How To Use Audiobooks With Younger Kids


Learning how to use audiobooks with my young kids this summer has been a game changer for our family. And full disclosure, I’d never thought to do this until recently! I always pictured audiobooks being used primarily by older kiddos. When I taught Special Education and English to high school students, audiobooks were used regularly. 

A few months ago, I decided to give them a try with my toddler and preschooler to help with our long drives to and from swimming lessons. They were an instant hit! Now, audiobooks play from my car speakers every chance we get. 

Because of their young ages, I definitely needed to do my research ahead of time to ensure audiobook success. Here’s what I learned about beginning audiobooks with your little ones. 

Why Use Audiobooks With Younger Kids?

We already know that reading with our kids is one of the best things we can do. But what about listening to an audiobook? While audiobooks shouldn’t take the place of snuggling up with an actual book, they do offer some really great benefits for our children. Audiobooks help with vocabulary, model good interpretive reading, introduce new genres, and make a great alternative to screen time. They also help with critical listening and there is a high correlation between reading comprehension and listening comprehension. 

Where To Find Audiobooks For Kids?

You can find audiobooks in the places you would expect like Audible, Overdrive, and Hoopla. But you can also find them on free podcast apps, online, and at your local seacoast library. I started with podcast options for my kids and it worked really well. Our favorites include Stories Podcast, Storytime with K, and Stories for Kids.

What Should My Youngsters Listen To?

Have your little ones listen to anything they’re interested in! Starting with something short, something your kids already know, or listening to a story that rhymes can be helpful.  I started with Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, a story my boys were familiar with and it sparked their curiosity for more. Check out these great audiobook suggestions from our resident librarian! 

Audiobook Tips And Tricks

Try using audiobooks in the car. I found it was an easy place to capture my kiddos’ full attention. 

Encourage other activities while they listen. This is totally okay and in fact, it’s great! Try having your kids color, use play dough, do a puzzle, play with stickers, build with Legos – anything that will keep their hands busy while they listen along.

Let them select their own stories. Show them the different book options and then have them create their own playlists. My toddler loves listening to stories about dinosaurs (Dino Dance by Sandra Boynton is his current favorite). My preschooler is very into the Mr. Men Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves (we’ve probably listened to every single story at this point!). 

Though it’s not necessary, if you do have the actual book on hand, have them follow along while they listen! 

Try using the books and have your kids follow along while they listen!

Don’t put too much pressure on it! If it doesn’t work for your kids the first time you try audiobooks, don’t stress. You can always wait a bit and then try it again later. 

Do you use audiobooks with your young kids? Let us know! 

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I’m a Maine native and after a long stretch of time living in Chicago, I feel lucky to again call the Seacoast my home. I currently live in Kennebunk with my husband, two sons, and a spaniel mix who truly believes he is a furry big brother to our boys. I hold a Master of Education degree from the University of Maine and as a certified English and Special Education teacher, a passion of mine has always been helping students and connecting them to reading and writing. Free time is best spent in the sunshine with family and friends, curled up with a good book, eating my husband’s incredible cooking, or creatively writing for the kids in my life. Being a mom is the most challenging and amazing job I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.