If your kids are not into Disney, just skip this post.
If they are (like mine, despite my efforts in trying to shift them away from consumerism), by all means, check out this free podcast.
These short episodes basically re-tell the story of the more recent Disney movies, but without the movie. My daughters’ favourites, like Frozen and Moana, are included. Except now I don’t have to turn on a screen. I’m going to call that a win.
Last weekend, it was raining, the kids were sick, and we all just stayed home. For a treat (and a break for me), I put on one of my favourite childhood movies, Disney’s Mary Poppins, and did they ever love it!
It dawned on me that the movie was based on a series of six books by P. L. Travers, and so of course I had to seek out the audiobooks. We’ve been listening to just the first book, narrated by Sophie Thompson, and it’s really different from the movie! First off, Jane and Michael have twin siblings, who were obviously cut from the film. And they have all sorts of different magical adventures with the titular nanny.
While they are missing the fun songs and Julie Andrews, the books are terrific in their own whimsical way, and if I could have a do-over, I would recommending checking out the books before the movie. (This is usually the case with movie adaptations!)
This is a relatively new storytelling podcast that we’re loving right now!
As per their website, Circle Round “tells carefully-selected folktales from around the world with an eye towards inclusivity. Stories are adapted for today’s families into 10 to 20 minute diverse episodes that delve into topics such as kindness, persistence and generosity.”
What’s not to love about that?
Another sweet, funny, British classic. My daughter loved Winnie the Pooh, so it was no surprise when I introduced Paddington that she would love him too. These silly bears are always getting into trouble!
Lots of books in the series by Michael Bond:
Fabulous narrators include British actors Stephen Fry, Hugh Bonneville, and Jim Broadbent.
(I have to say, Stephen Fry’s narration is really softening me up to his version of Harry Potter. Right now I’m still in the Jim Dale narrator camp, but can be persuaded…)
From the team behind our beloved Story Time, this lovely little podcast is all about mindfulness and relaxation. Something we all need more of.
Host Chanel uses short stories to help children calm down by guiding them through visualization and breathing exercises. Perfect for teaching self-regulation.
So I’m including these fantasy books by Daisy Meadows (a pseudonym for a number of different writers) for completion’s sake.
I thought this series, about two friends who help save the seven Rainbow Magic fairies (one book for each fairy), was a little saccharine, but my four year old freaking loved it! Did I mention she had a fairy phase?
And so I followed a book lover’s advice to let your child make their own book choices, no matter how annoying, in the early years so they develop a passion for more stories. Good literary taste will come later – I hope!
The audio series is made much better by narrator Kathleen McInerney, who we’ve listened to and enjoyed in other productions.
I have really fond memories of this book, about a fabulously strong, kind and completely unconventional girl and her two next-door neighbour friends. My 5 year old laughed along too!
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren is just about as absurd and fun as I remember it. Definitely a classic worth listening to.
Narrator Christina Moore is actually a bit no-nonsense sounding, but somehow it works well for this book.