Audiobooks are one of my best mom tools! Check out this list of my kids’ favorites, and some of the best audiobooks for kids.
Let’s chat about the best audiobooks for kids
Audiobooks are one of my secret weapons. They’re a game changer for car rides, quiet time, and also teaching your children to listen to stories, understand story lines, and increase their vocabularies. There are so many benefits! So here are some of the best audiobooks for kids — the ones my kids love and listen to over and over.
Tips for Getting Started with Audiobooks
But first, let’s chat about how to get your child started with audiobooks.
I think the most important thing to realize about audiobooks is that listening is a learned skill. Your kids weren’t born with this skill, and they won’t be good at it right away, which can become a frustration for both of you. Try these three tips to help you get started (my sister, Janssen, shared some other tips here).
1. Start with books they know. When I introduced Fos to audiobooks when he was almost four years old, we started with his very favorite series, Mercy Watson. We had read the hard copy versions of these books dozens of times, so he knew the stories backward and forward, which meant it was really easy for him to listen and follow along when we turned on the audiobooks.
After listening to these audiobooks a few times, we moved on to another set he was familiar with, and after a few weeks of this, he had become really good at listening and we started introducing unfamiliar titles. Also, I recommend starting with book series so they can become more invested in and familiar with the characters, locations, and narrator as you listen to book after book.
2. Listen to them in the car. When we moved in 2017, we commuted thirty minutes down to our old school for six weeks until we moved the boys to a new school at Christmas break.
During these six weeks, we spent a lot of time in the car. I stocked up on audiobooks and we went through tons of them during that commute, and they were the perfect way to enjoyably pass the time while they were strapped into their carseats.
If you’re taking a road trip during the summer, start audiobooks there when your kids can’t wander away and miss big sections of the story. It was during these commutes that we fell in love with the How To Train Your Dragon Books, because we could listen to large sections of the CD’s at a time and really get immersed in the story.
3. Quit if you don’t like it. This probably the most important tip I can think of.
I want reading to be enjoyable and fun for my boys, especially at this age, and never want to force them to sit down and listen to anything, whether it’s an audiobook or not. They’ll have so many books they’ll be required to read in their future, so right now is all about cultivating a love of reading (and hoping it carries them throughout their life), and the way to do that is to choose books with which they can connect and fall in love.
I love when they beg for just another chapter, or we have to sit in the car for five minutes after school pick up so we can listen to the end of the story — that’s how you know you’ve picked a good one. So if you choose an audiobook that they can’t get into, or that’s boring, confusing, or bad for any reason, just turn it off (after you’ve made at least some effort). It’s definitely not worth it.
*Also I should note that when we’re listening to them together, I’ll often pause the CD and explain something or ask them a question to make sure they understand. Audiobooks can move quickly, have big words, and sometimes even have complex stories, so it’s easy for kids (especially a 4 year old!) to miss things. Chatting through it has helped Foster’s comprehension immensely, and he gets better at listening and understanding with every book. But remember, in the beginning they won’t understand everything, and that’s ok!
Where to Find Good Audiobooks
I’ve had lots of questions about how we find audiobooks and listen to them. Here are a few ways you can do it!
- CD’s at the library. We bought an old school CD player on Amazon and put one in Sanny’s room and one in the playroom. Our library has a huge collection of audiobooks on CD, so we check those out and play them at home. This is a great solution for kids, especially in quiet time, because you don’t have to rely on a kindle or iPad that they may be tempted to use for something else while you’re not in the room.
- Audible. I have an Audible Premium Plus membership — I don’t use it for my kids (I probably should – I just don’t think of it), but it’s a great system! It’s a monthly membership through Amazon and gives you access to a humongous digital library. You can see the membership options here.
- Overdrive.com. I’ve had the most questions about this, because this is what I use to listen to audiobooks on my phone. It’s an online system that’s connected to your library so you can request and check out books for free. If you download the app and sign in with your library card, you can do everything directly from the app: place a hold, search for books, or just listen. When you want to listen to a book you’ve checked out, go into the app and select “Download” so it saves to your phone and you can listen anywhere without using your phone data. After we do this, we plug the phone into the car audio system so we can listen to it while we drive, or I’ll let the boys hold my phone and listen to it while we’re out running errands. It’s a really convenient way to carry your digital library with you. Overdrive has a limit of 10 holds/checkouts at time.
- Hoopladigital.com. This is another digital library that connects through local libraries. Search on their site to find if your local library uses this system — some libraries will have both Overdrive and Hoopla. The best part about this system is that there is no wait for books. All digital books are available immediately!
- Amazon. I buy them a new audiobook or two for Christmas or birthdays – Amazon has a big collection of audiobook CDs too.
My boys’ current favorite audiobooks
- Winnie the Pooh Collection – You cannot go wrong with Winnie the Pooh.
- Paddington Bear – the sweetest stories!
- Disney Collection Stories – this has several volumes and is a fun way to introduce the Disney classics to your kids.
- Flat Stanley – my 5 year old is very into these stories right now!
- Magic Tree House – our library has lots of these and my 5 year old is loving them
- A to Z Mysteries – these are fun and quick stories that all my boys love
- Beverly Cleary Books – Henry Huggins is one of our favorites, but they’re all great!
- Frog and Toad – one of my favorites from when I was little
- Arnold Lobel Collection – these are such fun stories
- Little Bear – super sweet stories for little kids
- Mrs. Piggle Wiggle – my kids all loved these fun and silly stories!
- Nate the Great – great stories for all ages about this boy detective
- Dragon Rider Series – we listened to this as a family and they’re very fun. Great for slightly older kids.
- Harry Potter – It doesn’t get better than Jim Dale as the narrator
- Charlie Bone – another family favorite, and is great for slightly older kids
- Boxcar Children – the original boxcar children books are fantastic (it’s the first 19). Sweet stories and good morals and messages.
- Mercy Watson – These are laugh out loud funny, quick reads. These are great for ages 3+
- Wayside Stories – super funny books about a crazy school. My boys all loved these.
- How to Train Your Dragon – my favorite series, amazing narrator, and fun for the whole family
- Roald Dahl – James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Fantastic Mr. Fox are three of our favorite.
My sister has four girls and she shared some of her favorite girl titles RIGHT HERE.