Honda said it wants help families, who spend an average of four hours each week in their cars, put all that commuting time to better use. The automaker’s Road Readers program aims to give Honda drivers free access to children’s audiobooks.
A press release from Honda said the Road Readers program starts with Honda owners going to www.HondaRoadReaders.com to register, then downloading an app via either the Google Play Store or iTunes, depending on whether you’re an Android or iOS kind of tech user. After that, the Honda owner will either scan or key in their car’s 17-digit VIN number into the app, which will in turn grant them access to five free audiobooks per VIN. The press release said the first audiobook is J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”, with the other four books being the choice of the app user.
Reportedly, the app will feature a rotating selection of 10 audiobooks in several genres, including fantasy/adventure, mystery, science fiction, and teens.
Honda/Acura Regional Media and Marketing Assistant Vice President Susie Rossick said, “The goal for the Honda Road Readers program is to provide an educational and entertaining alternative to the usual car ride and inspire young listeners to vividly imagine. This effort is a powerful demonstration of our commitment to the brand’s ‘Power of Dreams’ philosophy by encouraging our customers and their families to dream big together.”
Honda said it will include critical-thinking questions with most books in an effort to get parents and children to dive deeper into each story. As for the book selection, the automaker said it teamed with the National Teacher of the Year Program to select a range of books that will be entertaining and intellectually stimulating.
Seventh-grade English teacher and 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki, of Burbank, Calif., said, “Students learn best when they have enthusiastic teachers, and parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. Honda Road Readers will help families share the infectious fun of reading together on journeys of the mind, the imagination and the heart. Reading not only boosts academic success but also awakens a person’s social and civic sense. They help us know and be mesmerized by the world around us and give us a sense of how we fit in. Simply put, books change lives for the better.”
So why audiobooks? Honda said it commissioned a survey of more than 1,500 parents with children between the ages of 5 and 16. The survey reportedly found 77% of parents think listening to books or stories read aloud is very important for children’s cognitive development and developing listening skills. The release also said the survey found 69% of parents are concerned their children are spending too much time in front of screens, such as the cell phones and tablets that your kids might pry from your grasp anytime you head out on a road trip.
Of course, this is far from the first kid-friendly audiobook program out there. Any fan of literature, Honda owner or not, has probably researched the availability of their children’s favorite books in audio format from services like Amazon’s Audible. However, if this program gets non-bookworms thinking about ways to keep their kids entertained on the road without resorting to Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga, I’m sure Honda would call that a win.
Meanwhile, our toddler continues to rely on the old-fashioned “look out the windows or take a nap” entertainment regime on the road, just like his mom and dad did when they were his age. We briefly considered a portable DVD player, but decided we survived just fine without constant entertainment on the road, and so could our kids.
I know, we’re monsters.
I figure by the time my kids are old enough to want more entertainment in the car than looking out the window or napping can provide, I will have subliminally molded their musical tastes to hew closely to my own while also giving them an appreciation for NPR programming like Car Talk.
Don’t judge me. I still read to them at home. Bedtime stories are a hit around here.