Read Aloud (or Audiobook) Activities for Big Kids

Missing Read Aloud Time During COVID-19 Quarantine?

I don’t know about you, but our audiobook consumption has dropped this year.

In the pre-COVID-19 era, we always had audiobooks going in the car. As a mom to two 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old, I was fully in the “chauffeur stage” of parenting. We made the most of our car time, listening to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, Animal Farm, The Yearling, and Father Brown this year. Glorious!

Fast forward a couple of months, and my kids and I were missing our audiobooks. No one wanted to sit around staring at each other while we listened. My teen boys have approximately zero interest in coloring, but we clearly needed some read aloud (or audiobook) activities.

Enter: Puzzles

We enjoy puzzles, but we’re not nuts about them. They tend to be a vacation activity, a couple of times a year. But now, we have lots of time on our hands–at home. My state is still pretty locked down, and we’re still not going many places.

We got out a puzzle, turned on an audiobook, and we were off and running.

In the past few weeks, we’ve done 3 large puzzles. One was a 2000 piece Star Wars puzzle that took us ALL WEEK. One was a delightful 1980s puzzle (that we worked on whilst listening to 80s tunes, naturally). Next up: a crazy hard Texas puzzle we’d done before. We even got up super early one morning to finish The Season of Styx Malone before it was set to expire from my virtual library shelf. We also nearly finished the Texas puzzle at the same time. #winwin

One other benefit to a puzzle: if your vacation plans are limited this year, you can work on a puzzle that reminds you of a favorite previous vacation or is a place on your bucket list!

Read Aloud (or Audiobook) Activities for Big Kids

There are lots of other read aloud activities, whether mom or dad is reading aloud or you’re listening to an audiobook. Consider one of the following if you’re looking for ways to reclaim this time, especially for your older kids:

Puzzles!Coloring postcards to send to far away family/friends (note: even my teen boys will get into the spirit of coloring if it’s for someone else; a postcard is a manageable size for one listening session; I’ve linked to our favorite sets below!)Coloring adult coloring books (lots of teens find these relaxing–even some boys; I’ve linked to some of our favorites below)Extreme dot-to-dot books (again, see below for particulars)A puzzle-type activity like a Rubik’s CubeA handicraft such as knitting, cross-stitch, crocheting, whittling, knot-tie-ing, making friendship bracelets, etc.Play-doh (even big kids still enjoy Play-doh!)Our house listening rules are as follows: nothing with text (i.e. no writing a letter; coloring is fine). Nothing with noise. Nothing you don’t already know how to do (it’s pretty distracting to have people interrupting the read aloud with questions about how to cast on a stitch or tie a knot). And my personal favorite: “You don’t have to listen, but you have to be quiet so other people can.”

What are YOUR favorite read aloud activities? Are you finding time for audiobooks?

Let us know in the comments!

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I’ve included some links for White Mountain puzzles below; they’ve been consistently high quality for us. We really like the collage-style images for group puzzle action. They can be expensive, so consider going in with another family and passing the puzzles back and forth as people finish them. Or, perhaps your vacation budget has some extra wiggle room this year. Note: there are many “I Love [your state]” options, too, so consider looking those up!

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