Children’s books in audio form – online stories or CDs or MP3 files are a great way for children to experience books and stories in a different format. Reading is a multi-sensory experience – vision, touch, hearing and even smell (but probably not taste!) are all employed when a child experiences a children’s book or story. This post is an update of a post I did nearly two years ago now. It contains some extra links to audio books I have discovered in this time. With Christmas holidays not too far away (okay I’m a LITTLE early!), I am plannning some audio stories for the annual drive to Brunswick Heads – where we will be reading mermaid books and wearing mermaid tails again no doubt!
Why Audio Children’s Books?
The Beauty of Words
For a child who is learning to read, a children’s book reading can be a very stilted,stop and start experience as they sound out words, ask for help, question what a full stop is, and have a teacher or parent interrupt to ask about meaning. One of the beautiful things about reading is the flow and rhythm of words. Bedtime reading by an adult is a lovely time for a child to hear the beauty of words. Audio children’s books read by an accomplished actor or storyteller provide a great opportunity to hear a different voice and style of reading.
The Skill of Listening
How many parents and teachers despair over the child who will not listen! Audio children’s books are an excellent way to practice the skill of listening. The younger child might start with only being able to sit through rhymes or short stories; as their listening improves whole children’s chapter books can be a wonderful experience. If the story grabs the attention of the child they can become lost in the story and will happily close their eyes, imagine the images in their head and listen as the story takes shape.
Images in the Mind
Many audio children’s books are just that…an auditory experience without the visual of a books words and illustrations. Children are encouraged to conjure up images in their imagination. There are some fabulous children’s relaxation and visualisation audio stories which you can read more about these here. I particularly love the series by Maureen Garth, which includes Starbright, Earthlight and Moonbeam. I have used her books and CDs in classrooms to calm down sweaty, tired children after lunchtime and with Pudstar at night on her CD player . You can record the stories yourself so they are in your calming (?!) voice, or the CDs are sometimes available at the ABC shop.
Following Along with Text
Audio children’s books can also be used with the text of the story. Schools use listening posts, where multiple children can listen to the audio story at once, and follow the text in their readers. The same technique can be employed at home…with a child following the words with their finger while the audio story is read. Many audio stories have a bell or chime sound when the child is to turn the page. For the child learning to read this is a great experience…seeing the shape of the word and hearing the sound of the word simultaneously.
See my post ‘Top Ten Reasons to Enjoy Audio Books’ for more on this topic.
Where to Find Audio Children’s Books?
There are a number of websites which provide audio children’s books to download or purchase.
‘Storynory’ is a well-known and respected free online children’s audio stories site. Storynory use professional actors and storytellers to narrate their stories and are all accompanied by a full English text on the website. Stories are free, and easy to download.
Another great website (thanks Natalie for the tip!) is ‘Books Should be Free’. It has free public domain audio books and e books which can be downloaded to iPhones, Androids, Kindles and mp3 players.
PudStars favourite audio children’s book for many years now has been the Olivia the Pig series read by Dame Edna Everage. You could not get a funnier audio children’s book! Dame Edna does a brilliant job as narrator! PudStar listens to this endlessly in the car, with and without the print version of the book to follow. She often puts on her Dame Edna voice and recites a passage of the story when she is feeling dramatic…which is often.
And then how can you go past Winnie the Pooh read by Stephen Fry and Dame Judi Dench?!
For older readers I would recommend audio of ‘The Rangers Apprentice’ series, The ‘Chaos Walking’ series, the ‘Deltora Quest’ series, the ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’ series and ‘The City of Ashes’ series all of which can be found by browsing through here.
Some audio stories we have loved in the past little while are listed below. Click on the covers to purchase.