We were at the library a few months ago when my older daughter noticed a wall lined with audio books. “What are those?” she asked, wondering why the DVDs were in weird cases and not with the rest of the movies. When I explained them to her, she was immediately intrigued and picked out one to listen to in the car.
Believe it or not, I had never listened to a book on tape before that. Lots of the ladies in our virtual book club are borderline obsessed with them (sort of like me with podcasts), but I was still an audio virgin.
At first, I wasn’t so sure how Ellie would feel about audio books. She’s still in preschool and the books we began picking were all chapter books (I only had one rule: nothing that would scare her. Sorry Harry Potter). I wasn’t sure how she would feel about the lack of pictures or if they would hold her interest at all.
Let me tell you. Girlfriend is hooked.
We drove down to Long Island this weekend and the hour and a half long car ride was almost completely silent because the girls were so into the story (if you know us, this is no small feat). In fact, Ellie was exhausted but didn’t want to miss anything so she stayed awake. I had to ban the book for the ride home to make sure she slept.
As you can imagine, we’ve had some hits and misses when it comes to audio books for kids. As much as adults can’t handle narrators with weird voices, kids are even less able to get passed a voice they don’t like. There have been many an aborted attempt. But there have also been a bunch that we really, really enjoyed.
Our five favorite audio books for kids:
We’re currently in the middle of Judy Bloom’s Fudge series. These are perfect for most age groups. Ellie giggles hysterically at the Hatcher family’s crazy antics, Sam becomes obsessed with reading ahead, and I love that these books are just as enjoyable now as they were when I read them however many years ago.
An added bonus is that Judy Blume reads them herself. Samantha loves the fact that she gets to hear the books exactly the way the author intended them to be read.
Another good one with lots of crazy hijinks is Flora & Ulysses. Samantha absolutely loved this story when we read the book, so when she saw the book on tape she jumped at it. Some of the story and the language was a little over Ellie’s head, but she understood it enough to laugh like crazy at the appropriate points and learned some new vocabulary along the way.
Much more her speed is the Judy Moody series (and the books about Judy’s brother, Stink). Also very silly and with lots of sibling drama, I enjoy these stories just as much as the girls do.
Judy is a feisty girl who isn’t a typical protagonist—which is something I totally love. She’s moody and stubborn and thinks outside the box. She has wild hair and dresses however she pleases. Everything about her is a refreshing change from what is normally targeted at young girls.
Samantha absolutely loved the Junie B. Jones series when she started getting into chapter books—and to be honest, I was a little sad when she moved on from them because they got a little too easy.
Like Judy Moody, Junie B. Jones is a different kind of protagonist. Bossy and opinionated, she always stands up for what she believes in—whether it gets her into trouble or not. The narrator has a great, child-like voice too.
Last but not least, we have to add The Sisters Grimm to the list. Sam tore through these books once she found them at the library, so we had to test out the audio book. It was a little tough for Ellie (especially because of the narrator’s British accent), but I was as totally into it as Samantha. This one is perfect for tweens!
Aside from being great for kids who already love reading (or being read to), audio books are a pretty great tool for trying to lure reluctant readers into the magical world of children’s literature. Whether you encourage them to read along, or they find a story that really captivates them and proves that reading isn’t boring, audio books are great for encouraging a lifelong love of reading.
Do you listen to audio books with your kids? If you have a favorite that I didn’t mention, please let me know in the comments! We’re always looking for more!
PS have you gotten my free printable of must-read children’s books?