I have written previously about our love of audiobooks. I truly began to appreciate them when Immy was about 3 ½ years old and transitioning from a daily nap time to quiet time. Since then they have become a feature of regular daily life here – we (sometimes they are playing for all of us to hear, sometimes Immy listens alone) listen in the car, as we eat breakfast, during playtime in the playroom, on planes (maybe not as regularly as the others!), during quiet time on weekends, and even, sometimes, when we go walking.
As a parent, I love the convenience of audiobooks and I think they are a wonderful way to develop listening skills of children aged three years and up. If you are yet to try audiobooks with your children, here are a few tips for introducing and using them;
- Begin with shorter, familiar stories for young children. It is much easier for them to attend if it is a story they already know.
- Children need to be relatively still and quiet to follow along, making travelling in the car or rest/quiet time a great time to introduce audiobooks.
- When purchasing audiobooks for children listen to the free snippet of audio, check the age recommendation and read the reviews for each story to make sure that the version is a reading that you will enjoy listening to (not all audio recording styles suit everyone) and that is appropriate for your children – the latter is especially important for stories you are unfamiliar with.
- We have a secondhand iPod loaded only with songs and stories that Immy is allowed to listen to which encourages her to listen independently. I would also recommend purchasing a small, child friendly speaker (see the koala above) and a set of child headphones. The headphones are great for travelling and for times when you (and other family members) would prefer not to listen!
- I have also loaded our stories onto my iPhone and our iPad as back up for when we are out and about.
One genre of books (if you can call it that!) that Immy particularly enjoys is books that have been made into movies. For many widely loved children’s book/movies, we have generally introduced the story first, both in paper (read together) and audio (listen independently) versions. Immy has known the story inside out before ever laying eyes on the movie. This is great for teaching her to be discerning with her media consumption – once we have seen the movie we will talk about the differences between the story and the movie and why these differences exist. For example, did you know that Dorothy’s magical shoes were originally silver, they were changed to red by the Hollywood screenwriter of the 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz.
Getting to know the story first can also be a great way to help judge if you think your child is ready for the movie version yet. Or alternatively, try listening to the audio version of the story after watching the film – your child will have to use attentive listening skills to discover the differences between the two mediums!
However you choose to enjoy them, here are 10 popular children’s books that have been transformed into successful movies. The list includes suggestions for younger children through to tweens and teens – and a handy link to Audible for each one, if you wish to find out more.
1. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
A great first introduction to audio books for children from about 3 ½-4 years of age who are able to listen attentively beyond the pages of a picture book. They’ll love the movie too.
2. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
The Little Mermaid is a great starting point for discussion about the differences between books and movies – how will the life of The Little Mermaid change following her first visit to world above the ocean where she meets a handsome human Prince, and falls in love?
3. Aladdin this version by BBC Audiobooks
Aladdin is a tailor’s son who dreams of making his fortune and marrying the Sultan’s daughter, but he is tricked into becoming an apprentice to a cunning magician. He needs Aladdin to do a very special job – climb down into a deep, dark cave to fetch an oil lamp…what magic awaits?
4. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Somehow the nasty old witches don’t seem so scary for younger children in the audio book version of The Wizard of Oz! This is one of Immy’s all time favourites.
5. Cinderella this version by Charles Perrault
The classic fairytale of Cinderella, treated as a servant by her nasty stepmother and step sisters, her life is transformed when she meets a very special fairy godmother and a wonderful prince.
6. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
A forgotten wardrobe becomes the pathway to adventure and intrigue as four children step into another time and place – a magical world of fauns, dwarves, and giants, of animals that talk and horses that fly: the land of Narnia.
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
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 girly diary. In a unique novel brimming with laugh-out-loud moments, Greg chronicles his first turbulent year of middle school
8. Little Women by L.M. Alcott
Little Women is one of the best-loved children’s stories of all time. Meet the four very different March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – and enjoy stories of their family life in a small New England community.
9. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Hiccup was a truly extraordinary Viking Hero, Warrior chieftain, awesome sword-fighter and amateur naturalist. He was known throughout Vikingdom as ‘the Dragon Whisperer’ on account of his power over these terrifying beasts. But it wasn’t always like that….
10. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
The unhappy tale of three unlucky children, magnets of misfortune, who encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast!
Have you discovered the joy of audiobooks with your children?