Books are a wonderful thing – they open a whole world of creativity, excitement, humour, wonder and enjoyment for us all. Encouraging a love of books in our children is also a wonderful thing – whether we read to them, they read themselves, or they listen to audio books. You might be surprised to know that listening to audio books can actually help improve your child’s literacy. Read on for our list of the best audio books for kids.
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Reading to your child is a great way to inspire their enthusiasm for reading, and in the same way, audio books allow your child to enjoy great stories while also developing their language skills. The manner in which characters, accents, voices and humour are introduced and used as tools in audio books makes listening even more fun.
For children who struggle to read due to comprehension, concentration or literacy ability, it’s still important to be able to enjoy a great tale. Battling over each word while trying to read your way through a book can take the enjoyment out of the story. In contrast, sitting back to enjoy it is much more pleasurable. Audio books are also a great way for children to enjoy stories that would otherwise be above their reading level, and opens up a wealth of new vocabulary.
The time when audio books really come into their own, however, is on long car journeys or on holidays, when they are ideal for keeping the peace! In our case, having something to concentrate on helped distract my daughter from feeling car-sick. They are also incredibly convenient – pop in a CD or plug in your device, and you can continue the story at any time. So, what could you be listening to?
Audio Books for Babies and Toddlers
If you can bear any more snorting hilarity, there are plenty of Peppa Pig stories available on audio book so the cheekiest little pig can spend even more time with you! If you need something a little less maddening, opt for the ever-popular Mr Men series, Shirley Hughes’ timeless Alfie series, familiar nursery rhymes, or some classic Ladybird Tales.
Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson’s library of books are just as popular to listen to as they are to read, and the lyrical rhyming lends itself perfectly to audio books. We particularly love Zog and Room on the Broom, but of course The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child will always be firm favourites. Keep an eye out for some Gruffalo sing-along CDs too which are highly entertaining but be warned, they’re incredibly catchy!
Popular Fairy Tale Audio Books
The quirky and eccentric Aesop’s Fables offer many classic tales such as ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ and ‘The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs’. In the audio book recording, read by the inimitable Richard Briers, Jane Horrocks, Richard E Grant and others, 40 tales have been adapted for young children.
For an imaginative take on the traditional fairy tale, have a listen to The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, read by leading British actors, including Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, Joanna Lumley and Derek Jacobi – definitely one the whole family will enjoy.
Classic Audio Books for Kids
While the classic stories survive for a reason, in many cases the language can be a bit of a daunting read for young children. In contrast, audio books bring the words to life, and your child can sit back and enjoy some literary greats.
Top classic picks include:
- The Wind in the Willows
- Anything by Rudyard Kipling (particularly The Jungle Book and Just So Stories),
- Beatrix Potter’s animal tales
- The bumbling and loveable Winnie the Pooh
- Alice in Wonderland
- Anne of Green Gables
- The Railway Children
- Ballet Shoes and many more.
Revisit Your Childhood Through Audio Books
Introduce your child to your own childhood favourites! Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl top most bestselling literary lists, and the audio books of their work are no exception. Both authors created magical, memorable characters which have been hugely popular from generation to generation.
Similarly, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is a timeless story that all ages will enjoy, while the calamitous Worst Witch series and the hugely entertaining Dr Seuss are great for whiling away a car trip. My daughter loves listening to Pippi Longstocking and CS Lewis’ Narnia books, just like I did at her age, and we’ve just bought The Secret Garden and The Little Prince to enjoy on an upcoming trip.
Educational Audio Books for Kids
Full of foul facts and hilarious nonsense, the Horrible Histories series is incredibly popular and there are numerous audio book options. From Vicious Vikings and Rotten Romans to Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians, these bestselling audio books offer plenty of laugh-out-loud fun with an educational twist.
Does your child fancy learning a new language? Choose a language course from the highly reputable Collins series for lessons in French, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese and more. Taught through a mix of songs, rhymes, jokes and repetition, your child will learn the basics in a fun, interesting way.
Meditation and Bedtime Audio Books for Kids
Children’s yoga teacher Christine Kerr’s audio books draw on her Montessori teaching background to create a series of calming meditations. These are perfect before bed or for times when a little chilling out is needed. Each audio book is a compilation of story meditations with gentle music designed to promote better sleep, build self-esteem, encourage visualisation and relax your child.
For older kids and teenagers who can be easily consumed by anxiety, Rays of Calm is a great audio book, full of relaxation techniques and visualisations to help deal with stress.
Bestselling Audio Books for Kids
Your child will love to hear their favourite stories read aloud, and this can actually inspire them to read or re-read the books. Bestselling authors such as Jacqueline Wilson, David Walliams and Michael Morpurgo have a wide variety of tall tales to enjoy, and these are definitely ones you won’t mind listening to either.
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books are utterly engrossing for the whole family, while more recent favourites such as Daisy Meadow’s Rainbow Magic fairies or the comical Diary of a Wimpy Kid antics ensure there is something for all preferences.
Audio Books for Older Children
If your older child or teen is looking to become engrossed in a great story, there is a wealth of audio books to choose from. Particularly riveting trilogies worth looking at include Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games and the still-popular Twilight books. Terry Pratchett’s prolific books are sure to excite, while Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, Anthony Horowitz and Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant books are also incredibly popular.
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Where Can You Find Audio Books?
Check out your local library for a selection of audio books. Alternatively, bookstores and online retailers will have a wide variety of books on CD. If you would prefer an instant download option to use on devices, check out iTunes or Audible (available through Amazon) which offers a 30-day free trial and then a monthly subscription membership.
Do your kids listen to audio books? Comment below and tell us what they enjoy listening to – we would love to hear from you!