Podcast – Sparkle Stories

sparkle

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!

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Scribd

scribd

Another subscription digital library that’s on my list to try is Scribd.

Scribd gives you access to eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines. Even sheet music! To be honest, I’m not sure how many kid-friendly titles there are, but I like having adult options too.

The cost is $8.99 per month, and includes access to 3 eBooks and 1 audiobook per month from their library of titles that require a credit for full access. There’s also unlimited access to magazines, documents, and other books.

Yes, of course there is a free trial too (30 days free). I can’t give a full review yet, since I haven’t had time to try it, but it looks intriguing. I will re-post once I’ve signed up.

Epic!

epic

This summer, I discovered Epic! It’s a subscription eBook library for kids that offers access to thousands of eBooks, read-to-me books, audiobooks, and videos.

The cost is $7.99 per month, but free for elementary school teachers and librarians. If you happen to be an educator, by all means, get this app! For everyone else, you can also do a one-month free trial, which I am now checking out.

My review. I think this app would be nice to keep if we didn’t already have free access to Overdrive and Tumble Books through our library. Many of the titles overlap. Yes, there are a massive number of eBooks, but my kids are not reading independently yet, and I don’t really want to read to them off a screen. I downloaded the phone app to play audiobooks off of. However, the app does not run in the background (unlike how my other music and podcast apps operate). So the story shuts off if I try to do anything else on my phone or even turn the screen off to save power. Largely because of this, I’m finding I haven’t been using my free trial time as effectively as I’d like. I have played a few of the audio stories off my PC, and that’s been fine. It’s the not-so-great phone app (for me) that’s keeping me from fully recommending it.

There is definitely no harm in signing up for a free month though, and if you don’t have another source for digital audio stories, this might be the subscription for you!

Audible

audible

I’m sure most people have heard of Audible by now. It is the place to purchase and download audiobooks. Real audiobooks are amazing because unlike a CD or MP3, they bookmark exactly where you stop listening, and start at the same spot next time, even if you change to music or a different selection.

I did a promotional trial of Audible last year. While I loved the books that I received, I do think the regular price is a little cost-prohibitive at USD $14.95 per month, which gets you 1 credit (or 1 book choice). I’m in Canada, and our exchange rate right now is awful! If you can wait until the next Amazon Prime day in July, there are typically promotions for new members. If you can’t wait that long, you can always sign-up for a free 30-day trial, and receive two free books as a new member.

ramona

henry

 

 

 

 

 

So what did I get? Feeling thrifty, I decided to go for quantity as well as quality, and found amazing value in one of my favourite children’s authors, Beverly Cleary:

  • The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection contains all 8 books, and clocks in at 19 hours. It is performed by Stockard Channing (best known as Rizzo from Grease), who is spunky and the perfect narrator for this series.
  • The Henry Huggins Audio Collection contains 6 books, and is 15 hours longs. This is performed mostly by Neil Patrick Harris, so awesome as the earnest boy-next-door.

Despite the lengths of these collections, they don’t feel too ambitious because they are broken down into individual books, and then short chapters. My older daughter loved them on first listen at age 4.

Back to Audible, I ended up purchasing three additional discounted credits, and picked up a couple more books on sale. When I tried to cancel my membership the first time, Audible offered me $20 to stay! Another nice feature is you can pause your membership for up to three months, but still see the daily member specials. There are different sales at different times of the year too.

One last thing to check monthly is the free Kindle eBook on the Whispersync for Voice page. It’s a different classic book each month. You don’t need a Kindle or even ever read the eBook, but once you have “purchased” the eBook through Amazon, you can pick up the Audible version for free (or at a huge discount). Not typically books for children, but a great way to add to your own stash.

Eventually though, I did end my membership, but walked away with a nice little collection. I tried to choose books that my library did not carry. I would seriously consider re-joining Audible in the future if the right promotion came along. And I will definitely post about any deals I see in the future!