We held out for a very long time on getting a DVD player for the car. In fact, we still don’t actually own one but have one on extended loan from a friend who now has a flip down one in her van. While there was an air of you’ll-just-have-to-learn-to-entertain-yourself-in-the-car-like-we-did-in-the-old-days to our choice, we’re not anti-TV. My girls watch PBS, Noggin, movies, etc, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little.
We simply decided we’d get a portable DVD player if we needed one. When M was a toddler, a bag of books would entertain her for ages in the car. Then we’d come up with games like guess that pony. One person describes a My Little Pony and the other guesses which pony is being described. This of course requires encyclopedic knowledge of ponies but that was no problem in our house.
Then car sickness set in with a vengeance and we switched to audio books. At first, when M was 2-3, we got collections of short stories, The Frances Audio Collection (Russell Hoban’s Frances books), Curious George, Thomas the Train, and various Dr. Suess books were our favorites. We also listened to several audio renditions of favorite Disney movies, Aladdin, Cinderella, etc. These stories took us through many a long drive, and we also started listening on shorter trips around town.
We borrowed our friend’s DVD player when we took our first drive longer than 5 hours, thinking we’d really need it. We did use it, but we also listened to lots of stories and longer books. Now, if our drive is longer than 4 hours, we bring the DVD player and use it as needed. But we always head to the library to collect a slew of audio books as well. On our most recent long drive (7.5 hours) we listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and were all enraptured by the wonderful retelling. Even 2yo C paid attention at times and picked things up like the fact that they were on a train or flying on brooms.
Recently, M has enjoyed listening to audio books after lunch when I still attempt to enforce some quiet time or at other times of the day when she needs a break from her usual level of activity. Right now, she’s listening to American Girl Felicity’s book collection for the second time.
Some of our other favorite audio books:
Mrs Piggle Wiggle, read by Karen White
Magic Tree House series, read by the author, Mary Pope Osborne
Betsy-Tacy performed by Sutton Foster
The Moffats read by Cynthia Bishop