A familiar chant to be heard coming from the back of our car at the beginning of a journey is "story, story, story". My children are both huge fans of listening to children's books on CD (or even downloaded to the iPod and played over the car radio). As soon as I press play, quiet descends on the car as my normally vocal boys listen intently, interrupting only occasionally to clarify the meaning of a word.
There are many advantages of encouraging your child to listen to children's books on CD (in addition to calmer car journeys), although try not to let it substitute reading aloud to your child yourself also.
Audiobooks let your child enjoy books that are above her reading level and provide a good model for fluent reading. They help to develop listening skills and are a good way of enriching your child's vocabulary and introducing her to unfamiliar dialects or old-fashioned literary styles. Hearing a book read aloud by a talented storyteller can really bring a story to life, highlighting humour where it might have been missed, and adding drama and intrigue to a story. Listening to children's books on CD also helps to expand your child's background knowledge by using otherwise 'dead' time in the car to introduce her to new situations and experiences.
All of these advantages of audiobooks provide a big boost to improving your child's own reading skills.
Here are some of the children's books on CD which we have enjoyed the most, with those suitable for younger listeners towards the top of the list and those for more advanced listeners towards the end of the list.
For more ideas of enjoyable children's books on CD have a browse through the winners of the Notable Children's Recordings List, which the Association for Library Service to Children compiles each year of the best of the best in children's recordings.
An interesting list of recommended children's books on cd can also be found at Capitol Choices. Each year since 1996 a group of librarians, teachers, booksellers and other children's literature specialists around the Washington, D.C. area select a list of outstanding books and audiobooks for children up to the age of sixteen. For each recommendation in the list of audiobooks there is a brief synopsis and a suggested age range, although unfortunately the list is not searchable by age range. Most of the audiobooks are for ages 9 and over although there are some suggestions for younger children.
Each year a list of Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults is announced by The Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, featuring notable audio recordings for ages 12-18 years.
You can also find good suggestions on the Parents' Choice Award Winners website in the Audio Book category.
Other lists of children's books on CD worth checking out are:
Of course, in this day and age you do not have to buy the CD to listen to the book, you can just download it on-line. There are a few interesting options for downloading free audiobooks specifically for children.
Many old classics, such as 'Black Beauty', 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz', 'Treasure Island' or 'The Secret Garden' are in the public domain and recordings of these classic children's books on CD made by volunteers can be downloaded for free onto your computer, iPod or MP3 player.
You can also access free children's books on CD via the excellent iPhone Free Audiobooks app so that you can listen to your favourite stories while on the go.
Storynory has an online library of free audio stories for children (read with a British accent) which you can listen to on your computer, download in MP3 format or subscribe with iTunes for easy upload to your iPod. There is a mixture of new stories, fairy tales, and specially adapted myths and histories.
The Story Home is another great source of free stories for children, this time read with an American accent. As with Storynory, these stories can be played on your computer or easily downloaded to an iPod or iPhone. iPhone apps also exist for both of these websites.
To purchase audiobooks on-line try audible.com in the USA or audible.co.uk in the UK.Happy listening!
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