I don’t think it would surprise anyone when I say this has been a busy summer. Busy. I think the best word I can use to describe our summer season this year is intense. The weather, the build, the boys…everything has seemed magnified. It’s been tricky, in amongst all that, to find time for connection, stories, shared ideas. I’m not sure I’ve managed it well but the one thing I can say is that we’ve used the time we had had as best we can.
I’ve always enjoyed listening to audiobooks and the boys seem to like them too; so it occurred to me at the beginning of the summer, when it became evident that at least an hour of driving a day was in our future (turns out it has often been much, much more) that I would have a very captive audience. So this summer our car has been, in part, our school. We have listened to some of the best children’s books every written (read by wonderful actors) in our hours in the car. As we have clocked up the miles we’ve also absorbed many beautiful books.
Here are some of the ones that stand out:
The Secret Garden Frances Hodgeson Burnett
The Little House Series (we listened to Farmer Boy twice, back to back) there are 9 books in this series, we’d listened to some before be they are worth a second visit and we enjoyed them all as if they were brand new to us. We tried to get them sequentially but found it didn’t diminish our enjoyment if we had to skip one and come back to it. Laura Ingalls Wilder
Anne of Green Gables L.M Montgomery
Anne of the Island (we skipped book 2 because the narrator sounded like a speak and spell) L.M Montgomery
The Railway Children E.N. Nesbitt
The Phoenix and the Carpet E.N. Nesbitt
Little Men Louise May Alcott
Various Magic Treehouse stories Mary Osbourne
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
What Katy Did Susan Coolidge
Huwyl has also enjoyed the Geronimo Stilton series but they were listened to at home rather than by all of us. He’s also enjoyed various stories by Jim Weiss and other collections of fairy tales and folk tales.
The summer has unfolded around us as we’ve made our daily journey back and forth, racking up the miles and watching the season turn around us. What could have been torturous has instead been a pleasure, ‘down time’ for all of us.
I’m a huge fan of audio books for children (and for myself) for lots of reasons but mainly because I love the way the language will just wash over the listener, allowing for progression where it would otherwise have stalled. Throughout the summer I’ve heard Huwyl come out with little phrases that he’d picked up from the stories, one day he cried “Mercy on us!” which was the ‘catchphrase’ of Alonzo Wilder’s mother in Farmer Boy. It was so comical to hear it coming out of this exhuberant boys’ mouth but was also a reminder of just how much children do soak up from the world they are exposed to.
Despite the manic days and weeks our car has been a bit of a safe haven, a world where stories flow and we can relax in each other’s company and be taken away from our current world to a whole new place. No need for talking or conversation from a tired mummy who’s brain hurts by about 2pm. Less arguing between crabby siblings who are being more patient than they should have to be. And the joy of listening to some of the most beautiful stories ever written.
The heat of the summer has waxed and then waned, edging towards autumn. The rush of our lives has sent us spinning until we were all dizzy, but in the car we were in a world of our own.
Though I will not be sorry when this part of our journey is over and we can finally relax in our home, I will miss our forced captivity and the comforting worlds of Laura, Anne and all the other friend’s we’ve met this summer. They’ve helped me through some tough times, I look forward to visiting with them again.