Series – Wayside School

We listened to this audiobook collection on a road trip from Vancouver, BC to Portland, OR, about a six hour drive one way. It was perfect. Charmingly read by the author, Louis Sachar, this zany series kept us all entertained for hours on the road.

The students are weird, the teachers are weird, and everything they do is a little bit strange. My kid (even at age 4) loved it – but older children and adults (including my husband!) will definitely appreciate the humour too.

They have definitely stood the test of time; I remember reading these books when I was a kid!

The collection contains three books:

  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School
  • Wayside School is Falling Down
  • Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger

The chapters are fairly short, and can almost stand alone, especially the first book. Great for both home and car!

Podcast – NPR Wow in the World

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If you and your kids like science, check out Wow in the World from National Public Radio. NPR makes dozens of different podcasts (I wish I had time to listen to them all), and have recently put out their first ever family-friendly podcast looking into different stories in science and technology.

Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz are the two funny and fully-experienced podcast hosts. And the podcast is definitely free!

Recommended for ages 5 to 12. I’ve checked out a few episodes and think my daughter (at age 4) is just slightly young for it right now, but I can’t wait to start listening with her soon!

Series – Nate the Great

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I definitely read these when I was a kid!

If you’re into mystery, then check out the Nate the Great series of books by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, about a pint-size version of Sherlock Holmes.

I introduced them to my daughter at age 4, and they have been a big hit. We love the weird character of Rosamond and her four cats! The audiobooks are narrated by John Lavelle, who does a great job with all the voices.

There are four collections, each containing 4 to 8 stories. I could find most of the volumes through our library.

Author – Robert Munsch

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There is no kid on earth who can resist Robert Munsch. He’s one of those delightful authors who reads his own stories. If your kids have never heard the audio versions of his classic books, they are in for a treat! And you can listen to many of them free on his website!

Our favourites are:

If you have the physical books, you can definitely read along too. I found these to be great listen-in-the-car stories, as they are nice and short. I sometimes risk a tantrum if I try to turn the car off mid-story.

Two collections are also available if you want to listen to them all in a row. Check if there’s a copy in your library!

Inspiration Lab

More from the library. This one’s for local readers.

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So my mom kept my first audiobook set from the 1980s!

It’s a preschool boxed set called Early World of Learning. The stories are about a rabbit named Amy, a monkey named Zak, and their 26 Alphabet Pals. The set included 10 audio cassette tapes and 19 books (unfortunately we lost the Amy and Zak puppets).

I definitely remember listening to and “reading” along when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I loved this series. I couldn’t wait to share this piece of nostalgia with my own daughter. The only problem was finding a cassette player.

Cue the Inspiration Lab at the Vancouver Public Library. If you want to digitize old cassette tapes, VHS tapes, or photographs; if you want to record or create your own audiobooks/podcasts or eBooks, this is the place to do it.

I used the audio cassette tape station to convert my set into MP3 files, which I can now take with me anywhere. It did take me 6 hours as the recording took place in real time. But the results are worth it!

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And my daughter now loves Amy and Zak too!

Podcast – Sparkle Stories

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Another wonderful podcast to check out is Sparkle Stories!

Just super sweet, lovely stories. I find the stories to be slower-paced, calmer, and great for bed-time or quiet-time listening. I like how many of them are set in natural settings, and teach really nice life lessons. Never anything inappropriate for really young listeners.

You can find lots of stories for free through their podcast, or on the website here.

Or subscribe to access their entire library. The cost is $15 per month, and lets you both stream and download. There is a short 10-day free trial.

I also love the inspiring arts and crafts tutorials, and recipes, that accompany many of the stories. This one is definitely a keeper!