Monday, June 23, 2008

Too much Harry Potter?

My oldest has recently taken to listening to books on tape. I introduced her to Harry Potter on tape, read by Jim Dayle, and she's never gone back. We got portable tape recorders, battery operated, with handles, and now both girls wander around the house in a semi-daze, listening to their prospective stories. Wizard of Oz for the youngest, and HP for the oldest. She's gone through five, count 'em, FIVE HP books on tape in about two months time. And that's after listening to several of them over and over and over and over again. The last one she finished is The Order of the Phoenix and now she's ready for Half-Blood Prince. She gets to watch the movie after listening to the books. I am a huge HP fan. But hearing HP stories and the awesome Jim Dayle's voice in the background almost constantly is beginning to stir higher levels of madness in my house.

I find myself getting lost while driving to familiar places if I let her listen to it in the car. Because then I listen to the story and forget where we are going or miss off-ramps and such. It's truly terrible!

I have even found the words "No Harry Potter at the dinner table!" issuing forth from my lips! Imagine, not wanting to talk about Harry 24/7! Previous to this tape-recording period, I would not imagine not wanting to discuss Ms. Rowling's series til my children graduated from college (a yet distant dream). But now, I find myself with little to say on the matter as my child has asked all sorts of questions and upon watching the movies again with her or hearing certain parts of the story, I find myself nearly in tears over parts about love and friendship or involving characters who are not yet dead.

She listens first thing in the morning. While getting ready for bed. While taking a bath. This last is a problem as it causes her to take an undue amount of time preparing for the bath and then relaxing in the bath while not much bathing gets done, or done rather slowly. This proves to be a problem not only for the other bathers but also because we are currently in a drought and the less water used the better.

And I have even banned HP as a punishment when nothing else phases her! "What?! You hit your sister while watching Order of the Phoenix? You have to wait til tomorrow to finish the movie! There will be no sister-hitting over a movie, no matter which movie it is." "I don't care that she was being a pain and waving her fanny at you!" "No, I don't care that she was kicking you at the same time." "(youngest's name), don't kick your sister or wave your fanny at her!" And so on. Or I'll take her tape recorder away for some particular insolence. Oh boy, that brings the tears on like only taking away a beloved privilege or playtime with a friend can do.
So, I think I'm happy that they've discovered the world of books on tape, because it certainly is a marvelous one that I enjoyed growing up, and still do. But, is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? The sound of silence is precious amid the otherwise noisy voices and sound effects of literary cacophony. Fortunately, they have lots of other activities that cause them to run around, swim, hang upside down, climb walls, paint pictures, and such, so they haven't turned into complete turnips listening to books on tape all the time.

When it comes to audio books, old-fashioned cassettes are the best because you can stop and start them just where you want. Small, portable CD players with speakers are hard to find. I haven't seen any. My own CD player needs to be hooked up to ungainly but small speakers to be heard without headphones. The plug-in type of CD player loses its place when you stop it or remove power. Audio books must be stopped and started at the exact same spot. Even my ipod pales in comparison with the humble tape player for ease of use and portability, without requiring head phones. I hope they never do away with cassette tapes. I love my tape player!