I discovered a little trick to help us have a happier more educational summer.
It has replaced hand-held tech during “boring” summer vacation car rides. Quieted sibling squabbles during long afternoons playing indoors. It has integrated summer learning into backyard sandbox play. And calmed busy minds before bedtime on too-busy summer days.
My little trick? AUDIOBOOKS!
We recently signed up for (B-Inspired Mama sponsor) Audible so I can download and play kids’ chapter books right through my smartphone. I’ve honestly been surprised at how much my kids love it.
(Psst… Give Audible a try, too, by downloading a book of your choice with this free 1-month trial!)
I’ve put together a list of the best audiobooks for kids, in case you’re up for some book listening with your kids this summer, too.
9 of the Best Audiobooks for Kids
First, in full disclosure, we have not listened to all of the following books. Some we have read in book form and loved. One we are listening to through Audible right now. And others are on our Audible wishlist based on good reviews on Amazon and/or recommendations from friends. Now, let’s get started…
Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
Publisher’s Summary: “August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school – until now. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? R. J. Palacio has crafted an uplifting novel full of wonderfully realistic family interactions, lively school scenes, and writing that shines with spare emotional power.”
We’re about halfway through this audiobook, and it’s already inspired some great conversations with my kids. And about meaty subjects, too – from visible and “invisible” differences and deformities to sibling relationships to their own experiences starting at a new school and making friends. I especially love how the story changes points of view from Auggie himself to his sister and then to a classmate. Definitely a must-listen!
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Publisher’s Summary: “A timeless classic. Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. The perfect audio companion, this Bolinda edition will capture the hearts of listeners of all ages. … A pilot stranded in the desert awakes one morning to see, standing before him, the most extraordinary little fellow. “Please,” asks the stranger, “draw me a sheep.” And the pilot realizes that when life’s events are too difficult to understand, there is no choice but to succumb to their mysteries. He pulls out pencil and paper… And thus begins this wise and enchanting fable that, in teaching the secret of what is really important in life, has changed forever the world for its readers.” (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing
Here’s a classic I’ve never read. But with that storyline, covering such big ideas, I know it’ll be a great listen for me and my kids.
The BFG, by Roald Dahl
Publisher’s Summary: “The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants – rather than the BFG – she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!” ©1982 Roald Dahl (P)2013 Penguin Audio
I remember loving everything from Roald Dahl as a kid. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Nesbit, read this one to us as we sat cross-legged on the carpet at her feet. I can’t wait to share the colorful characters and creative language with my kids. (And then watch the movie coming out soon that’s based on it!)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
Publisher’s Summary: “Narnia…the land beyond the wardrobe door, a secret place frozen in eternal winter, a magical country waiting to be set free. Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old house. At first her brothers and sister don’t believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. When they meet the Lion Aslan, they realize they’ve been called to a great adventure and bravely join the battle to free Narnia from the Witch’s sinister spell.” ©1950, 1978 C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd; (P)2000 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
I feel sort of embarrassed to admit that I have never read this childhood classic. The kids have watched the movie version with Cliff, but I have to believe such a magical story would be so much better in audiobook form.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, by The Brothers Grimm
Publisher’s Summary: “The Brothers Grimm collected the original fairy tales that Americans are most familiar with today. Lyrically translated and beautifully narrated by an all-star cast, these 21 tales are selected from The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales and presented just as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm originally set them down: bold, primal, just frightening enough, and endlessly engaging.” Public Domain (P)2016 Listening Library
Okay, so this one isn’t a chapter book, but classic fairy tales are a must-listen for every child, I think. Check out the Audible listing for the complete list of Fairy Tales included. There’s even a few I’ve never heard!
Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo
Publisher’s Summary: “Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry – and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.” ©2013 Kate DiCamillo (P)2013 Listening Library
A strong female lead character. And a squirrel. With superpowers. Enough said.
Magic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8, by Mary Pope Osborne
Publisher’s Summary: “This audio collection includes the first eight stories from The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne; Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, Pirates Past Noon, Night of the Ninjas, Afternoon on the Amazon, Sunset of the Sabertooth, and Midnight on the Moon. Join Jack and Annie in adventures in time and space!” ©2001 Mary Pope Osborne (P)2011 Listening Library
My kids loved following the treehouse adventures of siblings Jack and Annie when we were homeschooling. And Priscilla’s first-grade class read some Magic Tree House books during their tree learning expedition this year. I love how each story integrates history, geography, and science in such a fun and magical way.
The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall
Publisher’s Summary: “This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will, won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget. Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.” ©2005 Jeanne Birdsall; (P) Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group
This one just seems like the perfect summer listen, doesn’t it? And with being a National Book Award Winner and an Audible Bestseller, you can’t go wrong.
The Extincts, by Veronica Cossanteli
Publisher’s Summary: “George loves to help out at hidden Wormestall Farm, even though it’s full of ‘extinctly’ scary creatures, like the dodo in the dog bed and the dinosaurs in the duck pond. When Mortifer the giant basilisk goes missing, it’s up to George to find him before wicked taxidermist Diamond Pye can add to her stuffed animal collection….” ©2013 Veronica Cossanteli (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
We just finished reading this one aloud last month (just before we discovered Audible), and my kids would beg me to “Read more. Read more!” every time I tried to put the book down. The mythical creatures and crazy adventures were hard to resist.
More About Audible:
Audible, Inc., an Amazon.com, Inc. subsidiary, is currently the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio entertainment. In its own words, Audible was created to “unleash the emotive music in language and the habituating power and utility of verbal expression.” So listening to kids’ chapter books via Audible is a great way for kids to experience the power of verbal expression, learn rich vocabulary, and even develop language skills.
And you’re sure to find the perfect audiobook for any child since Audible is a leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. And the narration is top-notch – with acclaimed performers like Emma Thompson, Dan Stevens, James Franco, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet and Tim Robbins, recently narrating works of literature for Audible. In fact, Audible Studios has won both a Grammy Award and an Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year over the past few years.
So choose an audiobook above, and get it FOR FREE with a free 1-month trial of Audible! Then come back and tell me what you thought. Or let me know what kids’ chapter book I missed on the list in the comments below.
More Summer Learning Inspiration:
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.