Despite its popularity, this was not a series that I grew up with, and so I’m reading/listening to it for the first time along with my 5 year old daughter. Whenever people give audiobook recommendations, Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in the semi-autobiographical series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is always a top suggestion. So I felt like we had to try it.
There are nine books in the series. We haven’t gone through them all yet, but they are:
I can definitely see why they are so beloved. My daughter was fascinated by how Laura and her homesteading family made their own butter and cheese, hunted, and collected honey from a beehive. Laura’s life as a pioneer girl is just so interesting and beautifully described. As for the audiobook, narrator Cherry Jones‘s voice has the perfect twang, and overall it’s a wonderful production.
Why I hesitated for long to read this series was because of the overt racism toward First Nations people, especially in the subsequent books.
I needed time to commit and prepare, time to listen with my daughter and pause the story as needed, and time to have some frank discussions with her. I still wrestle with what to say, and I know it won’t be the last time we have to talk about a problematic classic, but hopefully we can still use these books for some teachable moments.
I have to remember that my oldest is only five. But there are so many epic books I can’t wait to introduce her to, like the Harry Potter series and The Golden Compass. And of course, this beloved award-winning series by Lloyd Alexander, set in a magical land loosely based on Welsh mythology.
The characters of Taran, Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi, and Doli, are all my old friends. These books were my security blanket.
Needless to say, I was excited to find the audio version narrated by James Langton, which doesn’t disappoint. I also finally learned how to say their names correctly!
So I’m actually embarrassed by how much I was entertained by this collaborative adventure series (speaking as a grown adult, and not because I enjoyed this as a child like some of the other children’s books I’ve reviewed).
Rated for age 9+ and definitely not for young kids as there’s violence, murder, and mean language. But despite having a completely unrealistic story line and unnecessary merchandising, the series was quite thrilling and fun.
The plot centers on two orphaned siblings, Amy and Dan, who are a part of the Cahill family, the most influential family in the world! *insert eye roll* However this leads to lots of incidental learning about historical figures and different countries.
Amy and Dan must compete with their extended family members to gather the 39 clues in order to solve an ancient family mystery.
The series is written by a number of different authors, such as Rick Riordan, and is narrated by David Pittu, who does a nice job. Check this out at your library if you’re looking for not too serious, popcorn-y entertainment.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was a favourite of mine growing up.
I love the humour and play on words that fill this book, which is about a bored young boy name Milo who enters the fantastic Kingdom of Wisdom by way of a magical tollbooth. In this strange land you can literally get lost in the Doldrums, or jump to Conclusions. Guess what, he doesn’t stay bored for long!
Actor David Hyde Pierce is on point as the narrator of this quirky book!
I so wanted to share these beloved stories with my daughter earlier on in our listening journey, but there are some potentially scary elements, so I had to wait. Finally put on a couple of the shorter stories recently, and it was love!
All of Roald Dahl‘s books have this wonderful dark humour that I adore. We haven’t listened to everything yet, but so far so good!
Start with the Roald Dahl Audio Collection (read by the author!) and go on from there. I found most of them at my local library.
My personal favourite is The Witches but it can be a little intense for younger listeners. The movie still gives me chills too!
The name says it all – it’s a science podcast for kids!
Tumble is another excellent free podcast for the young scientist. Hosts Lindsay and Marshall interview guest scientists on each episode, in a fun way that brings each topic to life. They cover many a kid-friendly subject. Like poop and ninjas.
If you like Radiolab, you just might love Tumble for your children. Wonderful listening for the whole family!