Read Alongs And Playaways: Books That Talk to Kids

Read Along & Playaways: Books That Talk to Kids

by Meredith Bartolo Pappas

Remember old-school books on tape? Read Along, like Vox Books, are the updated version with the tagline “Books That Talk.” They are books that have mechanisms connected to them that play an audio recording of the story, complete with sounds that signal when to turn the page, and are great for toddlers to kindergarteners.

Playaways, From Hachette Audio, are audiobooks for older children, kindergarten and up, that can be listened to on headphones.

Read Along And Playaways: Books That Talk to Kids

Both are fantastic ways to get more books into your kids’ hands, even if they aren’t reading yet. Here’s why

For Younger Children, Toddler/Preschool and Up, Try Read Along:

  • Great Selection:
    We borrowed a bunch for our local library, including Dress Like A Girl by Patricia Toht and Lorian Tu-Dean, The Tiny Baker by Hayley Barrett and Alison Jay, Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds, Sometimes Rain by Meg Fleming and Diana Sudyka, and Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall.

    I love that the mechanism doesn’t inhibit your ability to read the book on its own because all of the books we tried were good in and of themselves so we were able to enjoy reading them many times without the books “talking” to us too .
  • Builds Independence:
    They were fun for my youngest to enjoy on her own since she could make the story play whenever she wanted. She could listen and turn the pages to the sound cue without help and really feel like she was being read to while still having ownership over the book. This provided a positive sense of ability around books and really strengthened her independence.
  • Builds Pre-Reading Skills:
    Though these books aren’t meant to help with teaching children how to read or even supporting beginning reading skills, they are great for building pre-reading skills, like turning pages and listening. They also reinforce a love for books and stories! All of these things help build a strong reading foundation.
  • So Easy To Use!:
    They are so simple to use that my three-year-old was able to figure them out almost immediately. You can play, pause, go forward and back, and change the volume all with easy buttons, and they last for a long time without needing to be charged. Since we borrowed ours from the library, we didn’t have our own charging station for them but we had them for three weeks without needing to re-up on power!
  • Story Time Is Any Time:
    My daughter always seems to want me to read to her when I am cooking dinner, and Vox Books really came in clutch here! She can have her story time while I am busy in the kitchen without any fuss. They are also great for road trips or other times when you might not be able to read but your little one wants a story now! Just be aware they don’t have headphone capability so they might not be great if you are on an important phone call or other times when an enthusiastic narrator might not be the sound you want in the background!
  • Screen-Free Entertainment:
    These are a great alternative to screen time! Though they aren’t very long, usually about ten minutes or so per book, they are entertaining enough to keep little ones busy while offering all the benefits of reading. It is a good balance for screen time, especially on days that need a little more entertainment mixed in.

Reading a Read Along Book

For Older Kids, Kindergarten and Up, Try Playaways:

  • Screen-Free Listening:
    These little devices are just right for older children who want to listen to a chapter book on their headphones. A great way to “zone out,” without using television or a tablet. We listened to The Wild Robot by Peter Brown and it was so entertaining, a fantastic escape from the everyday!
  • Easy to use:
    They have simple buttons, including volume and a screen lock so you can put it in a pocket and not accidentally rewind or fast-forward.
  • No Internet Needed:
    The books are pre-downloaded into the device so you don’t have to worry about the internet for it to play. No freezing or long download times, just plug in your headphones and listen!
  • Travel-Friendly:
    In addition to not needing the internet, they are so compact, they can slip into a pocket or backpack easily without taking up much room and can be listened to anywhere, including by plugging in to the car if you have the right adapter!
  • Encourages Listening and Imagination:
    Though these are fun for older kids who can already read fluently, they are also really great for children who are not quite reading at chapter-book level but are ready for chapter-book length stories. They build listening skills and give children a chance to imagine the scene in their minds, especially if they are just transitioning away from picture books where the scene is illustrated for them. This is a step in building a stronger reading foundation and cognitive flexibility.
  • Supports Reluctant Readers:
    If you have a kiddo that doesn’t love to read, this can still get them enjoying books! Just because they don’t choose reading as their favorite activity, doesn’t mean they should miss out on the joy of stories and storytelling. If you find a Playaway that they love, you can encourage them to then read the book on their own or see if there is a sequel they might like to try reading. They can get a copy of the book to “read along with” while they listen. Or listen to the Playaway as a family so you can talk about it and keep the excitement and connection going! Really, it’s just about giving them the opportunity to enjoy a book, through reading or listening.

Overall, I recommend both Vox Books and PlayAways as a supplement to other forms of reading, both together and independently. They are a fun way to let your kids experience the joys of stories on their own terms and provide some screen-free entertainment, especially throughout long summer days or road trips. Adding to your reading time with Playaways or Vox Books will keep stories exciting!

About Meredith Bartolo Pappas

Meredith is a licensed teacher with almost twenty years of experience in education. Her specialties are holistic learning, early literacy, and social-emotional development. She is also a reading specialist, artist, and mom of two. She loves all things bookish, magical, and cozy. Find her at Sharing Circle Education sharingcircleeducation.com and on Instagram @sharingcircleeducation.

KEEP READING

Summer Reading Lists for Kids
Summer Reading Book Lists for Kids

Kids Magazines
magazines for kids children's magazines kids magazines

Children’s Picture Books
picture books

Leave a Comment