So What Happens in the Car?

I have to admit that the car has changed since I was a kid. I remeber sitting on the “transmission hump” in our International Harvester as we drove to place to place. No seatbelt, nice steel dashboard to fly into, and I don’t even think it had a radio.

Silverwing CoverToday, we seem to have a continuing collection of audio books for our kids to listen to in the car. I’ve really enjoyed this as well, because some of the kids literature we’re listening to is really fascinating. I like the Silverwing books by Kenneth Oppel. The first Artemis Fowl book was well-read. I enjoyed the The Last Lobo by Roland Smith.

At first, we only had the audio books for the long drive to Montana and back each summer, but now we have them year round. We talk about the stories and the issues. We laugh at the humor. It reminds me of the BBC radio shows I used to listen to when living in London, but not as dramatic or produced. It also reminds me of the “time before TV” when families would gather round the radio in the living room.

I know that Podcasts are becoming more popular, and our students are producing some this year. My wife bought a “learn Spanish in your car” set yesterday at Powells bookstore, to refresh her college Spanish before a trip to Central America. The audio environment is alive again.

As for DVD players in cars, I wonder if they’re such a great idea. We’ve noticed that more of our parents have kids watching DVDs as they drive in each morning, and go home at night. The teachers have expressed concerns because some of the very young kids seem to be watching inappropriate films (PG-13 or higher), and others are worried about the kids being plugged into video for even more hours a day.

Maybe it’s elitist to say “DVDs in the car are bad” while I enjoy audio books with my family in the car (and pretty much no where else), but to me it seems like there’s a difference. I like read aloud times– even as an adult.

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