Monday, February 9, 2009
Old School Entertainment
Call me scrooge, old-fashioned, or whatever - I suspect a member of my carpool has called me worse. But when it comes to the wonderful technology in my minivan that enables passengers to watch a DVD, Tim and I have somewhat arbitrarily developed a two-hour rule. Meaning that if the trip is less than two hours, the DVD player will not be used. Will we stretch this rule to a ninety-minute trip? Probably. But for the 25-30 minute ride to school each day, no way.
Lest my three carpoolers (and Danny) be forced to actually talk to each other each morning (horrors!), I found something that has proven to be quite a big hit with the kids: audio books. Specifically, the Magic Tree House books. I cannot say enough about these books, which were the first chapter books we introduced to Clare and which are the gift we most frequently give to the 5- and 6-year-old set these days. When we first discovered that they were offered in audio format (in a Wendy's kids' meal), we were all pretty excited. I was even more delighted when I realized what a great tool they would be for our morning commute. The first morning I popped one in while driving to school (it was one of those tense mornings early in the school year, when there was still some anxiety on the part of some of the riders, and the three of them didn't know each other all that well), all the kids were rapt - and you could just see the wheels turning in their heads. It was also an instant, common conversation starter for them. Naturally, the excitement waned for a while, especially because we only had four of the MTH books on CD. However, last week I discovered a treasure trove of them on iTunes, and the magic has returned. In fact, Clare was inspired to bring a bag full of her MTH books (there are 40 of them, with #41 coming out next month) into the van. It's a great feeling to watch the kids read books and compare pictures while listening (even Danny gets absorbed). At one point last week, Max suddenly burst out, "Hey! Let's pretend the car is the magic tree house!" And for the rest of the ride they weren't Max and Clare, but Jack and Annie on their way to an exciting adventure at a place called Christ the King. Shouldn't every trip to school be this enthusiastic?