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How My Children Listen to Audiobooks

When I launched Raising Readers a couple of weeks ago, the number one question I got was “What devices do your children listen to audiobooks on?”

I am a massive fan of audiobooks for children and I want to make it as easy as possible for my girls to listen on a daily basis.

How my children listen to audiobooks

Both of my older girls have cheap CD players that we picked up at Target or Walmart – this one has medium reviews, but it’s been going strong for years at our house, despite lots of not-so-careful handling.

I showed the girls how they worked a few times and then they were able to use them on their own.

Our library has a decent book on CD collection so every time we visit the library we pick up a stack of new ones that they can listen to in their rooms during quiet time or while they work on puzzles at the dining room table.

We also usually have a book on CD in the car that we listen to while we run errands or do the school drop-off and pick-up. I like this to be a book that they’ve listened to before since one or more of them isn’t always in the car and that way if they miss something, they still know the basic plot and can follow along.

Or we pick a book that’s reasonably episodic (like Beverly Cleary’s books) so that if you miss a chapter, it doesn’t matter too much.

I’ll also download an audiobook to the Libby app on my phone and I can connect that to the car stereo, so we have a few other options.

We also own three tablets and each of them has the Libby app or Overdrive app downloaded to it which syncs to your library card and lets you check out free audiobooks from your library’s digital collection.

The girls are allowed to use them during quiet time, but they know if they use the tablets for anything other than listening to audiobooks, they’ll lose them for a few days (Ella did it one time back in 2014, lost her listening privileges for a day, and I’ve never had trouble with either girl since).

Ella knows how to navigate the app by herself at this point and can check out audiobooks for children, although we often sit down together and pick out a new set of things to listen to.

Ani doesn’t yet know how to check things out, so once a week or so, I’ll help her choose about ten new books. She likes a mix of picture books and chapter books, and she’ll listen to them each a couple of times before returning them and asking for a new set.

Star, who is 2.5, doesn’t yet listen on her own, but she loves listening to audiobooks in the car while we drive (she LOVED Mitch and Amy and Ellen Tebbits this past month).

I also like listening on the tablets because it’s easy to move them around – Ani will often bring one of them upstairs and sit on the couch listening while I make dinner or fold laundry, or Ella will set up a tablet on the table while she works on a puzzle.

The girls each have a set of headphones (these ones which have a volume limit so they don’t hurt their ears) but truthfully, they probably only listen via headphones about 10% of the time. Most of the time, they just let the tablet or CD player run while they listen nearby.

Bart and I are both huge audiobook fans (we share an Audible membership), so it’s been fun for us to see the girls love audiobooks as much as we do, plus it’s been delightful to listen along with them around the house or as we drive.

Do you have other questions about audiobooks for children? I’m happy to try to answer!

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  • Reply Paige Flamm September 11, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I feel like when we read books out loud to Jay there is a 50/50 chance that he’s actually paying attention and we have to talk through the book as we’re reading to keep him on track with the storyline. Do you feel like you had that problem with your girls at the beginning? I feel with audiobooks he would get so caught up in whatever else he was going and would zone out of the book entirely. Or is this something that’s addressed in raising readers?

  • Reply Jill September 11, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    What’s the difference between Libby and Overdrive? They look nearly identical to me…. but maybe I’m just missing something.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw September 12, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Libby is made by Overdrive and I’m not really sure why they’ve created a separate app instead of just updating the Overdrive app, but I think the Libby app is MUCH better than Overdrive. I can check things out on all my cards without having to constantly log in or log out and it adds checked out items to my shelf without me having to go in and add them to my bookshelf. And I can easily make wishlists and see how long until my holds come up. Basically, I think it’s significantly better in almost every way.

  • Reply Casey Ann September 12, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Our local library is now using Hoopla Digital for their digital content. I am really enjoying the app. My 5 year old is a big fan of Fancy Nancy, and they have a great selection of her books.

    The upside, there are no waiting times for audiobooks. The downside, there is a set about of books for the month. If your library allows for 5 loans, it’s 5 for the calendar month, and that’s it. Thank you for the great post!

  • Reply Amelinda September 13, 2017 at 10:57 am

    My girl is 2.5 and she’s never listened to an audio-book, but she definitely LOVES to be read to and often follows along with the story (reciting words on the page out of memory). Do you have any recommendation on how to introduce her? We spend 30min each way to/from daycare so we have PLENTY of car time where I could play them!

  • Reply Liza September 13, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks for explaining Libby and Overdrive. I have loved Overdrive but caution people I think can be hard to work sometimes. I’ll have to try Libby! At what age would you recommend kids starting to listen to audiobooks? Or maybe – what are the youngest reading level audiobooks? at this point my 5 month old isn’t listening to my books haha!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw September 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      I agree about Overdrive – super useful, but not the most intuitive. Libby has made my life a thousand times easier. My girls have all started listening to picture books on audio or short story collections around 2 and then graduated to chapter books around 4.

  • Reply Lara Shoup June 1, 2018 at 10:53 am

    I just started using libby but was surprised they didn’t have a very big selection of children’s audiobooks, mainly just tweens and up. Am I missing something?

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw June 1, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      It depends on your library system – Libby and Overdrive are just the platforms, but your library has to buy the actual digital books for the collection. But most library systems will let you recommend books to add!

  • Reply Free Audio Books: 10 places to find classics and new releases - Everyday Reading August 13, 2018 at 12:44 pm

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