Audiobooks for Young Children
My kids are 5 and 2 right now. My daughter is just about to start Kindergarten, and she’s not reading on her own yet but she memorizes books and “reads” them to her brother. I can’t remember which one of us started it, but my husband and I both play them audiobooks in the car for their commute to and from day care. I would never have thought that a 2 year old would really comprehend much from an audiobook, but he does! It’s surprising how much they both retain, and what their preferences are. I’m sure there are educational benefits for children, but mostly this is just a good way to stay sane in the car.
For the record, my kids are pretty sensitive about scary things. Like, the 5 year old won’t even watch Frozen or Moana. The most adventuresome books, like Harry Potter, I have to assure them that nothing bad happens to the protagonist. Some of these books have movies that were fun to watch (e.g. Fantastic Mr Fox), others have movie versions that are way too scary (e.g. The BFG, Harry Potter, Matilda). Here is a list of audiobooks that they have enjoyed over the past year or so.
- All of Roald Dahl’s children’s books, including Going Solo, his memoir of his World War II exploits. My favorite was Fantastic Mr Fox, read by Chris O’Dowd. They listened to these in B’s car and every day came home and told me about what was going on. Full list: James and the Giant Peach, Boy, Danny the Champion of the World, George’s Marvelous Medicine, The Twits, the Minpins, The Magic Finger, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Going Solo, and The BFG.
- The The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, read by Anne Hathaway. Wow, that was a lot different than the movie!
- Pippi Longstocking, one of my childhood favorites, stood the test of time. This is a short one! Only 2.5 hours long.
- Little House on the Prairie series. They are listening to this in B’s car, which is good because I listened to the sample and the narrator grated on my nerves. They are also watching some episodes on TV, which is fun. Hopefully they appreciate the bounty of the grocery store more now.
- A Wrinkle in Time. Another of my childhood favorites. I’m sure the kids did not grasp the themes in this book but they did like the characters. Like music, sometimes the best thing is finding something I want to listen to that the kids think is for them. So, this is the They Might be Giants of audiobooks.
- The Percy Jackson and the Olympians trilogy was surprisingly well-received, I think we read it when Jaybird was 4. Again it was something I enjoyed listening to and the kids mostly just tolerated it, though Jaybird did follow some of the story.
- The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. This is kind of a timeless story, I was surprised at how recently it was written. It’s about 4 girls and their dad staying at a summer cottage, and their adventures with new friends (a boy is one of their new friends, so this would appeal to boys and girls, not that I think there are limits on that).
- The Boxcar Children. The kids loved this, I put up with it because it was short (2 hours). Too cutesy for me.
- The Neverending Story. One they listened to in B’s car and I think they even watched the movie.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
- And the pain and the pleasure of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Book 1, read by Jim Dale. I am a huge Harry Potter fan and I love JK Rowling but Jim Dale’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me. The Stephen Fry reading is SO MUCH BETTER. I don’t know what rumors to believe about their beef with each other, but I want it all to end so I can have Stephen Fry’s dulcet tones rather than Jim Dale’s whining. /rant I am listening to the Jim Dale version with the kids and getting through ok but mentally cringing every time he whines. We definitely will not proceed with the series at this point because it gets dark pretty quickly, but I look forward to indoctrinating them completely into all things Harry Potter.
And a few failures, for the record.
- Ramona the Pest annoyed my husband, he said Ramona is too dumb to be believable. The kids liked it though.
- The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, one of my favorite authors! I loved it but the humor was a little advanced for this age. Worth trying again in a few years.
- Cujo, not a hit for some reason. KIDDING, kidding.
Here is what’s on our to-read list.
- The Tale of Despereaux.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia. One of my childhood favorites. I’m a little concerned because the sound quality on the audible sample is not so good.
- My Father’s Dragon was recommended as a good early chapter book by my local bookstore, and it looks pretty great.
What books do you recommend for young kids? Or for early elementary kids?
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