Tuesday, July 5, 2016

66 Audio Stories for Little Kids

We are in the final throes of the school year and everyone is antsy. We are getting sick and tired of the time spent in the car. With no local preschool, we have to spend 30 minutes a day together commuting to Anna's school. And although they have minimal extracurricular activities, we still have Mikey's therapeutic interventions and Anna's ballet. Putting us in the car together for more hours than I like to admit.

The only way to keep us going is to have a great selection of audio books. I first thought of using audio books for big roadtrips - either buying some or making your own.  Now we have a lot more experience with audio stories and I wanted to give you a list of our favorites.

First, we all love the musicals that Jeff & Paige produced, all of which have won awards. Each of three albums tells a story of two kids who go on an outdoor adventure. On their adventure they learn about environmental science topics that range from entomology to ecology, outdoor safety to sustainability.

21st Century Energy Superheroes is arguably the album with the "hardest" science, in my opinion.
"21st Century Energy Superheroes" is an educational & solutions focused journey into climate change and energy conservation. The songs, woven together by a story, will keep the whole family captivated from start to finish! 
Get Outdoors has a bunch of great science songs that kids really "get" because they have as their topics bugs, birds, and other things that are easy to find outside.
A fun, science-based journey into nature! The songs & story combine to create a delightful nature musical for kids!

Mighty Wolf is the newest album and possibly offers the largest range of topics. Everything from mammals to insects to lightning is explored.
Ideal for little ones ages 3-8, Mighty Wolf is a music CD that is both educational and entertaining. Cheerful songs jubilantly performed by Jeff & Paige teach young children about insect migration, adaptations of arctic wildlife, lightning safety, ladybug ecology, spider anatomy, the Appalachian trail, and much more. Parents and caretakers will also enjoy these lilting, musical appreciations of the magnificent wonders of nature and science! Highly recommended. - James Cox, Midwest Book Review

Chapter Books
We spend a lot of time in the car and for safety's sake I don't want to spend a lot of time changing disks. Therefore, we look for books that might not seem appropriate for preschoolers. However, we are readers and have nice long attention spans for interesting stories. So we get to listen to long stories. The trouble with long stories is that they are written for older children. So the material is tricky. That is why I often look for advice form other parents about what they like to listen to with their young kids. However, there is also https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ that I use, too. It is a site that reviews the content of books. Whatever source you use for book ideas (including my list below), keep in mind your own children and their limits.

These are our favorites:
Toys Go Out
Three books, 7 hours. 
Lumphy the stuffed buffalo, Stingray the stuffed stingray, and Plastic the plastic thing have many wondrous adventures and learn all about the world. But will they ever discover what kind of toy Plastic truly is?

Pippi Longstocking
2.5 hours. The beloved story of a spunky young girl and her hilarious escapades.
Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a pet monkey named Mr. Nilsson. Whether Pippi’s scrubbing her floors, doing arithmetic, or stirring things up at a fancy tea party, her flair for the outrageous always seems to lead to another adventure.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Three books, 6 hours. Ralph is not like the other mice at the Mountain View Inn. He is always looking for adventure. It is Ralph's lucky day when a young guest named Keith arrives with a shiny miniature motorcycle. Right away, Ralph knows that the motorcycle is special—made to be ridden by an adventurous mouse. And once a mouse can ride a motorcycle . . . almost anything can happen!

Paddington Bear
2.5 hours. Paddington Bear had traveled all the way from Darkest Peru when the Brown family first met him on Paddington Station. Since then their lives have never been quite the same ... for ordinary things become quite extraordinary when a bear called Paddington is involved.

Little House in the Big Woods
3.5 hours. Laura Ingalls's story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Four-year-old Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack. 
Pioneer life is sometimes hard, since the family must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But it is also exciting as Laura and her folks celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. And every night they are safe and warm in their little house, with the happy sound of Pa's fiddle sending Laura and her sisters off to sleep. 
And so begins Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved story of a pioneer girl and her family. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America's frontier past and a heartwarming, unforgettable story. (http://www.littlehousebooks.com/books/bookdetail.cfm?ISBN13=9780064400015)

The Disney Fairies Collection

12 stories, 12 hours. Listening Library recordings of ten hours (that we know of) of stories about the Disney Fairies. The stories begin with a story about Tinkerbell. But then each story thereafter focuses on a different fairy and her adventure. I've included the link for the first book but you can scroll down and see all the other audio books available.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
4 hours. Open the door and enter a new world.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.

Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record

Stuart Little
Stuart Little is a shy, philosophical little mouse with a big heart and a taste for adventure. In spite of his diminutive stature, barely two inches tall, 
Stuart sets forth into the world wtih some mighty big plans: to ride a Fifth Avenue bus, to win a sailboat race in Central Park, and to teach school for a day. But Stuart's greatest adventure begins when he decides to find his best friend, Margalo, a pretty little bird who once lived in a Boston fern in the Littles' house in New York City. Climbing into his tiny car, Stuart hits the open road, sure he's heading in the right direction, only to find himself in for a big surprise.
Filled with warmth, wit and wonder, Stuart Little, is a timeless tale that speaks to the heroic spirit in all of us - no matter what our size.

Winnie the Pooh
[*Read by Peter Dennis]
Blackstone Audio presents (from the unabridged collection ''A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics,'') the ten stories of Winnie-the-Pooh performed by Peter Dennis. This is the only reading of these enthralling stories authorized by A.A. Milne's son, Christopher Robin, who wrote, ''Peter Dennis has made himself Pooh's Ambassador Extraordinary and no bear has ever had a more devoted friend. So if you want to meet the real Pooh, the bear I knew, the bear my father wrote about, listen to Peter.''

Beezus and Ramona
Big sister Beezus Quimby tries to be patient with her four-year-old little sister, Ramona, but it isn't easy, not when Ramona powders her nose with marshmallows and invites her nursery school class to a party without telling her family. Sometimes Beezus doesn't like Ramona, but the girls are sisters and that means they will always love each other—just not every single minute.

Of course, we have listened to many others. The kids had a hard time understanding the characters speak in Charlotte's Web and there were too many voices actors in the dramatised Winnie the Pooh...so many that we were all confused. I recommend listening to the version I listed above instead. And in the interest of full disclosure, as much as we all enjoy the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, my kids have taken to pretend the most annoying behaviors of the characters. So I have decided to shelf those (despite my children's protests) and look into the Magic Tree House series...

Updates October 21, 2016
We keep finding new stories. Some of them seem too mature for my four year old (e.g., A Wrinkle in Time) but the rest she has given her stamp of approval. Check publisher recommendations, https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ or message me for advice or more details!

The Magic Treehouse Series

48 of 51 stories have been prepared as audiobooks, read by the author. Books 1-8 take 5 hours and 40 minutes to hear, so I'll ballpark that you have about 50 hours of listening ahead of you with these stories.

The Magic Tree House is an American series of children's books written by American author Mary Pope Osborne.

The series consists of two groups. The first group consists of books 1-28, in which Morgan Le Fay sends Jack and Annie, two normal children who are siblings from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, on numerous adventures and missions with a magical tree house in order to help free Morgan from a spell, solve four ancient riddles to become Master Librarians, and save four ancient stories from being lost forever. The second group, referred to as the Magic Tree House "Merlin Missions," begins with book 29, Christmas in Camelot. In the Merlin Missions, Jack and Annie have quests from the ancient wizard Merlin the Magician. (Wikipedia)

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope. (Amazon)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Flemming
''Crackpot'' is what everybody calls the Pott family. So when they go to buy a new car and come back with a wreck, nobody is surprised - except for the Potts themselves. First, the car has a name, and she tells them what it is! Then they find out that she can fly . . . and swim.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a car on a mission to stop a criminal gang in its tracks - and she's taking the Potts with her. Jump into the world's most loved magical car for her first adventure. Includes an interview with David Tennant (Amazon)

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Zoe Elias has big musical dreams. As soon as she gets a glossy baby grand piano, she’ll be on her way. Trouble is, what Zoe gets is a wood-grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ. The Perfectone D-60. 
How will she ever be discovered as a prodigy when her lesson book is The Hits of the Seventies? Not even a cha-cha beat can make the theme song from The Brady Bunch sound like Beethoven. If you add to that problem a mom who’s always at work, a dad who’s afraid to leave the house, and an odd boy who follows her home from school every day, Zoe’s big dreams are looking pretty lopsided. (Amazon)

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
This is the biggest stretch for young listeners. The story is very long and filled with fantastical imagery. Know your child and proceed with caution here. 

Firedrake, a young dragon, receives a frightening warning one night: Humans are planning to destroy the valley in which he lives! All the dragons must flee. Their only refuge is a place above the clouds called the Rim of Heaven -- which may not even exist. Firedrake boldly volunteers to go ahead first. As he embarks on his journey, he meets Ben, a runaway boy. Together, the boy and the dragon make their way toward the Rim of Heaven, all the while running a step ahead of Nettlebrand, a monster who will stop at nothing to hunt down Firedrake. Their quest will truly become an adventure like no other. (Amazon)

Happy Listening!!

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