How Adding Audiobooks and Other Audio to Your Library Can Really Help Your Homeschooler
You are going on a long road trip, so you go to the library and grab an audiobook to listen to in the car with the family. The audiobook certainly helps pass the time, and you may even enjoy the story, but is that all? No! Audiobooks can do so much more for you and your family, and they can absolutely be an important addition to your homeschool. In fact, regardless of content, most audiobooks can be educational.
Find out all about the benefits of audiobooks and how to access them below:
|Audiobooks for Elementary Students|
*This post contains affiliate links. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission. Although many of the resources listed here are free, those marked with a $ have a cost or require a fee/subscription in order to access the full range of materials.
Benefits of Educational Audiobooks
Audiobooks can bring back memories of cuddling up while a family member reads to you, can keep the tradition of family read-alouds alive when your kids get older, and can save you and other family members time multitasking as you listen. Audiobooks are convenient and can make a road trip more fun. However, did you know that there are also real academic benefits associated with using audiobooks?
According to Storyline Online, an award-winning literacy website that streams videos with celebrities reading children’s books, “Reading aloud to children has been shown to improve reading, writing and communication skills, logical thinking and concentration, and general academic aptitude, as well as inspire a lifelong love of reading.” Audiobooks can capture some of those same benefits as reading aloud, especially when families listen and discuss together in a shared literary experience.
The Audio Publishers Association claims, “Audiobooks build and enhance vital literacy skills such as fluency, vocabulary, language acquisition, pronunciation, phonemic awareness, and comprehension—skills that often boost reading scores.” The Association continues to list other benefits as well, such as the development of critical thinking and active listening skills and an increase in auditory stamina and focus. Those who listen to audiobooks can also tackle more complex texts, typically two years above their reading skills, and broaden their horizons to new genres.
Audiobooks can be used in many different ways in your homeschool. You may find that audiobooks recapture potentially lost educational time when you are traveling together or when you—the parent—are sick or have other obligations. You may use audiobooks as an alternate literacy experience or to deepen learning on a topic, or you may simply encourage your child to access audiobooks in free time, especially in the summer when reading progress can be lost but kids still need a break from more traditional schooling methods.
Audiobooks for Elementary Students
For your young child, audiobooks may be what sparks interest in reading. They may be used to increase literacy experiences beyond your bedtime read-alouds and may even provide an alternative space for learning about all kinds of things. Here are some ideas for audiobooks and ways to use them with your elementary child:
365 Bedtime Stories $
By Disney Press (Author), Greg Tremblay (Narrator)
While you don’t want to replace reading to your child, you may want an alternative just in case or to add to your own read alouds? “Listen along as Woody and the gang go on a campout; Anna, Elsa, and Olaf have a slumber party; Pongo puts his puppies to bed; and more! With one story for every day of the year, bedtime has never been so much fun.”
Amelia Bedelia Audio Collection $
By Peggy Parish (Author), Suzanne Toren (Narrator)
Focus on vocabulary and multiple meanings of words with this collection! “Amelia Bedelia is the world’s most literal-minded housekeeper, who causes quite a ruckus whenever she’s given a chance. In “Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower,” she arrives with a garden hose and the party is turned into an uproarious mess…. In “Come Back, Amelia Bedelia,” Amelia Bedelia tries her hand at a variety of new jobs after Mrs. Rogers fires her for her muddles.”
Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All $
By Donald Sobol (Author), Greg Steinbruner (Narrator)
Encourage your child to practice logic by solving the case along with Encyclopedia Brown! “Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown stories have been children’s classics for decades. In this installment, the 10-year-old detective uses his vast knowledge and probing questions to expose a muscle-bound scam, a crooked protection racket, a circus frame-up, and other baffling mysteries.”
How To Train Your Dragon $
By Cressida Cowell (Author), David Tennant (Narrator)
Give your child characters to love and food for the imagination! How to Train Your Dragon “chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.”
The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body $
By Joanna Cole (Author), Cassandra Morris (Narrator)
Learn something new each time you listen! “Ms. Frizzle and her class are on the Magic School Bus headed for a museum. They have been studying how the body turns food into energy, and now they are going to see an exhibit on the human body. Things seem fine until they stop for lunch. A strange mishap causes the bus to shrink and then be swallowed! Ms. Frizzle’s class is suddenly inside a real human body!”
Magic Tree House Collection (Books 1-8) $
By Mary Pope Osborne (Narrator, Author)
Start your child reading through listening with the beginning of this educational and engaging series that lets your child visit ancient Egypt, a South American rain forest, the moon, and more! This audio contains the first eight books of the series: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, Pirates Past Noon, Night of the Ninjas, Afternoon on the Amazon, Sunset of the Sabertooth, and Midnight on the Moon.
The Magic Unicorn: Bedtime Stories for Kids $
By Sarah Doll (Author), Joana Garcia (Narrator)
“Does your child have difficulty falling asleep? Are you looking for a fun, soothing way to bond with your kids? Do you want to calm your child down, improve their vocabulary, and listening skills?…. Written for toddlers and pre-adolescent children, each unique story has its own special setting and characters and is filled with lessons that will instill and reinforce powerful life lessons in your kids.”
Tales of Beatrix Potter $
By Beatrix Potter (Author), Nadia May (Narrator)
How about a collection of classics? Listen to the audiobooks, see the movies, and then compare and contrast the two. “This collection of 18 of Beatrix Potter’s charming stories about Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Tittlemouse, and the others have enchanted children for over a hundred years and will surely do so well into the future. Beatrix Potter’s tales were often connected with real places, people, or animals, so each story also includes a brief introductory note about its history.”
The Reluctant Dragon $
By Kenneth Grahame (Author), Anton Lesser (Narrator)
Sometimes listening just for entertainment is enough to instill a love for books! “The Boy lives in a cottage with his mother and father, and the Dragon lives in a cave on the Downs. The Boy is his only friend. The Dragon is not at all the sort of Dragon one might expect to meet, however: he’s polite and friendly.”
Audiobooks for Middle School Students
Middle schoolers may know how to read but may not be motivated to do so. Sometimes, they just need a good story to get them going. Other middle school students may struggle with reading, and audiobooks can help them build fluency (i.e., when they read along) and vocabulary, as well as bring enjoyment through literacy. Here are the beginnings of popular series that just might get your middle school homeschooler hooked:
The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones (Book 1) $
By Rick Riordan (Author), David Pittu (Narrator)
This is not only an exciting adventure, but your child will also learn a bit of geography and history. “What would happen if you discovered that your family was one of the most powerful in human history? What if you were told that the source of the family’s power was hidden around the world, in the form of 39 Clues? What if you were given a choice – take a million dollars and walk away…or get the first Clue? If you’re Amy and Dan Cahill, you take the Clue – and begin a very dangerous race.”
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1) $
By Jeff Kinney (Author), Ramon De Ocampo (Narrator)
Appeal to middle schoolers! “Acclaimed debut author Jeff Kinney brilliantly re-creates the typical humor and logic of middle school boys sidling into adolescence. 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.”
The Dragonet Prophecy: Wings of Fire (Book 1) $
By Tui T. Sutherland (Author), Shannon McManus (Narrator)
Witness your child want to talk about books with this series! “The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy – a foretelling that calls for great sacrifice. Five dragonets are collected to fulfill the prophecy, raised in a hidden cave and enlisted, against their will, to end the terrible war. But not every dragonet wants a destiny.”
Fablehaven (Book 1) $
By Brandon Mull (Author), E. B. Stevens (Narrator)
Unlock this fantasy world and let your child escape through imagination! Then follow this series with any of Brandon Mull’s audiobooks! “For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world….”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1) $
By J.K. Rowling (Author), Jim Dale (Narrator)
This is a great way to “read” a first big book! “A global phenomenon and cornerstone of contemporary children’s literature, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is both universally adored and critically acclaimed…. The inimitable Jim Dale brings to life an entire cast of characters – from the pinched, nasal whine of Petunia Dursley to the shrill huff of the Sorting Hat to the earnest, wondrous voice of the boy wizard himself.”
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 1) $
By Rick Riordan (Author), Jesse Bernstein (Narrator)
Get your reading-resistant kid to start reading (and learn about Greek and Roman mythology)! “Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him?”
A Mutiny in Time: Infinity Ring (Book 1) $
By James Dashner (Author), Dion Graham (Narrator)
Learn a little history through this series! “When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel – a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring – they’re swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course. Now it’s up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks…. First stop: Spain, 1492!”
The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection $
By Beverly Cleary (Author), Stockard Channing (Narrator)
If your child likes to laugh when reading, try this series! “Meet Ramona. She lives on Klickitat Street with her mother, father, and big sister, Beezus. She’s not afraid of anything and is always up to something. And that’s just the beginning…. In this audio collection, join Ramona, one of Beverly Cleary’s most beloved characters, on all her wacky adventures!
A Wrinkle in Time (Book 1) $
By Madeleine L’Engle (Author, Narrator), Hope Davis and others (Narrators)
Begin the classic saga here! “Meg Murray, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract”, which, if you didn’t know, is a wrinkle in time…. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?”
Audiobooks for High School Students
High schoolers may use audiobooks more for their convenience and the ability to multitask. For example, your teen may want to listen to a story and just relax or may choose to play an audiobook while driving to work. Audiobooks can still be engaging and have benefits, just like with adults. Here are some ideas for the types of audiobooks your high school homeschooler may use:
By George Orwell (Author), Benjamin May (Narrator)
Discuss society and politics when your child listens to this classic! “Set in Oceania, one of the three inter-continental superstates that divided the world among themselves after a global war, Orwell’s masterful critique of the political structures of the time, works itself out through the story of Winston Smith…. As much as it is an entertaining read, 1984 is also a brilliant, and more importantly, a timeless satirical attack on the social and political structures of the world.”
Absolutely Everything! A History of the Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention $
By Christopher Lloyd (Author, Narrator)
Does your teen want another way to study history? “Written and narrated by best-selling world history author Christopher Lloyd, this remarkable story (which is far more amazing than anything you can make up) sweeps through natural history with the creation of planet Earth, the beginning of life, the age of dinosaurs, mass extinctions, and the rise of prehistoric humans.”
Eragon (Book 1) $
By Christopher Paolini (Author), Gerard Doyle (Narrator)
Introduce your teen to the inner psyche of a boy who stumbles on opportunity and responsibility! “Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes he is merely a poor farm boy – until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power.”
The Hunger Games: Special Edition (Book 1) $
By Suzanne Collins (Author), Tatiana Maslany (Narrator)
Teens love this dystopian series that explores themes around government, survival, relationships, and more! “In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.”
Lord of the Flies $
By William Golding (Author, Narrator)
Examine group dynamics here! “Get ready for an adventure tale in its purest form, a thrilling and elegantly told account of a group of British schoolboys marooned on a tropical island. Alone in a world of uncharted possibilities, devoid of adult supervision or rules, the boys begin to forge their own society, their own rules, their own rituals. With this seemingly romantic premise, and through the seemingly innocent acts of children, Golding exposes the duality of human nature itself.”
Twilight: The Twilight Saga (Book 1) $
By Stephanie Meyer (Author), Ilyana Kadushin (Narrator)
Teenagers simply love talking about this series—and whether they are on Team Jacob or Team Edward! “Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear.”
The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding Our World and Its Ecosystems $
By Rachel Ignotofsky (Author, Sarah Mollo-Christensen (Narrator)
Looking for another way to understand Earth Science? “The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth explains how our planet works – and how we can protect it – from its diverse ecosystems and their inhabitants to the levels of ecology, the importance of biodiversity, the cycles of nature, and more. Science- and nature-loving listeners of all ages will delight in this utterly charming guide to our amazing home.”
Audiobook Apps and Websites
Where can you get audiobooks? Well, you can certainly purchase individual audiobooks at bookstores and through online vendors. However, if you want more consistent access to audiobooks, there are paid subscriptions where you can get professionally-narrated stories. Using paid apps and websites like these may get you the highest quality of narrations and/or the largest selection of titles:
This is a popular app that provides you with credits to spend monthly and “purchase” audiobooks from a collection of thousands of audiobooks. You can also find Audible Originals and podcasts. There is a monthly subscription and benefits for Amazon Prime members. Subscribe here to get Read Aloud Revival’s updates on Audible deals as they become available.
Get a subscription to access audiobooks, podcasts, articles, listening selections by age level, and more!
Epic Books $
Get the app and pay the monthly subscription to access audiobooks and more. Each homeschooler can have a different profile and keep track of progress.
Google Play Books for Young Adults $
Check out this collection of audiobooks for young adults. You can also search by genre to find just what your tween and teen wants to hear.
Learning Ally $
This collection of audiobooks is designed for kids using audiobooks as an accommodation for reading-based learning differences such as dyslexia. Find over 80,000 classic stories and textbooks, along with other kinds of support and information for your family.
A monthly subscription to SCRIBD gets you unlimited access to books, audiobooks from major publishers, magazines and news, as well as podcasts, sheet music, and other documents.
How to Get Free Audiobooks
You know you can purchase audiobooks directly or through monthly subscriptions, but what is the cheapest way to find audiobooks? If you can get there, one of the best places to find free audiobooks is your local public library. Some libraries have a wide range of titles available (use Library Extension to see immediate availability of materials from your library), but you can always request titles through interlibrary loan if you don’t mind waiting. You may find that some CD’s are scratched (and, in the rare case, missing), but most will be just fine. Be careful, though, because audiobooks may have a shorter loan period; you will want to keep track of due dates in order to avoid fines. Beyond the library, you can also find free audiobooks for students in these ways:
Audiobooks for Kids | YouTube
Don’t be afraid to search YouTube for partial or full audiobooks for kids. You can find everything from picture books like Sulwe and Grumpy Monkey to chapter books like Charlotte’s Web and The Wind in the Willows. Some even include page images as the stories are read!
AudioFile – Sync
Check here for free audiobooks for teens for the summer!
Growler Tapes Audio Adventures
“Growler programs are designed to grab those little ears with the amazing world of kids audio. There are cool kids songs for the very young and exciting, smart audio stories for older children – nourishing treats for the ears that keep kids listening, thinking, and coming back for more. The key to Growler’s unique innovation is the right mix of compelling ideas and exceptional production standards. Growlers are known for sophisticated presentation, intelligent content, and hefty doses of nontraditional thinking – guaranteed to become part of the conversation. Turn off the TV and listen!”
“Hoopla is a groundbreaking digital media service offered by your local public library that allows you to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, or phone – and even your TV! Titles can be streamed immediately or downloaded to phones or tablets for offline enjoyment later. We have hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from, with more being added daily. Hoopla is like having your public library at your fingertips. Anytime. Anywhere.” Signup is free and easy!
Listen to free poetry recordings and audiobooks here. The collection includes digital recordings and MP3 files.
This is a site for free public domain audiobooks. You can listen to any LibriVox audiobooks on your computer, iPod, or other mobile device, or even burn them onto CDs. If you have time, you can volunteer to read audiobooks for the community.
Find a collection of free online stories and poems in MP3 format. Each passage contains an abstract, citation, playing time, and word count, and many also have a reading strategy identified. You can also download the stories and poems as PDFs or print them to have your child read along with the audio tracks.
Because “books should be free,” Loyal Books provides access to free public domain audiobooks & ebooks in a number of genres and languages.
Browse 1,000 free audiobooks on the site that provides “the best free cultural & educational media on the web.” The collection includes mostly classics, and there is also a collection of 150 podcasts to explore.
Explore this collection of over 60,000 audiobooks and stories that you can read online or download in multiple formats. The focus is on older works for which the US copyright has expired.
Other Educational Audio
If your child loves audiobooks, chances are that learning by listening is simply a good fit. Here are some other places to find educational audio for your homeschool:
Audio Memory $
If your child learns well by listening, these educational songs may be just what you need. You can get previews of the videos for free, but you have to purchase to access entire songs.
“Boomerang! is an audio program for kids 6-12. In each hour-long episode, the Boomerang! Kids present stories about big ideas: science, current events, history, economics, poetry, geography, jokes, mysteries and more.” You can order monthly download or CD subscriptions or purchase packages of nine download episodes.
Jim Weiss Storytelling $
Jim Weiss has “told” over 70 stories, giving each character a distinctive voice. Check out his website to see a list of recordings, enjoy a free webinar, and more.
“The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Daytime Emmy®-nominated and award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online®, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations…. Storyline Online is available 24 hours a day for children, parents, caregivers and educators worldwide. Each book includes supplemental curriculum developed by a credentialed elementary educator, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners.”
This collection of free audio stories (not audiobooks) will provide your younger child with listening that is both engaging and educational. You can find original stories, fairytales, stories from classic authors, stories about myths and the world, educational stories, and poems and music.
Regardless of how and how often you use audiobooks and other educational audio in your homeschool, you will see benefits. As with anything, the right mix of materials can really make a difference, and audiobooks should not be overlooked. Enjoy them yourself, too!
Looking for more audio opportunities in your homeschool? Check out our post on podcasts!
Are you using educational audiobooks or other audio in your homeschool? Do you know of a resource that we didn’t list here or an audiobook you would recommend? Let your fellow homeschoolers benefit from your suggestions by posting comments below….