Do you have many miles to go? And do you have a 3-year-old that hates the car, but is frightened even by the dramatics of Romana Beasley? I feel your pain. That was our scenario for many years.
My 3-year-old is now 7-years-old but continues to be sensitive to anything that contains an inkling of suspense. Forget anything with a soundtrack that might help to build the action. Absolutely out of the question. And yet, my now 9-year-old - who isn’t as sensitive to these things - is looking to hear some well-told tales. I wish I could say I can make up my own story for three hours non-stop (heck, even a half hour). I’m still working on that. In the meantime, here are some really sensitive stories we’ve dug up to help pass the travel time:
Libby and Dish by Sparkle Stories. Libby and Dish is a series is about a young girl - Libby - who actually is sensitive - gets nervous about play dates, doesn’t like to mix up her routine, has techniques for calming down. Her best is her cat Dish, who helps her navigate through the world as a sensitive child. I mention this series first, because they even have a Thanksgiving Day story about how Libby deals with her mom being busy and anxious as she prepares for relatives to arrive - a real thing for a sensitive child (and really for every child). I also mention Sparkle Stories because I wish I had found it sooner. It is a subscription story service with an exhaustive library of original tales. Not only that, you can search the stories according to age (starting as young as 3-years-old), theme, or - once you get to know the stories - collection name. There is a collection about a brother and sister - Martin and Sylvia - who home school and who attend a nature school. There is a collection about each state (if you’re traveling through many states this holiday). There is a collection for sleepy time. There is a fairy collection and a medieval collection. So many options. The subscription service is $15 a month. For us - with the amount of peaceful, enriching hours it’s helped pass - it’s been worth its weight in gold.
The Aardvark Who Wasn’t Sure by Jill Tomlinson - a super sweet story about a little aardvark who wants to know how it is exactly that he is an aardvark. He lives in his burrow with his mother and meets several other animal friends who explain how they get about in the world. He learns what makes an elephant an elephant, what makes a monkey a monkey and so on. And most importantly, her learns what makes him uniquely an aardvark. Maureen Lipman narrates this tale and she is fantastic - entertaining to both children and adults alike. The only questionable part happens when the little one thinks he smells a lion. But there is no soundtrack to accompany this part and it lasts no more than 30 seconds, so feel free to skip over or hold hands through it. If you like this story, there is a whole series by the same author and narrator. The only one that was on the scarier side is The Gorilla Who Wanted to Grow Up. We enjoyed all of them and listened to each several times.
The Lighthouse Family Series by Cynthia Rylant. Cynthia Rylant is a well-known and beloved children’s book author that writes really thoughtful books. In this series, children will meet a family of new characters - Seabold the dog - who gets stranded at see - Pandora the cat - who runs the lighthouse and rescues Seabold - their three adopted mouse children love to go on adventures by the sea. They take care of each other’s hearts and bodies and live a charmed life with some not-too-harrowing adventures. Good for the whole family.
For the slightly more advanced:
Love Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles. I can’t tell you how much we love this story. So funny, so deep. Judith Ivey - the narrator - is simply fantastic. And yet I rarely see it on audio book lists. I say it is for the more advanced because there is some tension between Ruby Lavender and some other characters in the story as they navigate some hard feelings around a mutual relative that died in an accident. However, even these moments of tension are told with such humor that a more sensitive child may be able to sit through it. My sensitive one was able to listen when she turned six-years-old. The other bonus of this story is that we laughed and laughed. Ruby Lavendar is a country-girl form of Ramona Beasly. She is full of spunk and a big heart.