Friday, August 2, 2013

Audio Books and Stories for Kids (a list of what we love)

(My best list for making Quiet Time better)

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I recently promised a friend some ideas of books on CD for kids. I also recall a few friends asking for some similar suggestions about a year ago.  In the world of newbie bloggers, this can be interpreted as "hoards of fans are holding their breath until I post my list of recommendations."  Haha. 

I'm actually doing this for myself.  Because it really will be helpful for me to have a centralized place for keeping track of what we read and listen to.  And as a bonus, it's all in here in black and white for anyone else who's interested.

My youngest two kids still nap in the afternoon.  My oldest two have mandatory quiet time which involves listening to books and stories on cd (and maybe drawing, Legos, or puzzles if I'm feeling generous.)  We also often listen to stories in the car. We've amassed quite a collection of cd's and have a bevy of favorites that we take out of the library on a regular basis.  I have no parameters as to what's appropriate or what I'll allow them to listen to (despite some really obvious objections...)  I decide case by case, and sometimes there's no rhyme or reason - just my gut.  For instance, in general, I'm not in favor of violence, but we listen to the Chronicles of Narnia and Robin Hood.  Or again, some stories have occasional crude words, ("You silly ass" shows up in Peter Pan, I think) but I don't rule it out and instead remind the boys that just because you hear it in a story doesn't mean that it's now an approved part of your vocabulary.  And of course, you have to take content into account - Sarah Plain and Tall is a wonderful book, but it's all based on the fact that the children's mother died, or... it's edifying to listen to the lives of the saints, but are your kids ready to hear about martyrdom?  You get the point.  I've tried to discuss stuff like that with the kids before we launch into a book, but even I've been caught off guard by books that had words or content that took me by surprise.  

Without going on and on as I am prone to do... Here's a list of what we've read/listened to.  Keep in mind that my boys are 5 1/2 and 7.  I'd love to get your suggestions also!  (For those of you who are local, I've starred the items that are available through the local library system.)  

Sorry there aren't more links.  I just wanted to get this done. I may try to add some another time.  

Books on CD (in no particular order, except that maybe our favorite are nearer the top)

* Little House Series, Laura Ingalls Wilder  (they are ALL available through my local library)

* Mr. Popper's Penguins, Florence and Richard Atwater

* Tales of Beatrix Potter, Beatrix Potter

* Charlotte's Web, E. B. White

* Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne

  Treasury for Children, James Herriot

* Three Tales of My Father's Dragon, Ruth Stiles Gannett

* American Tall Tales, Mary Pope Osborne

* Tales from the Odyssey, Mary Pope Osborne

* Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis (we have only allowed these after we have read the books out loud together)

* Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling (we've read an abridged version, and Aaron had read Riki Tiki Tavi at tutoring)

* Ribsy, Beverly Cleary

* The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

* Bless This Mouse, Lois Lowry

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

* The Cricket in Times Square, George Seldon

* Black Beauty, Anna Sewell (we read it aloud first)

* Heidi, Johanna Spyri (read an abridged version first)

* Bambi, Felix Salten, adapted by Janet Schulman

* The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett (had read an abridged version first, they listened to an unabridged recording)

* Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie (same note as above)

Robin Hood (a one hour version from DK Classics)

* Truth and Life New Testament (yep!  they have it at the library!)

* Magic Treehouse Collection, Mary Pope Osborne (if you're not familiar with this series, I'd probably recommend checking it out for yourself before letting the kids listen/read.  For the most part I like them, and the boys have learned a lot from the stories, but the later books seem to get into a little about sorcery??  I'm not too sure what it's all about because we've stuck with the earlier volumes.  If you've read the later ones and have a better-informed opinion than mine, please let me know!)

Next, I think, on our list to read and then listen to: The Wind in the Willows and Sarah Plain and Tall & Caleb's Story , and Five Little Peppers and How They Grew

Other Worthwhile Recordings that are not "Books"

* Chronicles of Narnia,
Focus on the Family Radio Theater (our library has at least two or three of these)

* Grimm's and Hans Christen Anderson's Fairy Tales, performed by Danny Kaye

Pecos Bill, performed by Robin Williams

Irish Folk Tales for Children, MORE Irish folk Tales for Children, Sharon Kennedy

ANY of the Glory Stories (stories of the Saints) from Holy Heroes.  We especially like Volume 1 (Blessed Imelda and Juan Diego) and the more recent ones - Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, and Blessed Miguel Pro.  The boys also really like the Holy Heroes audio version of the Stations of the Cross.

ALL of the Classical Kids CD's - stories of great composers
     Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery
   * Mr. Bach Comes to Call
   * Hallelujah Handel!
   *  Beethoven Lives Upstairs
     Tchaikovsky Visits America
     Mozart's Magic Fantasy
   * Mozart's Magnificent Voyage
   * The Song of the Unicorn (early music)
   * Classical Kids Christmas (a lovely collection of stories and songs, not secular) 

Anything from Jim Weiss at Greathall Productions.  I am saving my nickles and dimes to get a hefty collection of these stories.  But for now, these are the ones you can get at *our* local library...
   * A Christmas Carol and Other Favorites
   * Tales from Cultures Far and Near
   * Best Loved Stories in Song and Dance
   * Fairy Tale Favorites in Song and Dance 
   * Celtic Treasures 
   * Come On Seabiscuit! by Ralph Moody (a full length book)
(note: I'd say the last two on the list are probably best suited for children a little older than mine...)

Lastly, "think outside the box" - to use an already overused phrase.  It doesn't have to be a spoken drama or book to be a good story.  For example, the boys know the story of Joseph from the Old Testament very well so they can understand and appreciate the soundtrack to the show Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.   Or, after reading/listening to Peter Pan, they really enjoyed the soundtrack from the Mary Martin Peter Pan.  The love to listen to stuff like that at rest time, too.  It's "story" enough for me!

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I think that's it for now.  But don't forget these VERY important points...

Kids scratch CD's.  Copy them to your computer before you hand them over so that you have a digital backup for when the inevitable happens.

OR - go digital.  Buying the MP3 version of a recording is often cheaper than buying the disc.

OR - do both - Did you know that if you buy an actual physical CD from Amazon, it will automatically go into your Amazon Cloud. You can play it via your tablet or other mini device as long as you have internet access. 

And, lest you think I really know what I'm talking about... I barely do.  We still use old fashioned cd's and occasionally my tech-savvy mom feels sorry for me and helps us get set up with a digital recording here and there.  (Seriously, without my mom, I'd probably still be reading paper copies of everything.  Or typing this post on a typewriter...)


  1. My OLDEST LOVES listening to books on tape . . . I was shocked to realize that he has several of the books in the Chonicles of Narnia MEMORIZED because he has listened to them so much. They like listening to the Bible on CD too, but I have yet to find a good translation on CD.

    1. Katie, I'm with Mary on the Truth and Life New Testament. (she first recommended it to me too!) We all really like it. It's very well done.

  2. First off, I'm so glad I'm not the only one still attached to CDs! I don't know why MP3s scare me so much. Second, it's amazing how much they love listening to things and how much they retain from it, isn't it? We have a few of the Jim Weiss CDs if you ever want to borrow any. I really enjoy his voice. We have the Story of the World on CD as well and that's pretty much how my boys know more about history than I do :) Katie, if you see this, we really love the Truth and Life audio Bible. It's the RSV-CE translation and it is superbly done. They even have some big names doing the reading. I highly recommend it!

    1. Mary I'm so interested in hearing the Story of the World CD's because you always speak so highly of them! We have two of the books, but I sometimes find myself less than eager to read them out loud :(
      I'd love to see which Greathall titles you have. I love his story telling approach and the company's philosophy so much, I'm looking forward to when I can support them with a purchase!

  3. I've been thinking about the SOTW CDs. Mine have charlottes web memorized and live poppers penguins. The Holy Heroes is another favorite too. I will be looking into the truth and life CDs thanks!

  4. and...i just sent this link to my family members for ideas on what to get the kids for special occasions, birthdays, etc. thanks for the ideas!


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