I’ve been reading to my sons since before they were born. We read pretty much every night even when we’re tired or it’s late, or son number two picks a book we’ve read over and over again already. The power in reading aloud is that kids get to hear what a fluent reader sounds like. They get to soak up stories way before they can read them on their own. After reading countless Thomas the Train books, we discovered that the library had some Thomas the Train books that came with CDs. We were ecstatic! My husband said, “Why didn’t we know about this earlier?” If you’ve ever read a Thomas the Train book, they usually have three stories in them and lots of words. Like paragraphs of words.
Most of the time we still read aloud to our kids but we like to change it up every once in a while and listen to an audiobook. Our library has a whole audiobook section where the books comes with CDs in zippered bags. We’ve also found that bookstores have books of our favorite Disney movies that come with a CD. Our kids love to hold the book and turn the page when the chime rings and it’s a great opportunity for them to practice their listening skills.
Any time we check out audiobooks from the library, my kids usually beg me to put the CD in as soon as we get into the car. But lately we’ve discovered digital options for checking out audiobooks and I’m in love! Both Hoopla and Audible are options for listening to audiobooks directly from your device. We usually listen on my laptop but sometimes listen from the app on my phone.
Hoopla is a digital media service that you can access through your local library. I easily added the app to my phone and created an account. Now I can log in on my phone or laptop and search for books I want to check out. I can check out up to 10 items per month and they are stored on my phone until they are automatically returned. They have options for ebooks, movies, music, and audiobooks. They have a children’s section and a teen section with lots of options in various genres within each.
They have audiobooks like Pete the Cat and several Mo Willems titles, as well as chapter books. One of my all-time favorite audiobooks for kids is Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk. It’s super silly and fun and full of hysterical characters with unique voices. I love that they have a range of books, from picture books to novels, and that my kids can browse and choose books right from home. The books download quickly and you can pick up right where you left off. And it’s free with a library card!
I have a friend who loves her Audible subscription. Audible is an audiobook division of Amazon that allows you to buy audiobooks with your Amazon account. You can get a 30-day free trial and Prime members might have the option of a 90-day free trial. The difference between Audible and Hoopla is that you pay for credits that you can use towards buying audiobooks. Because you buy the audiobooks they are stored in your account and you can access them at any time. Most of the time buying an audiobook via Audible is cheaper than buying the physical version of the audiobook.
Audible also has a range of options for children’s and young adult literature. I was so excited to find The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection by Beverly Cleary. I love all the amazing options for kids right now, but I wanted to make sure my nine-year-old got to read Ramona’s adventures. I chose to buy Cleary’s stories via Audible because there are almost 20 hours of audio to listen to and I knew we would probably need more than a month to get through all the stories. They have other Beverly Clearly collections and also Roald Dahl’s books, among others.
One more option for free audiobooks for teens is Sync from AudioFile. It’s a free summer program for teens ages 13 and older. From May 5th – August 17th, 2016, Sync offers 30 titles to download each week. The books are offered in pairs and they are specifically chosen to coordinate with each other.
When I commuted almost an hour to and from work every day, I became a fan of audiobooks. It’s such a great experience to listen to a wonderful narrator read a book aloud. It can be fun for both kids and parents alike. The best part is that kids are still getting the benefit of hearing a fluent reader and getting to listen to great stories whether you are snuggled up at home or on the go.
Does your family enjoy audiobooks? Tell us what your favorite ones are in the comments section below.