In the middle of selling our house and moving cross-country, audiobooks saved my sanity. All four of us lived in a hotel room for weeks and when it was too early to go anywhere, too quiet to bounce around, Jack and Annie (from Magic Tree House) would “babysit” my kids. They are wild, full of energy, and live for wrestling and climbing trees but turn the right story on and they can’t help but slow down and listen, rapt and engaged.
Audiobooks with kids: tips for getting started!
Audiobooks are not “cheating”, and listening to them has many of the same benefits as reading with your eyeballs. Even more important to me as a parent, they are fun! I want to share the love so here is my best sales pitch on why your kids need to listen to audiobooks, how to start off right, and some of our favorite stories to get you started! Leave a comment if you have any tips you think I should include.
The most consistent way we use audiobooks is for rest time! This was a hill I was willing to die on since I knew we planned to homeschool; after lunch both kids are expected to be quiet and entertain themselves for roughly an hour. Audiobooks are their favorite way to pass the time! They also often listen to them throughout the day, sometimes during lunch, and always in the car, especially like on our 30+ hour Yellowstone trip.
How to make audiobooks a big hit in your house
- If you take one tip away from this post let it be this one: keep trying! Just because your kid doesn’t get hooked by the first or second book you try, does NOT mean they’ll never get into them. It might be the story, the narrator, the situation, or something else that you need to tweak or change but don’t give up!
- If your kiddo is having trouble getting hooked on a new story, sometimes it’s easier to start a new story while in the car when they don’t have many other options to distract them.
- There are lots of options for what to listen to audiobooks on! We typically use a mini ipad and these headphones as needed but you can play audiobooks on any modern phone or use a portable CD player for the actual disks.
- A great place to start is finding an audiobook version of a story they already know and love and/or finding a audiobook that comes with a matched picture book so they can follow along with the pictures.
- Don’t be afraid to abandon ship. Just like with you as an adult, if you’re not into a story within the first half hour, give up! Don’t try to force it and sour their love for listening books.
- Some kids listen better when they have something to fidget with and keep their hands busy; try a small pile of legos, some playdoh, or a coloring book.
- Some kids listen better when they have something in their mouth (preventing them from talking!), start an audiobook during snack time or meal time.
- Some kids listen better when they’re moving, turn the story on while they’re in a swing, scooter board, or jumping around on these things.
Where to get audiobooks for kids
It can be a little overwhelming considering options for audiobooks, but pick one and try it, then branch out for more options. If you’re looking for a specific story, you might have to check all of the different avenues before you find it!
Library – electronic
Call or visit your library and ask how they offer e-books and audiobooks! Most libraries use Overdrive and/or Hoopla, both easy to navigate apps where you temporarily download the audiobooks and play them.
Library – CDs
Libraries also have old fashioned tangible disks, again, ask for help! I have visited several libraries and they usually separate out picture book sets, kids, young adult, and adult audiobooks from each other so make sure you aren’t missing options! Also ask about interlibrary loans, where your library can borrow audiobook sets from other areas of your state for free.
Online – CDs
You can buy CD audiobooks off Amazon and Ebay!
Amazon’s streaming service is easy to use but a little confusing to start; you buy an Audible membership (and start with 2 freebies if you’re brand new!) and then get a set amount of credits to use. You can cancel at any time and keep the books you’ve bought; active subscriptions also get to select a freebie or two each month from a preset selection that often has a kids book in the mix. You can download the 2 freebies and cancel the subscription right after, if you are tight on money! We have a year subscription and love it, but just as a heads up. You also can exchange titles if you decide you don’t like it half way through.
I’m new to this service, but as far as I can tell it works like Audible but supports indie shops instead, check it out here.
A paid service that creates an animated picture book with narration, great for engaging young readers, find it here.
A curated selection of news materials and books geared at teachers, this is a paid monthly service that includes audiobooks as well as e-books, find it here.
I know there are loads of podcast options out for kids, but I’m listing the ones that are based off stories! The top two are my kids’ personal favorites.
- Story Pirates – Actors take stories submitted by kids and act them out energetically.
- The Alien Adentures of Finn Caspian – An episodic, long running sci-fi story.
- Sparkle Stories – Short, sweet stories, with weekly podcast freebies and a larger pay-wall library if your kids get hooked.
- Storynory– Super short, original stand alone stories.
- Barefoot Books – Short stories with a global focus.
- Stories– One-off, short stories that appear to be original.
- Circle Round– Adapted folktales performed by a variety of well known actors.
Audiobook suggestions for kids
I’m linking to the Audible version of all of these, in some instances there is also an audio CD you can purchase. Price match against Ebay for used copies too!
We haven’t listened to all of these but most of them, with the others on our “to listen” list! I listed them with an age range of 3-9 in mind but please click through and read reviews (you can also check Common Sense Media, with a grain of salt) before deciding if the content is right for your family.
First audiobooks to try:
- Llama llama series
- Dr. Seuss books
- Disney stories
- I’m just no good at rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Adults
- Frog and Toad
- Magic School Bus
Another great first audiobook option is these short books with accompanying CDs! There are a ton of them, they’re affordable, and you can find them both in person at Barnes & Nobles or online (links for Star Wars – Cars/Nemo/Toy Story – Toy Story 4 – Belle/Ariel/Cinderella).
Popular, modern audiobooks to try:
Series audiobooks to try:
- Boxcar Children
- Geronimo Stilton series
- How to train your dragon
- Magic Tree House
- The Penderwicks
- All-of-a-kind family
- Harry Potter
- A to Z Mysteries
- The Secrets of Droon
Classic audiobooks to try:
- A Secret Garden
- Mary Poppins
- Pippi Longstocking
- Treasure Island
- The Wind in the Willows
- Alice in Wonderland
- Misty of Chincoteague
- Swiss Family Robinson
- Charlotte’s Web
- Wizard of Oz
Pin this list of audiobooks with kids: tips for getting started with this link or image: