In the last few years, audio books have exploded in popularity amongst adult readers. They’re especially popular with people who have little time to sit down and read, allowing busy book lovers to enjoy books while commuting, exercising, or otherwise multitasking. But what about kids? Sure, listening to audio books can be a good activity for car rides and holiday travel, but is there any real educational benefit for children, or do audio books not count as real reading?
Here are our suggestions for great audiobooks for kids – split up by age. I have known children (and adults) who had a hard time reading but were able to find a love for books through audiobooks. So whether you are looking to inspire a young mind or find something other than a tablet to entertain your child in the car, you are sure to find something here that they will enjoy.
Part 1. The Best Audiobooks for Kids
- Fox in Socks
- Green Eggs and Ham
- The Ugly Duckling
- Where the Wild Things Are
- The Snowy Day
- llama llama red pajama
- A Bear Called Paddington
- The Three Little Pigs
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Alice in Wonderland
- Disney Children’s Favorites
- The Little Prince
- Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson
- The Mouse and the Motorcycle
- James and the Giant Peach
- Disney Princess Storybook Collection
- The Peter Rabbit Collection
- Pippi Longstocking
- Disney Junior Storybook Collection
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- A Series of Unfortunate Events
- The Boxcar Children Series
- Black Beauty
- Anne of Green Gables
- Tuck Everlasting
- The Secret Garden
- The Little House (on the Prairie) Series
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Harry Potter 1 – 7
- The Hatchet
- Enders Game Series
- Johnny Tremain
- Call of the Wild
- Where the Red Fern Grows
- My Side of the Mountain
- Indian in the Cupboard
- Divergent Series
- The Hunger Games Series
- Lord of the Flies
- The Giver
- Maze Runner Series
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
- The Count of Monte Cristo
- Brave New World
- The Outsiders
Part 2. Where to Find Free Audio Books for Kids
While sites like Audible are popular and provide thousands of titles for adults and children, the cost of purchasing books and membership fees can add up. Luckily, there are thousands of free audio books available for readers of all ages if you know where to look. Here are six of the best sources, some of which offer books for all readers, and some tailored just for kids.
Much like Project Gutenberg, our favorite source for free ebooks, Librivox books are from the public domain, and read by volunteers. Books are available to stream online or download. Some of the books include an entire cast, acting out dramatizations, while others feature a single reader. The catalog includes a large collection of children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, including a number of classics that are also found on the K12 recommended reading list for kindergarten-12th grade students. Some of these include:
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Kidnapped, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, Pride and Prejudice, and Frankenstein.
You or your kids might use this popular streaming service to listen to music, but did you know they also offer audio books? You’ll need a free (or paid) account to listen, but if you don’t mind hearing a few ads now and then, you’ll be able to stream (but not download) audio books for free.
The best thing about Spotify’s selection is the opportunity to hear literature read by the authors themselves. The “Poetry: In Their Own Voices” collection includes poets such as Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Milay, e e cummings, Dylan Thomas, Langston Hughes, and many others, reading their own work.
There are also books read by great actors, including Sherlock Holmes read by Sir John Gielguld, as well as classics from Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and categories like Russian Lit and literature from women authors, and fairy tales for kids.
To find audio books on Spotify, go to the browse menu in the Spotify application, click on “Genres and Moods” then scroll down to click on “Word.”
3. Loyal Books
Another online database for free audio book and ebook downloads, this site is easy to navigate and books are available in a variety of different formats and languages. Head to the children’s genre for classics like The Wind in the Willows, A Little Princess, and The Wizard of Oz.
A British site, Storynory features free downloadable and streaming stories for children, including classics from Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, and Oscar Wilde, as well as myths, fairy tales, and original stories. This site is a particularly good option for young children, and students in elementary and middle school.
Sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Storyline Online isn’t strictly an audio book service. Instead, the site features videos of actors reading popular picture books. For young children who might miss the pictures in an audio book, this site offers some good options. Each book also includes a free accompanying activity guide to engage children in learning about the story, both online and offline. Check out Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog, James Earl Jones reading To Be a Drum, and Ernest Borgnine reading The Rainbow Fish.
Do you and your kids enjoy listening to audio books? What are your favorites to listen to? Tell us in the comments!