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Listening For Little Ears: Top Audiobooks For Children!

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Listening For Little Ears: Top Audiobooks For Children!

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Audiobooks for children are a great way to introduce story telling and to encourage reluctant young readers. Who didn’t love a bedtime story as a kid? They’re also ideal to listen to as a family. Our list of the best audiobooks for children includes suggested titles for tots and middle-graders (a couple are also great for the grownups!). 

We’ve included some much-loved classics such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Gruffalo, and books for little ones to listen to at bedtime. Middle-graders are spoilt for choic e at the moment and we’ve listed some contemporary heavyweights – Eoin Colfer, and the British comedian David Walliams, who usually has several audiobooks for children in the bestseller lists.

To add some gravitas, we’ve included Summerland, a middle-grade novel, by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon. You might be surprised to find Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, and Ursula K. Le Guin below, each a big name in their respective (adult) genres.

Do audiobooks help children to read?

Audiobooks are a great way of bridging the gap between the bedtime story and the progression to more serious, personal reading. Mary Ann Scheuer, an educator, claims that exposing kids to spoken word stories can help improve early-stage literacy. Spoken stories help fill the vocabulary gap for children who haven’t been exposed to a broad vocabulary. For those kids who have, it helps them tackle more complex stories, aiding literacy and vocabulary development.

A study by WestEd in a San Francisco school district found that children who listened to audiobooks outperformed the control group (i.e. those that didn’t listen). Those who did listen to audiobooks for children achieved:

  • x3 reading comprehension (2nd and 3rd grade)
  • x7 vocabulary (3rd grade)
  • x4 reading motivation (2nd and 3rd grade)
  • 33% increase in rate of learning (2nd and 3rd grade)

58% of children attained their annual gain in reading achievement in just 10 weeks

Can audiobooks help children with dyslexia?

According to LearningAlly:

“Listening to an audiobook while following along with the text can actually help bridge the gap between decoding words and assigning meaning for kids with dyslexia. Receiving information both visually and audibly reinforces word recognition, improves fluency, builds vocabulary and supports the development of higher level comprehension skills.”

Listening without the text (as in the WestEd study, above) builds reading self-esteem, boost confidence and the ease the frustration that may come from trying to decode the words on a page or screen, allowing them to focus on the meaning instead. Audiobooks for kids may also help children with dyslexia keep up with peers in terms of listening to popular books and ultimately developing a genuine pleasure for reading.

Read on and listen to samples of some of the best audiobooks for children, all available on the hibooks app.

Happy listening!

Audiobooks For Kids – Young Readers

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss narrated by Kelsey Grammer

You have to feel sorry for Dick and Sally. It’s cold, wet and they’re stuck in the house with absolutely nothing to do . . . until a giant cat in a hat shows up, transforming the dull day into a madcap adventure and almost wrecking the place in the process! The Cat in the Hat is a timeless children’s classic, and often enjoyed by adults too. This edition is narrated by Kelsey Grammer, of Frasier fame.

Listen to a sample:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle narrated by Mike Ferreri

One sunny Sunday, the caterpillar was hatched out of a tiny egg. He was very hungry. On Monday, he ate through one apple; on Tuesday, he ate through three plums–and still he was hungry. When full at last, he made a cocoon around himself and went to sleep, to wake up a few weeks later wonderfully transformed into a butterfly!

The brilliantly innovative Eric Carle has dramatized the story of one of Nature’s commonest yet loveliest marvels, the metamorphosis of the butterfly. A great story about change and transformation, ideal for kids as they grow up.

Listen to a sample:

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, narrated by Hal Hollings

A mouse is taking a stroll through the dark wood when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat but smart enough to know this, so he invents . . . the gruffalo!

Julia Donaldson’s best-selling story has become a modern classic.

Listen to a sample:

Book cover of Otter: Oh No Bath Time! by Sam Graton- illustration Otter with a rubber duck. Top audiobooks for children. The hibooks blog

Otter: Oh No, Bath Time! by Sam Garton, narrated by Courtney Shaw

We’ve included a couple of audiobooks for children to help with bath time and starting school.

Otter and Teddy love to play in the garden. But when they get dirty, they have to do something they do not love at all: take a bath! Otter Keeper says bath time is fun, but Otter and Teddy are not so sure. . . .

Rubber ducks at the ready!

Otter Goes to School by Sam Garton, narrated by Courtney Shaw

In Otter Goes to School, Otter starts her own school for Teddy, Giraffe, and the rest of her friends. Their teacher’s great and they have a lot of fun together. . . until Teddy says he doesn’t like school anymore! Luckily, Otter Keeper comes to the rescue and teaches everyone the best lesson of all!

A great audiobook for children who are just about to start school or who already have their own soft-toy classroom!

Book cover of Otter: The Best Job Ever by Sam Garton. Top audiobooks for children. The hibooks blog

Otter: The Best Job Ever! by Sam Garton, narrated by Courtney Shaw

Otter and Teddy want to have their own jobs, just like Otter Keeper. Otter helps Teddy try many different things: an acrobat, an explorer, a cook. But finding the right job is a lot harder than they thought!

 

Audiobooks For Children – Middle-Grade

Middle-grade writers have really upped their game in the last few decades. Gone are the twee tales. In their place are writers from unexpected genres such as new weird, crime, and sci-fi. We’ve included soon-to-be modern classics such as Diary of A Wimpy Kid and the first book in the always-popular action series Artemis Fowl.

Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, narrated by the author

This is a charming fable of an exotic princess called Cinnamon who refuses to speak. She’s also blind, her eyes being pearls. Her distraught parents offer a reward for anyone who can help Cinnamon speak, and people come from far and wide to take on the task, but all are unsuccessful. That is, until a tiger saunters into the palace and announces that he is there to teach the girl to speak.

Other audiobooks for children by Neil Gaiman:

Listen to a sample:

Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin, narrated by the author

 

Ursula K. Le Guin, who died in January 2018, is best known for fantasy and sci-fi novels…and, presumably, her love of cats.

Le Guin wrote this highly acclaimed novel about a very special litter of kittens. Mrs. Jane Tabby has always longed to get away from the cramped alleys of the city. She knows it is too late for her, but she thinks her longing may be the reason her litter of kittens was born with wings. When they are old enough to fly, she sends the four kittens, who become known as catwings, out into the world to find their home. But they find that danger does not lurk only in city alleyways.

Listen to a sample:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, narrated by Ramon de Ocampo

Acclaimed debut author Jeff Kinney brilliantly re-creates the typical humor and logic of middle school boys sidling into adolescence.

Sixth grader Greg Heffley doesn’t understand his annoying younger brother, obnoxious older one, or well-meaning parents. But he knows enough to record his daily thoughts in a manly journal, not some boyish diary.

A great audiobook for boys and girls.

Listen to a sample:

Summerland by Michael Chabon, narrated by the author

From the Pulitzer Prize winning Michael Chabon comes this bestselling novel for readers of all ages that blends fantasy and folklore with that most American coming-of-age ritual: baseball.

Ethan Feld is having a terrible summer: his father has moved them to Clam Island, Washington, where Ethan has quickly established himself as the least gifted baseball player the island has ever seen. Ethan’s luck begins to change, however, when a mysterious baseball scout named Ringfinger Brown and a seven-hundred-and-sixty-five-year-old werefox enter his life, dragging Ethan into another world called the Summerlands. But this beautiful, winter-less place is facing destruction at the hands of the villainous Coyote, and it has been prophesized that only Ethan can save it.

In this cherished modern classic, the New York Times bestselling, Pulitzer Prize winning author brings his masterful storytelling, dexterous plotting, and singularly envisioned characters to a coming-of-age novel for readers of all ages.

Listen to a sample:

Treasure Hunters by James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein, Mark Shulman. Narrated by Bryan Kennedy

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life and I Funny comes a brilliantly original new adventure series, jam-packed with action, humor, and heart!

Best known for the Alex Cross series and selling over 300m copies of his crime novels worldwide, James Patterson also turns his hand to kid’s books.

The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear on the job, the siblings are suddenly find themselves embarking on the biggest treasure hunt of their lives. They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents – and find out if they’re still alive.

Listen to a sample:

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, narrated by Nathaniel Parker

From a strikingly original voice in fiction comes the story of Artemis Fowl, a very unusual hero. Artemis combines the astuteness of Sherlock Holmes with the sangfroid of James Bond and the attitude of Attila the Hun. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories. These fairies are armed and they’re dangerous. Artemis thinks he’s got them just where he wants them, but then they stop playing by the rules . . .

Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl opens up a riveting world of magic, mystery, and humor.

Other books in the Artemis Fowl series available on hibooks:

Listen to a sample:

The Midnight Gang by David Walliams, narrated by David Walliams, Peter Serafinowicz, Ellen Thomas, Morwenna Banks, Nitin Ganatra

Hailed as “the heir to Roald Dahl” by The Spectator, the UK’s #1 bestselling children’s author, David Walliams, will have fans of Jeff Kinney and Rachel Renee Russell in stitches!

David Walliams burst on to the American scene with his New York Times bestseller Demon Dentist, and now he’s bringing his signature humor to the sick ward in The Midnight Gang.

Tom lands in the hospital with a nasty bump on the head after a gym class accident. And things only get worse when he meets the hospital staff, including the wicked matron of the children’s ward.. But luckily, Tom’s time in the hospital will be anything but boring when he discovers that his fellow patients turn the awful ward into the most wondrous world after lights out

Join the Midnight Gang as they make their wildest dreams come true!

Other books by David Walliams available on hibooks:

Listen to a sample:

Anticipated Audiobooks for kids in 2018 (so far!)

The Lifters by Dave Eggers, narrated Dion Graham

Journey to an underground world where adventure awaits and heroes are made in this middle grade novel from the bestselling, Pulitzer-nominated author ofThe Monk of Mokha and The Circle.

When Gran and his family move to Carousel, he has no idea that the town is built atop a secret. Little does he suspect, as he walks his sister to school or casually eats a banana, that mysterious forces lurk mere inches beneath his feet, tearing up the earth like mini-hurricanes and causing the town to slowly but surely sink.

When Gran’s friend, the difficult-to-impress Catalina Catalan, presses a silver handle into a hillside and opens a doorway to underground, he knows that she is extraordinary and brave, and that he will have no choice but to follow wherever she leads. With luck on their side, and some discarded hockey sticks for good measure, Gran and Catalina might just find a way to lift their town—and the known world—out of danger.

In The Lifters, critically acclaimed author Dave Eggers establishes himself as a storyteller who can entertain and inspire readers of any age.

Listen to a sample:

She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) by Ann Hood, narrated by Holly Linneman

Bestselling author Ann Hood crafts a funny, heartfelt story of a girl growing up in the heart of Beatlemania.

The year is 1966. The Vietnam War rages overseas, the Beatles have catapulted into stardom, and twelve-year-old Rhode Island native Trudy Mixer is not thrilled with life. Her best friend, Michelle, has decided to become a cheerleader, everyone at school is now calling her Gertrude (her hated real name), and the gem of her middle school career, the Beatles fan club, has dwindled down to only three other members—the least popular kids at school. And at home, her workaholic father has become even more distant.

Determined to regain her social status and prove herself to her father, Trudy looks toward the biggest thing happening worldwide: the Beatles. She is set on seeing them in Boston during their final world tour—and meeting her beloved Paul McCartney. So on a hot August day, unknown to their families, Trudy and crew set off on their journey, each of them with soaring hopes for what lies ahead.

In her signature prose, Hood crafts an extraordinary story of growing up, making unexpected connections, and following your dreams even as the world in front of you—and the world at large—is changing too fast.

Listen to a sample:

Bob by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead. Narrated by Nora Hunter, Rob Dircks

New York Times bestselling authors Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, masterminds of classic middle-grade fiction, come together to craft a magical story about the enduring power of friendship.

It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.

It turns out she’s right.

Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who-or what-he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.

Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.

Listen to a sample:

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, narrated by Priya Ayyar

The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when—as the eldest daughter—she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal—especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Listen to a sample:

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty, narrated by Ana Isabel

A lightning strike gave her a super power…but even a super genius can’t solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth GoldfishRain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test—middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?

A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty’s smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.

Listen to a sample:

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz, Renée Watson, narrated by Ilyasah Shabazz

In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born.

Inspired by Betty’s real life—but expanded upon and fictionalized through collaboration with novelist Renée Watson—Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother’s childhood with this book, painting an inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today.

Listen to a sample:

Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks, narrated by Monika Felice Smith, Christopher Gebauer

ABC’s Shark Tank meets The Terrible Two when two sixth grade entrepreneurs compete to become top mogul on their block.

Twelve-year-old Peter Gronkowski prides himself on being a professional businessman. Tired of the clichéd lemonade stands that line his block, he decides to start a better business with the help of an intern. But his intern of choice, the quiet and writerly Rachel Chambers, turns out to be more than he bargained for. Rachel is innovative, resourceful, driven—and when she’s had enough of Peter’s overbearing management style, she decides to start a competing empire next door. As their rivalry and sabotage tactics become more outrageous—Slander! Espionage! Lemonade threats!—Peter and Rachel ultimately learn the hard way that “nothing gold can stay” and that friendship is more important than money.

Alternating perspectives reveal what really motivates each character to win. And Peter’s memos and “business tips” as well as excerpts from Rachel’s melodramatic novel-in-progress generate fresh hilarity and tension at every turn. Payback on Poplar Lane is a pitch-perfect comedy with heart.

Listen to a sample:

This is by no means a definitive list of audiobooks for kids. Take a look at our app for thousands of other titles – we also have books for grown ups too 😉 Check out the latest fiction audiobooks and nonfiction audiobooks for adults available now on hibooks.

Steve Partridge

Steve is from the UK and has lived in London, Bulgaria, and Berlin. He studied Christian theology at King’s College London and spent several years working in publishing. His articles, books reviews, interviews and essays have been published in a range of digital and print magazines. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the Brighton Fringe Festival Writers Prize. His obsession with books and writing led him to start his own ‘BookTube’ channel on YouTube (to which you should probably subscribe). You can find him talking nonsense on Twitter @StPartridge.

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