Radio Theatre for Children and Families
Radio Theatre by Focus on the Family is a library of dramatic audio productions based on classic stories and classic values. Beautiful orchestral scores, casts of excellent voice actors, and close adherence to the books they’re based on make these CDs treasures you’ll be glad to buy for presents or your own audio collection.
My children loved Radio Theatre. Every year they’d look forward to getting a new, gift-wrapped story in their Christmas stockings on Christmas morning, and usually they would have finished listening to them all by the end of Boxing Day. I loved giving Radio Theatre classic stories on CD as gifts for a lot of reasons.
I've written leaves describing some of these radio dramas. This page is about my seven top reasons why these make wonderful gifts.
Read My Leaves About These Classics in Audio
You can be assured that the gifts you give are of the highest quality with Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre. They are winners of the George Foster Peabody Award winner for excellence in broadcasting. The productions have also won the Audie Award and the Parent's Choice Award.
Every set of CDs is a radio drama with original orchestral music, cinema-quality digital sound and characters played by highly experienced, professional voice actors. For example, The Chronicles of Narnia was recorded in London with a full cast of well-known actors from stage and screen. David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) plays the voice of Aslan. You'll find David Suchet's name in a number of the other productions as well. The voice of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables is played effectively by Brian Blessed, a joy to listen to. The Screwtape Letters stars Andy Serkis, known worldwide for his portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.
Once you start giving Radio Theatre CDs as presents, you don't have to think of a new gift idea every time an occasion rolls around. My kids looked forward to a new radio drama in their Christmas stocking every year. There are plenty of titles. You can be a "niche giver" for years to come. People enjoying knowing what they're getting, but not what it is, if you see what I mean.
Large presents just don't work for some of the people we buy for. Sometimes the sheer size and storage room needed for a toy or other gift makes it less desirable. The beauty of these CD sets is that they're compact and rectangular so they're easy to wrap, as well as light-weight to pack and mail if you have to ship presents to people farther away. They don't take up a lot of space in the home of the recipient. They store beautifully on a bookshelf, close at hand to listen to over and over again, and the collection can keep on growing without needing a lot of extra room.
What about those special people in your life who are not part of your family - teachers and other people you want to show appreciation to? Have you ever thought about how many gifts these people are given every year? What are they going to do with yet another cute decoration or mug that says "Best Teacher"? Radio Theatre solves the problem of space and satisfaction in a very classy and meaningful way!
One mom writes that her seven and nine year old children listened to Anne of Green Gables straight through – for four hours! That should give you an idea of how interesting and engaging these radio dramas are. Listeners actively use their imaginations as the tale unfolds. They become involved with the characters. What's going to happen next? The time flies by. Families are drawn together as they enjoy the story together.
Radio Theatre can enhance and guide playtime. For example, you could get out the Thanksgiving toys and play The Legend of Squanto at the same time. Connections begin to click as children listen and play. Playtime can be less fractious when kids are listening to a great story that holds their interest.
Radio Theatre is a great door opener to some of the classic stories that children, and even adults, might find difficult to read. This way, we learn the story, become familiar with the characters and grow comfortable with the way the language is used. Because the people are acted, the story is engaging right away. On the other hand, imagination plays an important part because there is no video to dictate what the character looks like, or how the setting appears.
Although abridged out of necessity, the scripts remain very true to the original book. You won't find plot revisions or changed contexts and motivations like you often do with movies based on classics.
It's family entertainment with heart. Focus on the Family's Radio Theater stories are carefully chosen to support ethical values and good character. These classic stories show all sides of human nature, but they also give us hope. People can change. People can make good choices. People can recover from bad choices. Human experience is explored and examined with compassion and understanding. We learn and grow as we listen to tales of poor decisions, great valor, kindness, pettiness, friendship, loyalty, treachery, greed, self-sacrifice, mercy, laughter, tears and love. It's all there. We find ourselves aspiring to live our own lives just a little better because of the characters whose lives we have shared for a few hours. We find ourselves challenged to live a little bigger.
You can listen while you're doing other things. Chores go much faster when you have a story to listen to, instead of thinking about how long the job is taking and how tedious it is. This is especially true for kids, who enjoy the reward of a good story while they get the work done. Adults enjoy listening to a classic author, hearing an inspiring tale or revisiting a much-loved story from childhood while commuting, cleaning, cooking or exercising.
The right radio drama can be perfect for quiet time. It makes bedtime something to look forward to instead of something to resist.
A Radio Theatre story is perfect for a road trip. The miles fly by as everyone in the car enjoys the tale together, bonding through the shared experience, instead of asking, "Are we there yet?"
When you're into a program, commercials can be annoying, or worse. One of my biggest peeves with watching television is being bombarded with persuasion. The advertising is constantly trying to convince me that my life would improve if only I bought _____ (fill in the blank). Of course, my life without those products is sadly inadequate, or so they tell me. The impact on adults is strong. The impact on children is even stronger. From toys to food to clothes, if the kids see it on television, they need to have it. Their ability to be content suffers. And with all that begging and pleading, so do their parents.
More than that, the TV shows themselves often try to convince me that I should buy into certain values, morals, and lifestyle choices … because that's how the “real” world is. Sometimes I'm appalled by the agendas that are being pushed at me in cloak of entertainment. If you've ever found yourself manipulated into total sympathy with a character who is actually a criminal, and rooting for him to get away with it, you know exactly what I'm talking about.