Beach Reading

Every year, when we head to the beach, we bring with us a few new things for the children.  Mostly, it is stuff to interest them during the long car ride, and usually it involves new books.  This year, we didn't get very many new items (although Curious George Goes to the Beach is a new one); instead, the library provided most of our "new to us" experiences.  Our kids love audiobooks, so we usually get several before a long trip.  Thursday, before we left, I found that our library now "loans" audiobooks as mp3 or wma downloads.  Of course, wma is not automatically ipod supported, so compatibility is a bit of an issue, but I did manage to download several good ones for the trip.  Less to carry/pack is always a good thing.  Happy car-riding children is one of the best things out there.

One caveat: Arthur's Audio Adventures covers several of the original Arthur the Aardvark tales; however, each short book is separated by the same obnoxious (and LONG) Arthur song.  Perhaps it is part of the animated TV series?  I don't know, but I do know that two days later, it is still ringing in my ears. 

The Arthur fiasco aside, audiobooks have really been a beautiful thing for our family.  Especially as our kids get older, the books become more interesting for all involved.  This time, we are working through J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan.  Is there anyone on the planet not familiar with this great story?  I've known the tale for years, but realized as we began listening to the book that I've never read it.  What an unwitting loss I've suffered all these years!  The Disney movie version is surprisingly faithful to the original book, but it does not capture Barrie's unbelievably blithe wit and subtle winks at the parents who undoubtedly would be reading his book.  It is fantastic!  And though the e-edition I have is cumbersome (it is downloaded as a single track, so to return to your spot, you have to fast-forward through hours of material.), the story is so good as to keep us enthralled. 

The other bit of childlike pleasure I've been enjoying lately is The Borrowers by Mary Norton.  Homily, Pod, and Arrietty are charmingly real characters, and I especially love the frame story technique.  It was interesting to watch as our daughter worked out the concept of someone in a story telling a story.  At first, she would ask why we weren't hearing more about Kate and Mrs. May, but she soon settled into the story, focused on the little ones, and seemed to forget about those big humans.  Now, we're almost finished, and Mrs. May and Kate have resurfaced.  Though their reintroduction is interesting, we are in total suspense as to what has happened to Homily, Pod, and Arrietty, which is, I imagine, exactly what Norton desired for that rhetorical technique to achieve. 

What about you?  What's your favorite children's book?  Any suggestions for next time?


  1. I think there's an application that lets you turn an mp3 or other audio file into an "audiobook," meaning that your iPod will remember where you stopped listening & hold your place for you. Here's one option, but I think there are others. Fast-forwarding through to find your place is a total drag!

    Re: children's lit, The Little Prince is a huge favorite of mine, though when I have a kid I'm not sure how I'll ever manage to read it out loud without sobbing.

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  3. Sorry about the sort of spam. I've deleted the comment.

    Emily: Thanks for the info. I'll definitely look into that option when I get back to my main computer. We haven't done The Little Prince yet, and part of me wants to wait until they're patient enough to hear it in the original french. My accent isn't the best, but it would be interesting to see how much they could glean without fluency.