My kids love books. Sometimes that fact still shocks me, even though my primary parenting goal has always been to raise kids who love books. What they don’t love, however, is to sit still. This goes for in the house, at restaurants, in grocery carts, in the car, in bed, and on and on.
At some point, while venting to my mom friends about my oldest’s endless energy and inability to settle at bedtime, someone asked if I had tried audiobooks. Oh, duh. No, I hadn’t, but you can bet I took my behind to the library that same day and checked out the first audiobook series I could find: Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad. It was a hit.
Not only did my almost-4-year-old stay in his bed until he fell asleep (and fell asleep much quicker to boot!), the next day, he hopped in eagerly, ready to listen and relax. And it completely changed the way I parent.
Audiobooks are a regular part of our lives now. We listen to them daily – on drives to and from school, road trips, while eating breakfast or doing chores, during quiet playtime with Legos or blocks, or during art projects, like painting or drawing.
Because they’re still young, we tend to listen to the same favorites again and again, but I know as they continue to grow and expand their breadth of understating, our collection will grow – and I can’t wait to enter new worlds of stories with them.
If you’re new to the world of kids’ audiobooks, here are a few tips and a list of our favorites to get you started:
Check your library
Audiobooks, and books in general, can get expensive if you buy a lot of them (which I do) – so the library is always my first stop when I’m in the market for a new book, audio or otherwise. Our library’s children’s section has a ton of books on CD, and I’ve found this to be a great way to try out certain audiobooks before I spring for the Audible or iBooks version permanently. Many libraries also now offer audiobooks through streaming and downloading services, like cloudLibrary, Hoopla Digital, Libby, and OverDrive – all great ways to get listening for free.
Find a service that works for your family
Our first foray into audiobooks, after the library, was an app called Epic! that offers a children’s digital library of over 35,000 titles including audiobooks, learning videos, and e-books. Because I got this a few years ago, the monthly subscription price was very reasonable at $5 a month. It’s since gone up a few extra dollars, but seeing as how we use this app without fail every single day, I’m happy to support it.
Since then, we’ve added a few iBooks and Audible books and will be diving into Amazon’s Freetime (will report back!) soon too. Based on your family’s needs, play around with a few different options and see what works best for you.
Give your kids something to do
Let’s face it, it’s impractical to expect young kids to just sit silently and listen to an audiobook. While just listening works well in the car, I’ve found that it’s super helpful to have a quiet activity on hand when listening at home.
A few things that work for my kids while listening: following along in the paper version of the same book, doing puzzles, coloring or painting, building with Legos or Magnatiles, eating or snacking, and even cleaning up (putting away toys, sweeping, folding laundry).