Gentle audiobooks for little kids?
September 15, 2018 6:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations of audiobooks/books on tape for a young child where conflict/tension is about as low as a functional plot allows. For example: The Gruffalo is okay, except that the "slice of bread" line generally gets a comment, and we often are asked to skip the page with the "terrible beast" in Room on the Broom.

The child in question is three, and will sit for literal hours being read to, interacting with the books and asking questions/providing commentary the whole time. The "advanced reader" picture books shelf at the library is generally a solid bet, and they also enjoy the occasional early chapter book like Fire Cat. We have one book on CD, Blueberries for Sal, that they like listening to on repeat in the car, and it's a sweet story and all but it's been almost two years of that and I'd really really like some more options.

Beyond that it should be a gentle sort of story without fighting or excessive peril, they're not actually very picky! Off the top of my head, other favorites include: the aforementioned Gruffalo and Fire Cat; Raising Dragons; Oh, What a Busy Day! (we skip the dead children poem); The Most Magnificent Thing; Gail Gibbons' astronomy books; Max's Words; Snutt the Ift; et cetera. I'd also love suggestions for (audio)books to grow into, since I'm sure longer selections are just over the horizon.
posted by teremala to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
They get a little on the silly side, but my kids both like the story pirates podcast. They take 2 stories submitted by kids and flesh them out into one story and a song each episode.
posted by dstopps at 6:26 AM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

We have 'A Squash and a Squeeze', also by Julia Donaldson, on audio book which is no peril at all.
posted by threetwentytwo at 7:26 AM on September 15, 2018

Beatrix Potter?

Some of her stories have a bit of peril but you can review the plots here and decide which your child might like.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:06 AM on September 15, 2018

My kids have always loved this version of the Winnie the Pooh stories.
Stellar voice cast and stories that should hopefully amuse you as well as child in question.
posted by fFish at 8:17 AM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I should be able to answer this. My kid found Where the Wild Things Are too scary, and he made me keep a copy of Fire Cat (for his children), even though I don't see the appeal.

Maybe the appeal is cats? So I recommend "Papa Piccolo", which you might have to get from the library. And maybe other books picked for Five in a Row series that young homeschoolers use. (I assume they lean very innocent, so they might not be scary. You would have to preview.)

I don't know if Madeleine is scary. The nuns are imposing, and she does go to the hospital.

A book that I owned as a kid is The Little Island. I think it was mostly scenery and had a little cat in it.

It seems like sweet animal books might be the sweet spot. I love humor so Piggy in the Puddle and Sheep in a Jeep were big hits at my house. (But I think the sheep are on a hill that is steep and have a car accident, so maybe that's alarming. IDK.)
posted by puddledork at 8:28 AM on September 15, 2018

Pete the Cat! We have it on CD.
Owl Babies

The Wild Robot would be a great one, but it has some tension and is longer. Recommend listening yourself first

Your library may have downloads. Or playaways.
posted by Ftsqg at 11:09 AM on September 15, 2018

Some of Mo Willems is available on audio.
posted by brujita at 11:17 AM on September 15, 2018

Frog and Toad!!!
posted by linettasky at 11:29 AM on September 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Curious George fit the bill for my kiddo.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:56 AM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Amelia Badelia, though you will have to explain how the wordplay makes the story funny. My conflict averse five year old loves the audio book version on hoopla.
posted by wilky at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2018

Seconding Frog & Toad. The Little Bear books by Minarik fit your description and are perfect for this age; it would be best if your kid had paper copies, too, for the amazing Sendak illustrations. I don't know how many books about talking bears you can handle, but the Corduroy books by Freeman, classic Winnie-the-Pooh (Milne, not the Disney dreck), and Paddington books all fit the bill. Toot & Puddle books by Hollie Hobbie. Owl Moon and really most Jane Yolen.
posted by xylothek at 6:49 PM on September 15, 2018

Frog and Toad!!!

Yes! These are read by Arnold Lobel and are super charming. He also reads the Mouse Takes audiobook.
posted by Artw at 8:11 PM on September 15, 2018

Miss Rumphius

The Little House

Little Bear

Frog and Toad
posted by SobaFett at 9:44 PM on September 15, 2018

Seconding Curious George. A huge hit with both of my kids, who sound similar to yours.
posted by forza at 1:27 AM on September 16, 2018

Thanks, friends! I grabbed the big set of Winnie the Pooh with an audible trial since it and all its constituent pieces are waitlisted for a million years through our library system. I'll look for an especially appealing Frog and Toad too; for whatever reason, the little one has decided they Do Not Like Frog and Toad, and I'd stopped seeking the books out, but the consensus is clear that they should be good fits! Pete the Cat I can't take any more of and hid the boxed set someone gifted us several months ago but, yes, our kid enjoyed it. I'll take a look at Curious George and see if he's more tolerable as an adult than I found him as a child. :) Will work through other suggestions too -- I'm not feeling the strain of too many talking bears yet, and The Bear and the Piano is another favorite, so maybe we'll dabble in that genre for a bit!

I'd forgotten about Owl Moon during this swampy summer, but we did really enjoy it and I should probably get it back out, which would dovetail nicely with getting the audiobook. "Will we see an owl tonight? It's dark and cold but I know I'm safe." is 100% on-target for this kid's most-preferred level of plot tension, where the story/illustrations can just be fascinating without all the need to process. "Here's how stuff works"-type books also go over well, like Big Joe's Trailer Truck, I just don't see how they'd make good audiobooks. I don't know if Madeline is too much, but suspect so; I've only ever seen the cartoon version, and I would say that the nuns there would be too disquieting. With Wild Things, we've had to talk a lot about why the mother would be so exasperated as to send Max away, and then how in the end she's apologizing by providing dinner after all. The wild things themselves are totally fine: the kid loves 'em and delights in studying the illustrations. So it's not scary scenarios that are the problem, exactly, more how they're addressed in the text and handled by the characters. Going to the hospital to deal with appendicitis (right?) would actually be perfect because it's a logical and effective solution. People being mean or harsh without any explanation or correction of the situation (Pickles is a borderline case, and "because he was bored" is honestly pretty weak, so we try to flesh it out extra-textually) is a much bigger deal.
posted by teremala at 9:03 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older Is my MIL at risk of being scammed here?   |   Novels like “Thank You All Very Much”? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments