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.
My kids and I have been listening to audio books for just over a year (they are 4 and 2) and I think the biggest tip is to pick books of series that are engaging for yourself as well. If you are paying attention, they are paying attention. We have loved Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Eragon, Percy Jackson and the Olympians and so much more. We are currently in the middle of the How yo train your Dragon series as well.
YES! That was the biggest help for us on our commute — I adored the Dragon books so the commute was super enjoyable for me. We’ll be moving on to those you listed in the next year or so as my boys get a little older — so many good ones, can’t wait! xx
We LOVE Audible! I don’t use it as often with my kids, but I have a long commute and find that it helps to pass the time. I do a two book per month subscription and it’s $22 (many books would cost that on their own, so the more you get, the cheaper they are per book). In case it’s the deciding factor — you actually don’t check them back in. You are buying the books, so you can add them back to your device and listen again in the future!
Oh good to know! Thanks for the info! xx
What age do you think is ok to start?
I think it totally depends on the child. But I think children even as young as two are able to sit through shorter books, even if they don’t comprehend everything. It’s great practice at sitting still and learning to listen. Also I’ve found that kids can listen (either audiobooks or reading aloud) to books much higher than their actual reading level (especially if you’re there to help explain more complex words and concepts). It’s incredibly helpful in expanding their vocabulary and teaching them to speak in more complex sentences at an early age. Just pick an audiobook that’s close to their level and gauge their interest as you listen, and adjust from there. Good luck!
Oh, but I should mention (and I think I did in the post above), we started doing independent listening around age 4. That’s probably the best age to start. But in the car, they can listen even as young as 2!
Check out Tumblebooks for younger listeners, there is a website and an app and I use that for my younger readers. It is provided by our library system and has tons of picture books that the child can have read to them while watching the pictures. It is awesome. Thanks so much for the post, love these ideas and I’m totally starting this summer.
Thanks for the tip about Tumblebooks! Good luck starting this with audiobooks this summer! xx
I’m not sure if they are too young for Harry Potter, but the narrator is INCREDIBLE. I have listened to them over and over and over again! Totally recommend them at some point!!
As they get older, The Hobbit and Eragon are good if they like fantasy stories with wizards, dragons, and well…hobbits! I’ve listened to both and they are very good. Narrators can make all the difference in an audiobook – Jim Dale and Rob Inglis are excellent.
These are all awesome tips! I’m excited to try them with my four year old little guy and your book recommendations!
I listen to audiobooks myself never thought to try for my kids! Great idea! Just hope I can find something they can agree on! Being boys and girls and their age gaps. Maybe How to Train your Dragon or Harry Potter or something like that! I’m so happy you posted this! Thank you!
Thanks Merrick for all the audiobook suggestions, my kids and I are discovering new favorites, it has been wonderful to keep up our “book” time this summer!
[…] of my favorite style + lifestyle bloggers discussed using audio books with her kids to improve listening skills. It’s better than […]
[…] have a whole post about tips for getting your kids to enjoy listening to audiobooks, plus a few favorite titles. Right now Sanny is listening to the FROG AND TOAD COLLECTION on repeat […]
HAVE You tried “the little house on the PRAIRIE” series (by laura Ingles wilder)? My three boys are obsessed! I wasNt sure they would like it because the main cHaracters are two little girls, but they are so intrigued! Its read by cherry jones and she does a faNtastic job of telling the story. My oldest loves “farmer boy”
My 7year old kid really into listening to audiobooks, he much likes it rather than reading its book. Indeed I agree, the narrator gives Thank more Life and thrill in the story that might be the other reason why the kids love audiobooks. Thank you! I got a new list for my little one. More power for your blog!
I think this is a great alternative to TV like http://tv.hobbang.net/, near which children so often like to spend time. I think that audio books can be a great solution to get him something useful.
Thank you very much for your list. Now I have two problems, to teach the younger one to read books and to wean the older one from the services that he found here. It is important that children are independent and do not look for easy ways.
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A-Z Mysteries are fun too!