Audio Books for Young Children
December 1, 2012 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend who needs to commute to day care with a 3- and 5-year old and is really sick of kid's music. Can you recommend audio books for this age range which might keep the kids entertained for the ~30-minute trip?
posted by GenjiandProust to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I loved this audiobook of Greek Myths as a kids, listened to it all the time.
posted by Garm at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2012

My kids loved "Not Norman."
posted by justonegirl at 12:12 PM on December 1, 2012

My brother and I loved the Classical Kids series when we were little, and they wouldn't be too annoying for an adult (though our cassette tapes did take 'vacations' after a few weeks of repeated listening). Your friend's 3 year old is on the young side for them, but since there's a musical component might still be entertained. Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, and Handel are particularly good stories.
posted by snorkmaiden at 12:35 PM on December 1, 2012

How the Rhino Got His Skin and How the Camel Got His Hump narrated by Jack Nicholson

(which, as a childless 25 year old, I now feel compelled to download for my iPod)

Edit: Just saw the entirety of the Just So Stories are available for free on iTunes U. Awesome.
posted by justjess at 12:47 PM on December 1, 2012

We loved some of the books by Dick King Smith (Harry's Mad and Three Terrible Trins) and also Lynn Reid Banks (I, Houdini). Those are all animal books and might be slightly old for the 3yo, but I think the 5 would like them. Read the descriptions and see what you think.

The Trins are BIG troublemakers though, do be warned.
posted by jvilter at 12:48 PM on December 1, 2012

How about some Roald Dahl stories, like Matilda?
posted by teststrip at 12:56 PM on December 1, 2012

Has friend been introducing kids to other music? My rather opinionated older son will, for whatever reason, happily tolerate an hour in the car with Stevie Ray Vaughan. Daddy likes the blues, so this is a good thing.
posted by bfranklin at 12:59 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

My daughter loves listening to the Magic School Bus and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle CDs. I find the former reasonably interesting, but the latter rather irritating (of the sugary voice variety). (Also worth checking if the car has a way to put most of the volume in the back, so you don't have to listen while the kids do.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2012

I adore Classical Kids. Huge shaper of my childhood. Also: try folk music. Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. Try music in other languages - kids songs in Spanish or Japanese for example - maybe that would be less annoying.
posted by Cygnet at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2012

On his official website, Robert Munsch offers 50 (!!) free mp3s of himself reading his books. His stories are perfect for 5+, but the 3 year old will enjoy them too--Munsch has had a lot of experience as a storyteller as well as a writer, and he puts lots of expression into his readings.

To access the mp3s, click on one of the book covers and choose the "download" icon.

My favourites:

The Paper Bag Princess. "The Paper Bag Princess was first told at the Bay Area Childcare Center in Coos Bay Oregon where I had a job in 1973 and 1974. I had been telling lots and lots of dragon stories. They were all fairly regular dragon stories where the prince saves the princess from the dragon. One day my wife, who also worked at the daycare centre, came to me and said 'How come you always have the prince save the princess? Why can’t the princess save the prince?' I thought about that and changed around the ending of one of my dragon stories. That made the adults a lot happier, and the kids did not mind."

I Have to Go! "I was telling stories in a small town called Cookstown, Ontario. A little boy in the front row started to jump up and down on his seat. I didn’t pay attention. After awhile he starts to yell 'pee, pee, pee.' His father ran down the aisle, carried him out the back door, brought him back in a few minutes and sat him down. This was the end of the storytelling and I was making up a new story. I said 'Who wants to be in a new story?' The little kid who had to go pee stuck up his hand and said 'me, me.' His name was Andrew. The same name as my son who had peed his bed four times the night before. I suddenly felt a pee story coming on; so I made up a story about a little kid who goes pee at all the wrong times. The kids loved it. They fell off their seats laughing."

Murmel, Murmel, Murmel: "Murmel is actually about adoption. I made it up just as we were adopting our first son, Andrew. The little girl in the book, Robin, was a next door neighbor who was also adopted. That’s why I used her in the story. And the truck driver at the end who gets the baby is actually me, because just then I was adopting a baby. I liked the idea of a man getting a baby, because just after we adopted Andrew I was staying home with him, but nobody would believe that I was actually staying at home and taking care of a baby. They would say 'Oh no, you are actually working on your writing. We know men don’t stay home and take care of babies.' That’s why I wanted the truck driver to get the baby at the end of the book."

Good Families Don't: "GOOD FAMILIES DON’T was a 'tell' story a long time before it was a book. It’s about a family where the parents think that 'good families' don’t have farts. For the longest time I thought it would never be made into a book. That is because publishers would read it and laugh and laugh and laugh and then say, 'That is really funny and we will NEVER make it into a book.'"
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:51 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Robert Munsch reads his own stories, which can be downloaded, and are PERFECT for that age. The adults in the family had to set a three-story at a time limit though - until we bought her headphones. I get that he's much-adored, but we can only take so much of the schtick. (On preview - hurdy gurdy girl just beat me to it! I'll add that Millicent and the Wind is my favourite, because it's the least Munsch-like story.)

Also, Scholastic is your friend here.

Farmer Jason is also pretty great for that age (we still like The Tractor Goes Chug Chug Chug) - but then, we've always fans of his, period. They're like story songs.

Really, our kid has always liked our music - it helps when guys like Paul Westerberg do songs like Mr. Rabbit -- but by age 5 she was asking for Wagon Wheel and singing along like a champ.
posted by peagood at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2012

I don't think you need kid-specific stuff. I always listened to NPR in the car with my daughter, because that's what I like to listen to. I would just crank the volume down if they did a piece on something terrible (and they are usually very good at giving a head's up when they are about to talk about something disturbing).

Alternatively, (because I realize that not everyone likes NPR) you could just select music that you like. Kids will learn to like whatever music they are exposed to, typically.
posted by jeoc at 3:08 PM on December 1, 2012

I commute to daycare every day with a 3 year old and a 5 year old, and they get to listen to NPR or some techno, depending on my mood ;) However we do have an audio book of Winnie the Pooh, narrated by Steven Fry and a cast of other British luminaries, which is quite popular when we listen to it.
posted by Joh at 3:36 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your children might enjoy the audiobook of Aaaarrgghh, Spider!
posted by paduasoy at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2012

My kids liked "The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr. Seuss Favorites."

My recollection is that this reading of "The Wind in the Willows" was quite good.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:18 PM on December 1, 2012

Zooglobble is a blog about kids' music, which can help you find good music for them as they get older, and has always had an ear towards the needs of parents who will have to endure the music while the kids listen. I can see the site has grown a bit, but it served me very well when shopping for my nieces, who are now 7 and 9. (The 9 year old wants a One Direction (current heartthrob boyband from the UK) CD this Christmas... yup, it's getting to be that time.)
posted by Sunburnt at 5:40 PM on December 1, 2012

NPR is good in my car, KPL on SiriusXM, Magic treehouse books.
posted by tilde at 6:09 PM on December 1, 2012

Skippyjon Jones
posted by Mertonian at 4:42 AM on December 2, 2012

Thanks, everyone! The friend has placed library requests for a bunch of the audio books, so that is an excellent start!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2012

« Older Recommend me bands highly similar to Filter (&...   |   Cross-lingual baby name suggestions Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.