Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on my post on downloading children’s audiobooks on Audible!
Here’s part two – a compilation of all the favorite audiobook titles that were submitted and an evaluation of Audible vs. the other players that folks said that they sometimes used, Spotify and Hoopla, and of course the folks who picked good ole CDs!
Summary: If your library has Hoopla, use that to get specific audiobooks (suggestions below and in my previous post). Also get the free trial of free trial of Audible for the selection and the ability to search and discover new books geared towards your kids. Then you see if you use it enough for it to be worth paying for, or if just Hoopla is enough. Don’t bother with Spotify for audiobooks, although it’s great for music! And if you find books you like that your kids want to hear over and over, several folks suggest buying books with CDs by the same author so your kids can read the books or follow along independently!
The apps: Hoopla, Audible, and Spotify
Hoopla is an app that is partnered with many libraries to allow patrons to borrow ebooks, music, videos, and audiobooks for free (we love free!) Check with your local library – not all libraries have this but many do and the way it works is that you sign up with your library card and can then borrow a certain amount of items per month (5 in the case of my local library).
- Biggest pro: Free!
- Biggest con: General “Children’s” category, with sorting options being newest, popular, or A-Z, so there’s no way to search for good stories for 6 year olds, or stories about animals, or stories that are above a certain rating.
- Use for: Downloading titles that you know you’d want (check out my personal list in my previous post or the titles suggested by readers below) – just type in the audiobook and up it comes!
Audible is an app now owned by Amazon that allows you to buy audiobooks, with a huge selection and a lot of categories and ways to narrow and evaluate titles. There is a monthly cost for it but you can get a free trial (one or three months), which is awesome.
- Biggest pro: Amazon’s search engine machinery and selection – you can find cool new stuff here. You can select children’s audiobooks by age, by category (biographies animals, etc), by author, by length, by language, and more. You can also sort by prices (they have tons of $0.87 audiobooks) and by average customer reviews (or select to only see books with above a certain number of stars).
- Biggest con: Cost – after the free trial you have to pay for it, obviously. It’s free for three months if you have Prime (if you don’t, try it free here), or one month if you don’t. Here’s the link for the free trial: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks (and Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial if you don’t have Prime already)
Spotify is an app that lets you stream music and other audiofiles. It is primarily organized by channel, so is great to find someone with similar music tastes and follow their channel. They have a kids music channel, but there’s not a particular “good audiobooks for kids ages 5-7 who like nonfiction” or whatnot channel and when I search for specific authors or books it comes up blank or gives me The Verve instead of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
- Biggest pro: They have a free channel and maybe you would be better at me at finding an audiobook channel for you kids? (if so, please comment and share)
- Biggest con: The free version has advertising – not what you want to add into kid’s lives.
The books: Titles, Series/Authors, and Narrators (who knew?!)
See my personal recommendations in the previous post, or check out these recs from other moms responding to my question:
- Todd Parr’s Feelings Bundle (on Audible) or The Feelings Book (on Hoopla) [please note that I can’t link to a specific book in Hoopla without us both belonging to the same library so am just doing the general Amazon link to the book so people can see it) Great for all ages (recs from moms to 2, 4, and 7 year olds)
- The Quite Remarkable Adventure of the Owl and the Pussycat (recommended by multiple folks as good for all ages – I am downloading this when I’m done with this post!)
- Curious George’s First Day of School (from a mom with a new kindergartener)
- The Children of Noisy Village (from a mom to a 5 year old)
- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (for getting children to fall asleep in the car)
- Pippi Longstocking
- Free To Be You and Me (oddly, on Hoopla but I can’t find it on Audible)
- Mary Poppins (from a mom to a 5 year old)
- Frog & Toad (2Y thru ~6)
- Anything by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, etc.)
- Anything by Beverly Clearly (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Ramona & Beezus, Ramona the Pest, etc.)
- The Boxcar Children series (we also read some of these in my house – they are great chapter books although tend to lose my younger one’s interest when read aloud so maybe best for 4/5+)
- Anna Hibiscus
- Sparkle Stories (with a shout-out “Especially the Martin and Sylvia ones”) – these are a free weekly podcast that a local mom recommended as being good for kids of all ages and enjoyable for parents as well!
And some recs for specific narrators – so cool, I never thought of searching by this but now I will! – quoting the moms who recommended here:
- “On Audible, we also loved Winnie the Pooh, it’s almost two hours long and narrated by Stephen Fry, Dame Judi Dench, and others. if i’m going to have to listen to it too, i need it to have good voice actors!”
- “Harry Potters too! They are narrated by Stephen Fry and I love his voice.”
- “One of my all-time favorite narrators is Jim Dale. He did the US version of the Harry Potter books which we haven’t listened to yet. but we got Return to Hundred Acre Wood from the library and he does all the characters (Pooh, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl) and they all sound like completely different people doing the voices. really fun.”
Tips and tricks:
- Browse and then borrow or buy the books on your computer instead of on an iPad or mobile. It’s much easier to see, you can have multiple windows open, and there are often more selection categories or more details. Once you get a book in an app it’s automatically there in any versions of the app you may have, although you might have to click to download it to each individual device.
- Check the version of the book before borrowing or buying – some popular titles have more than one version listed on each service. They may have a single narrator versus a cast, an interview with the author, or some other feature – make sure you’re getting the one you want!
- Pick longer books (relative to your child’s age, that is). You can see how long audiobooks are before downloading them. In general you’ll have a limited number of credits so you don’t want to waste them on the three minute recording of The Very Hungry Caterpillar when you could choose A House For Hermit Crab at 12 minutes if you have a hankering for Eric Carle. Bonus: you probably haven’t read A House For Hermit Crab to your kids 7,000 times already! Or get The Boxcar Children Collection at 7+ hours and the first three books instead of just The Boxcar Children (the first book) at two hours.
- Make sure you know what your library limits are for Hoopla – mine is five free downloads a month of any media format, but a friend who lives in a nearby town has five free audiobook downloads a month with different limits on other media.
[If you need help finding your local library online to see if it offers audiobooks, here’s a directory of public libraries by state. I’m enjoying trying out audiobooks but nothing replaces the physical library for me!]