C.S. Lewis
  43. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum (this one not available anymore)
  44. The Last Battle – C.S. Lewis
  45. The Children’s Homer – Padraic Colum
  46. Man of the Family – Ralph Moody

What is in our near future?

  1. More from Ralph Moody (Liam loved the first and second books of the series and is requesting the rest.)
  2. More from Arthur Ransome
  3. I’d like to get our ears on some James Herriot.
  4. Andrew Lang’s fairy stories.
  5. ??? Let’s open up the comments for ideas and suggestions!!

Some assorted thoughts in no particular order:

  • Not included in this list are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that we enjoyed from somewhere, I wanna say LibraVox, but don’t quote me on that.
  • I always, always select unabridged, unless it was noted above (I don’t think I noted it anywhere…)
  • If you get a chance to select a book read by the author, I generally recommend it.
  • We started out with picture books because I assumed that was all my boys would comprehend/have patience for and also because I had thought to put together a book basket so they could follow along as they listened. (That never happened. I still think it’s a nice idea.) Occasionally, now, Lo will request one of the picture books, but for the most part they ask for the longer stories.  I suspect that we will get more use out of the shorter ones again as Ami gets a little older and for any subsequent kiddos. (Maybe I’ll get around to that basket.)
  • My kids listen and re-listen and listen and re-listen to all of these titles. In the same way that you buy the books you love (instead of checking them out of the library), we purchase the audiobooks that we love. (Some of these were impulse, so that doesn’t hold across the board, but generally.)
  • I have not prioritized the list above. You see it as our listening taste unfolded. Some of these titles I would probably not pay for again, necessarily. So if you would like to hear more thoughts on which I heartily recommend and which are only so-so, email me and we will talk.
  • If you want great book recommendations, go browse around Like Mother, Like Daughter. There is a whole category of posts on books, and Auntie Leila is most sensible.
  • Kendra has a great post on Spooky Stories for the Whole Family and How to Get Them for Free. Her book recommendations are top-notch and she talks about good resources for free audiobooks at the bottom.  (Though I didn’t have the issue with Audible that she had – I actually love Audible because of ease with which I use it everywhere.) Now that our budget has tightened considerably, you better believe that I am considering what she has to say, however, I have manymanymany reasons why I love Audible and why it will be hard to switch. Keep reading, I discuss it….right now…

Audible Specifics (or Helpful Hints From Not-Heloise)

Now, because I am getting a heap o’ questions about it, here are some Audible specifics. I promise that this isn’t a sponsored post. Audible is what WE use. I’ve learned a few things, and I’m including specifics if you would like to go that route.

  • With Audible, a subscription gets you (depending on your plan) a certain number of credits per month (generally one). A credit gets you a title, but not all titles are “created equal”. Some cost more. Some cost less. So I use our credits for the more expensive titles that we purchase and I “spring” for some of the titles that have great “member prices”.  For example: we used our first credit for The Complete Tales (Unabridged) by Beatrix Potter, which is closer to $9 (or was), and I purchased The Little House by Virginia Burton, which was $0.41, using my credit card (not using a credit). Now I make sure to use my credit for a title that costs more than my monthly member price ($14.95/month). Pay attention when you check out, because you CAN use a credit to buy a book that is $0.41, and that’s a bit…absurd.
  • Once you buy the title, it’s yours. You can listen to it as often as you like. You keep your titles even if you cancel your subscription.
  • There are sometimes more than one version of the same title; I listen to short samples and read reviews to pick a good one, but…
  • …if you don’t like a title, you can return it within a certain time period. And I do this. Audible has been fantastic about returns, in our experience.
  • You can download the Audible app on iPhones and iPads and have them on the ready for travel.  My car has a USB cable port that I can plug my phone into and play the app through the stereo. (I just used a bunch of words there that I hope I used in correct sequence. Does what I just said make sense?) I download them onto my phone at home (where I have wireless) and then they are on my phone and ready to go. I don’t keep aaaaalll of them on my phone. There would be no room. They have all been on my phone at one time, and I circulate them through depending on current favorites.
  • When we had more than one room in our house, I would put the titles onto the app on the iPad and bring that into the boys’ room at night (or carry it wherever in the house we needed it). Now that we have ONE room (or have I not mentioned that lately), I just download all the titles to our computer and open them with iTunes. They get organized splendidly under “Books” and with thumbnails that look like this  which means that my kids are perfectly capable of turning on their own stories if I am nursing the baby or otherwise occupied. They have memorized which picture goes to which book. This manner of organization works PERFECTLY for my cluttered brain!
  • Note: I have noticed that it seems that Audible recently changed how you download the titles. After you purchase your titles, you go to your “Library” and, next to each title, you see “Play now” or “Deliver to”. I used to just click “Download” and it would open up straightaway in iTunes. I spent all of a minute fuming that things had changed (I’m an old lady, apparently, and if you change my technology, beware my wrath) and then realized that I could select “Desktop” from the “Deliver to” pull-down menu and then drag it into iTunes. (I have a Mac. If you have a PC, you are on your own.)

Reader Specifics

In the course of writing this series I got a little input:

  • Adrienne from Benedicamus Domino! mentioned that Tomie dePaola read BY Tomie dePaola is delightful (I concur), and also that fairy stories by Andrew Lang are a must.
  • My friend, Jenn, mentioned that her parents used to take video of themselves reading books. Then when would send the book and the recording to their grandkids. I just think this is such a great idea, especially for grandparents that don’t live close to their grandkids!
  • Micaela from California to Korea brought up Whispersync. I haven’t used it. It sounds great. When you purchase the e-book on Amazon, the Audible Whispersync is available “ridiculously cheap”. Basically you can read/listen/listen/read/read/listen/read…et cetera et cetera et cetera (name that movie) and your e-book and audio experience will collaborate so that you don’t have to spend time searching for where you left off. And I can see where this would be completely practical and great. Technology…

And that, my readers, concludes this series, probably the first and only series I will ever write. (Although I’m tempted to write out a series on all my thoughts on the Laura Ingalls Wilder series…maybe just a post…or two…) We (all) have gone from haphazard reader/listeners to intentional literature lovers. I went from being a exhausted-guilty mom who wasn’t sure she had enough voice or energy or patience to read aloud anything more than Pat the Bunny to a mom (still sometimes exhausted and occasionally guilty) who is finding joy in listening to good literature AND in reading aloud. It’s amazing what happens when you cut yourself a little slack, spread yourself a little love, and allow yourself to take baby steps in the right direction.

What books are you going to be reading aloud or listening to?


16 thoughts on “The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Reading With Your Kids (A Mini-Series): Part III

  1. Our reading habits have been evolving in a similar way. The more we do it, the more I’m convinced of how wonderful a thing it is to read and listen together.
    Your list has given me a lot of ideas of what to get next (maybe I need to upgrade my audible subscription)! Not sure if you like Roald Dahl, but my son can’t get enough of his books. Since Christmas we’ve gone through 8 of his books, both audible and actual books. He does have some kinda gruesome stuff and uses the word “stupid” a lot, but I still like the imaginative style of his writing.

    • That’s so great! I’m still on the fence about Dahl. I need to sit down and read for myself (not just remember) and figure out. I know I like some but others I’m not as sure about. Thanks for reminding me to do my research!

  2. Before my MIL passed away she recorded herself reading her favorite books and then bought the copies for both my Husband and his brother. My son and his cousin have been born since she passed but both of them still are able to have reading time with Grandma, it’s very sweet. Right now I type up favorite books and email them to my parents and they read over Skype. 🙂 I’ll have to get some more Audible books soon!

  3. James Herriot! We adore Herriot books here, the novels and the picture books. My high-school senior was just re-reading some of those. Richard Peck is also wonderful. Our entire family enjoys his Grandma Dowdel stories. If your people can handle the scary stuff in Tolkien, the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan is very good.

  4. Love this! Now that the babies are leaving me alone a liiiiittle more, we’ve been reading aloud more and more and their attention spans are getting so much better! We’re still working through The Magic Tree House books (John Paul wants to read them all and there are a loooot – we’re only on #9…) but they get longer as the series goes on, so it’s kind of a natural way of increasing their attention span and willingness to listen to books without pictures.

    We also just started a book on Elizabeth Ann Seton’s life ( and they LOVE it – the chapters are nice and short and written in an engaging style, so I think we’ll definitely be getting more and learning about more saints in more depth than the 1-2 page descriptions most of their saint books have!

  5. What a great kick in the pants/encouraging post! I feel like a “fallen away aloud reader”. I used to read to the kids all the time, but more kids came and the more overwhelmed I became, the less I read. Audio books are a great idea– I need to figure out how to incorporate these!!

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