The current accepted statistic is that 30% of morning traffic – and by definition the afternoon traffic as well – is filled by the school run. Parents pile their children into the car and set off for school for an average of at least 20 minutes, and often more.
That is a lot of time spent in the car – mainly dead time.
So what about using it fruitfully? The concept of adult learning in the car, using that time positively – if you are not learning a language, then listening to a classic or a talk on world economy – is far more widespread than using it as learning time for children.
It needn’t be heavy duty – and maybe with hours of school coming up, or time to wind down that may be inappropriate! If your young charges are pushed too far, parents might find they have a revolution on their hands. But children can be persuaded to put away their computer games if they find they are equally entertained by a lively but informative audiobook – relayed either through the CD player or by plugging in the phone.
Since we started 20 years ago, Naxos AudioBooks has built up a strong library of audiobooks for younger listeners. There are all the classic stories: Peter Pan, Tom Sawyer, The Eagle of the Ninth, Alice in Wonderland and many, many more; there are the retellings of the great myths: Tales from the Greek Legends, Tales from the Norse Legends, Great Rulers of Ancient Rome and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
And there are all the audiobooks on history and music and other topics. Some are classics in their own right, such as H. E Marshall’s Our Island Story, an evergreen account of English history.
But almost from the start we began commissioning our own texts and recording them – a rare enterprise for an audiobook company! – and they have proved one of the most popular corners of our releases aimed at younger listeners. The stories of people who have made an impression on the world fascinate children. Famous People in History, which I wrote, tells the story of varied individuals including Columbus, Shakespeare, Mozart and Anne Frank, and has been a popular recording for over 15 years.
Famous Composers, written by Darren Henley, managing director of Classic FM and read by Aled Jones or alternatively Marin Alsop is equally popular, with its portraits of Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak and Shostakovich – enhanced with lots of music from the Naxos catalogue.
This month we have a new release, Dinosaurs by Jen Green, read by Benjamin Soames, whose friendly voice has become a familiar sound for many young people who regularly listen to our Junior series. You might have thought that you need pictures to go with an account of dinosaurs, but Jen Green packs her account with so much fascinating detail that telling the story of these incredible creatures becomes so compelling you are glued to the loudspeakers or headphones.
Other science programmes also are full of information which can broaden a child’s knowledge when stuck in traffic on the way to school. Great Explorers of the World (including Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Vasco da Gama, Captain Cook and Lewis and Clark) cover a wide range; so do Great Inventors and their Inventions (including Archimedes, Gutenberg, Franklin, Marconi and Edison) and Great Scientists and their Discoveries (including Galileo, Boyle, Newton, Faraday and Francis Crick).
So, if you are doing the school run every day, and rather pale at the thought, why not take a look at the Junior Classics range on this website. You may have found a resource to make those journeys more entertaining and useful for your offspring – and, as many adults attest, for yourself as well!
You can also read previous entries on the blog.