Audiobooks have several benefits. While they may not be a substitute for reading to your children, their sounds and music offer a fresh stimulus for their imaginations. They can help foster a love of books for children who aren’t that interested in reading.
Benefits of audiobooks
Audiobooks have the potential to open up new and creative ways of learning. For example, they offer children who struggle with dyslexia, and those with other reading setbacks, another way to enjoy storytelling. They encourage imaginative thinking and promote a healthy vocabulary. This is because children put words into context by listening to how they work in a spoken sentence. Also, by listening to audiobooks, children might learn to love a particular story and be encouraged to read the books on which the audio is based.
And let’s not overlook the emotional and mental benefits of audiobooks either; they offer a welcome reprieve for long trips and can even help in relaxation for children who battle to fall asleep.
On another level, audiobooks improve listening skills and concentration, as well as speech and conversational skills. By hearing the stories, children naturally learn enunciation and expression, all of which are so important to understanding a story when they begin to read for themselves.
Finally, they are also exposed to language that might be above their reading age and therefore learn new words that would increase their vocabulary.
Here is a list of 6 audiobooks geared for toddlers – they offer a great place to start this audio journey with them.
Dis n Plesier Ou Tier – Anna Emm Podcast
This is an endearing 35-minute Afrikaans book with short stories about animals. When listening to this book on the Anna Emm Podcast your child will experience a world of rhymes and animal sounds that stir the imagination. It’s the perfect introduction to the animal kingdom for Afrikaans speaking children, bi-lingual children, or parents wanting their little ones to learn/experience a new language.
The Anna Emm Podcast has a variety of payment levels. They are running a special this month which costs only R140 for all downloads, or you can buy tokens which give you the freedom to pick and choose how many downloads you would like to make.
Monkey Puzzle – Julia Donaldson
Put together by the creators behind the much-loved book, The Gruffalo, Monkey Puzzle is an 18-minute story about a little monkey searching for his mom. A kind little butterfly offers to help. As they search the jungle, they meet many different animals and finally find his dad who knows exactly where she is. It’s a beautifully illustrated, colourful book, which also includes a song (perfect for little ones) and a read-along track for older children.
Available on Audible along with many of Julia Donaldson’s books. Audible is an Amazon account and there’s a monthly fee of R260,98 ($14,95). Audible also offers a 30-day free trial. The Julia Donaldson Collection is also available on CD at Takealot for R399.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle
Brown Bear is rated with 5 stars on Audible/Amazon. It’s one of my children’s favourite books and is truly one of the most loved children’s books of all time (with over 7 million copies in print). It’s now available as a 11-minute long audiobook narrated by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Brown Bear was written to help toddlers associate colours and meanings to objects. The rhythm of the book is soothing and repetitive which brings a sense of calmness to the listening experience.
Available on Audible for free with your 30-day free trial.
Songs and Stories of Africa – An audio CD
This wonderful collection of African songs and stories is perfect for toddlers with its vibrant sounds and engaging beats. Songs and Stories of Africa is narrated by one of South Africa’s most popular storytellers, Gcina Mhlophe. For some of the stories and songs, she is joined by her daughter Nomakhwezi Becker as well as some members from the children’s choir at Intakemazolo H.P. School in Hammarsdale.
Gcina has appeared in theatres around the world. Much of her work has been translated into other languages and she has travelled extensively in Africa, and globally, giving highly sought-after storytelling workshops.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
One morning a very hungry caterpillar woke up and started to eat his way through the week. He ate everything from fruits to sweet treats. After a while, his tummy started to hurt and he wrapped himself into a cocoon and fell asleep, only to wake up as a beautiful butterfly.
An all-time favourite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the perfect short story (2-3 minutes) for little ones. Not only does it introduce the life cycle of a butterfly, but it also teaches healthy eating, days of the week and counting to 5, which is a good starting point for children aged between 1 and 3 years.
This classic is a great starting point for children to start questioning their surroundings as they get older. It poses questions like, “Why was his tummy sore?”; “Why is a butterfly so colourful?”; “What is a cocoon?”, for them to consider.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is also available on Audible for R121 or free with your 30-day free trial.
Unicorn – Kelly Oriard & Callie Christensen
A dreamy 6-minute book written about a little unicorn that is not quite sure where she fits in. Is she a donkey, a horse, or a deer? Unicorn is a delightful story that explores how being authentic is more important than being the same as everyone else. It teaches social and emotional skills such as bravery, friendship, and how important it is to be yourself.
Unicorn is available on VOOKS, an interactive reading and audio platform that animates children’s books.
For just $4,99 (R87) your child can explore the world of books in both visual and audio format. The first month is free.
With these 6 helpful places to start, there has never been a better time to explore the world of audiobooks with our children. Let them help you browse and choose; these audiobooks are sure to create a love of literature within your little ones.
Jacqui Bester is a homeschool mom to 5 children. She holds formal qualifications, and has years of experience, in the fields of education and psychology. She is the former co – editor of the Citizen’s online parenting platform and her writing has been featured internationally. Jacqui blogs about her day to day adventures, and misadventures over at One Messy Mama.