Audiobooks (or, How I Got My Hands Back)


As anyone else with a tiny person would know, most of the time your hands aren’t free to do things. Sure, there’s ‘falling-asleep-on-my-lap-time’ where I can gently reach around and try to get some work done on the computer, but there’s not an awful lot of time where all of my limbs are available for things like walking from one room to the next. My days are carefully planned forts where I can reach everything I might need from beneath my sleeping child.

As he gets bigger though, there’s more playing on the mat time than there used to be. Mostly because he can hold his head up now so things aren’t quite as frustrating (although there’s always that just out of reach rattle to really drive him crazy). We work our way through endless hours of dancing (with me holding him), nursery rhymes (me moving his limbs), books (together on our tummys or him on my lap), toys and so on. But recently I’ve discovered the beauty of audiobooks.

These are not lazy because a. I’m right there with him, b. we still read an awful lot of paper (board) books and c. it is actually an important time for him to learn to just chill out on his own, with me not too far away.

I’ve got and have listened to a fair few audiobooks. My old job at The Little Bookroom saw me spending hours each day in the car, and audiobooks were a great alternative to dodgy radio, particularly on the longer trips. And I remember as a kid (when audiobooks were cassette tapes, or in my case even some on record!), loving that time in the afternoon when my nanna and I would sit in front of the fire and I would listen to that entrancing storytellers voice weave tales of far away from our crackly old speakers. The storyteller of my childhood sounded (I’m sure, although I can’t guarantee the trustworthiness of this memory) a lot like Neil Gaiman, and so as a result my own personal favourite from the audiobooks I own is his unabridged reading of ‘The Graveyard Book’. If you haven’t heard it I highly recommend that you have a listen – I wish he would record all children’s audiobooks.

But for my tiny person, a recent addition to our collection has been ‘Olivia’, the audio collection read by Dame Edna Everage. I can’t even tell you how high my heart leapt when I put this on the speakers and he gave a delighted chuckle (this is a new sound for him and I am obsessed with it). I suspect that at for months some of his delight came from the discovery that the red box only inches from his head was capable of producing such a variety of sounds (and light if the ipod screen was lit up). But his joy at listening to these five tales (of a nice, short picture book length, just right for four-month-old attention spans) has only grown as this storytime has become part of our nightly routine.

Dame Edna is actually a perfect choice as narrator. Her tone is ideal for little ears catching on all new sounds and is appealing enough that other distractions fall to the wayside, for a little while at least. Piano punctuates the story where the illustrations would have, adding another level of sound for those little listeners. And if you have the book all the better, it’s a great time to read along together with the music in the background.

I’m loving this new part to our routine. It reminds me of really happy moments from my own childhood and I hope that one day he can say the same thing.

You can also hear an exert from the book here.