Your Guide To Using Audiobooks for Kids

Updated: May 16, 2019
Sick of handing your kids the tablet for screen time? Try audiobooks instead. They're perfect after a long day when the kids just won't go to bed or when traveling. Here are a few of our favorite audiobook resources for families.
dad reading and son listening to audiobook

Have you tried replacing screen time with audiobooks in your household? Listening to audiobooks is such a fun and educational way to provide your children with some of the best aspects of screen time while removing some of the screen time features that we do not enjoy as parents. Plus, audiobooks come in very handy as a parenting tool (think distraction, inspiration, and always accessible non-screen-time entertainment!) as well as a healthy activity for the entire family to enjoy together. Here’s how:

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Audiobooks make travel so much easier

If listening to “Are we there yet?” over and over throughout the course of a road trip or handing your child a device where she will stare intensely at a screen for several hours doesn’t sound like your idea of an ideal travel experience, you need to give audiobooks a try. You can make it a family experience by playing the audiobook through your car speakers and choosing a story that would appeal to everyone. It makes the drive much more enjoyable for the parents too. It’s also nice to be able to hit pause and discuss the story together. Ask for predictions, find out who your child’s favorite character is and why, and learn what parts of the story your little one identifies with.

If you can’t imagine finding a story that would appeal to the whole family, you can always go the route of headphones for the kids and individual devices to play the audiobooks. Either way, your family can look out the window instead of down at screens and avoid too much overstimulation. This is also a huge help for kids who get carsick and need to avoid staring at a book or a screen.

Audiobooks make chore time appealing

Although we want to make sure our kids learn responsibility, we can empathize with the boredom that comes along with activities like folding laundry and cleaning your room. Putting on an audiobook can make even the most mundane chores relaxing and even enjoyable. The time passes quickly and the work gets done when your imagination is being stimulated by a story. You may find that it’s much easier to entice your children into doing their chores when you let them know that they can listen to a story or pick up where they left off in the midst of an engaging audiobook.

Audiobooks help with bedtime

Bedtime rituals can feel like one of the best parts of parenting. The snuggles, stories, and whispered conversation feel magical. That is until you really need to get going to finish some work or want to finally put your feet up in silence for a few minutes and your little one simply won’t let you leave. Or you do leave and then continuously get called back in to give one more back rub, tell one more story, bring one more drink of water, etc.? This is where audiobooks come in for the win.

Listening to a story leaves your child with comfort and a directed way to use her imagination that doesn’t involve monsters under the bed (as long as you pick the right book). There’s no blue light being emitted from a screen or bright light left on for reading to keep her awake. The best part is that you can set the sleep timer on her audiobook to make sure your little one listens long enough to be soothed, but not for so long that she either falls asleep and misses a chapter or misses her window to fall asleep.

Here are a few of our favorite audiobook resources for families:

Epic

Epic is a digital library for kids aged twelve and under which gives your family access to books (e-books and audiobooks), educational quizzes, videos, and more. You can try the first thirty days for free and then decide if you would like a monthly subscription. It’s easy to find appropriate audiobooks as they are organized by age and topic. You can create four profiles so recommendations and options will always be waiting for all of the children in your family.

Check out Epic here. (Be sure to check in with your child’s teacher as schools often have a discount code available to share with parents!)

The Library

Check out your local library’s web site to see which free app they offer so you can easily access multiple audiobooks at once simply by signing in with your library card. Our library uses two apps called Libby and Overdrive, and they are especially helpful when we’re on the go. If we start a road trip and realize we forgot an audiobook or if my children need a little something different to help them fall asleep or relax when we travel, I simply filter the search feature on the app to only show children’s audiobooks that are available right now and I can quickly find a list of fantastic options.

You can also borrow audiobook players from the library which come loaded with a specific book. This is a helpful option if you don’t want the audiobook to play on a device that even has a screen. You just plug in your child’s own headphones and let them manage the listening experience from there.

Audible

Audible is Amazon’s audiobook subscription service, and it literally offers millions of options. Everyone in your household will be able to find audiobooks to love on this app, and this is especially helpful when your family has their hearts set on listening to a specific book that might not be available from the library at that time. While Epic is perfect for storybooks and shorter children’s books, Audible is ideal for listening to longer novels or for collecting a series of audiobooks, as well as books that you know you’ll want to listen to again and again.

Check out Audible here.

Curious World

Did you know curious children not only do better in school, but go on to become lifelong learners? The Curious World app, a sister company of FamilyEducation, has a huge selection of books for kids featuring popular characters like Curious George and Arthur. Your subscription includes personalization for up to four children. Every book is expertly curated to match their age and interests.

Get it in thein the app store.

Once your family gets into audiobooks, you may find that family screen time habits begin to change for the better. It’s also a wonderful way to nourish a love for reading and creativity and using imagination. Happy listening!

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