I am possibly the world’s biggest fan of audiobooks for children.
We use them during quiet time, on car rides, when one of my children just needs a little time to calm down, and, of course, at bedtime.
When I was growing up, my mom would turn on a book on tape in the hallway that all three of the children’s bedrooms connected to and we’d all lay quietly in our respective beds, listening to time-travel adventures or historical fiction or tales of regular children.
Now, when I tuck my own children into bed at night, part of the routine is turning on their audiobooks and letting them drift off to sleep to the narration of their favorite books.
Here are some of my best tips for using audiobooks at bedtimes — I hope they’ll help you make audiobooks a wonderful part of your routine too!
1. Find the device that works best for your family. For most of my children, an old-school CD player is easiest. By the time they’re about 3, they’re able to stop and start it, and change out the CDs — plus, there is no temptation to use the CD player for other things like there is when using a phone or tablet. On the other hand, a tablet or phone is really convenient because you can get any audiobook you want in a few seconds from an app or through your library, there’s no worries about scratching discs or a disc skipping, and you can set a timer to have the audio turn off after a pre-set amount of time. You can also use a bluetooth speaker to stream from your phone, so they aren’t tempted by the screen.
2. Try audiobook versions of books they’ve already read. Since your kids will often fall asleep midway through a book, it’s nice to choose books they’ve already read. If they miss a chapter or two, they can still follow the story. Plus, relistening to something that’s familiar is comforting and relaxing, which makes it easy to drift off.
3. Avoid scary or super-suspenseful books. Most parents want bedtime to include SLEEPING, so now is not the time to hand your child a book that’s scary or too suspenseful. No one wants a terrified child running into your room when you thought they were tucked into bed for the night.
4. Don’t be afraid of repetition. My oldest daughter likes listening to new books, but my younger children love listening to the same book over and over again for several weeks before moving on. I love seeing them really connect with a story and understand the characters, the plot, and the development — repetition is so good for a child’s brain!
5. Make audiobooks a privilege. My children LOVE listening to audiobooks in bed — it’s way more fun than staring at the ceiling waiting to fall asleep. The rule in our house is that they can listen as long as they stay in bed, lying down. If they get out of bed to play with toys or come out of their room, it means it’s time for the audiobook to be over for the night. This highly incentivizes them to stay in their bed, which gives them the best shot at actually falling asleep.