Does anyone still listen to CD's?! Only us?! I feel like we might be the only ones!
At home we have the Spotify app for listening to music, and we listen to audio books using the Borrowbox app (and very occasionally Audible, if we're really keen on a book that we can't find elsewhere). But, I haven't yet solved the technical challenge of listening to these apps in the car, so we are still listening to CDs, and these are our favourites.
Raffi is a Canadian singer songwriter, and has been a favourite of mine since I was a little girl. We still listen to the old copied tape my American family gifted us when Bean and I go home to visit Granny in Wales, but when Bean was a baby I bought a few of his audio CDs. His albums include lots of original, simple and catchy folk songs, as well as wonderful renditions of some classic children's favourites, such as 'Over in the Meadow' and 'This Little Light of Mine'. I sang all these songs on repeat to Bean when she was a baby, and so they have become as much a part of her childhood as they were mine. We sang the song 'Thanks a Lot' from the Baby Beluga album at her naming ceremony, so that song will always hold a very special place in our hearts.
Raffi's Box of Sunshine is a collection of three of his most popular albums; Rise and Shine, One Light One Sun and Everything Grows. All are wonderful, timeless and perfect for the under 3's, while a pleasure to listen to for all ages. They are also ideal for slightly older children who would like to learn some songs by heart, and with such a wide repertoire you can often find something to fit in with a specific theme. I taught the song 'Baby Beluga' to my Reception class (age 4-5 years) when we were learning about sea creatures and they loved it.
One of the reasons that you may never have heard of Raffi is because he has consistently refused all commercial endorsement offers. His company has never directly advertised or marketed to children, as he advocates for a child's right to live free from commercial exploitation. You can read more about his work on 'Child Honouring' here. I admire his work a lot.
Audio Books for the Under 3's
Our favourite audio books for little ones are Owl Babies, We're Going on a Bear Hunt, A Basketful of Kipper and Maisy Goes Camping. When I was childminding four under 3's, we'd spend time reading the stories together at home, until the children were really familiar with them. Then, on our way out and about on short journeys in the car, these stories were the perfect length for keeping the children settled and happy until we reached our destination.
We discovered Mr Roberelli when Bean was around 5 years old. The name might suggest that it's a one man band, but they're actually a trio of singer songwriters, based in New Zealand, and they write the most inventive, quirky songs. Some of the lyrics have had the children here in stitches. With titles such as 'Never Lie on a Ukelele' and 'He's Lost His Marbles', you can only begin to imagine the content. Silly, catchy and clever. Perfect for the 3-7 age bracket.
I'm not sure if it's still possible to purchase these older albums on audio CD. I wasn't able to find an affiliate link for you. They have at least five albums available to stream, and another in the pipeline.
The Julia Donaldson Collection
Our favourite audio CD collection for the 3-7 age bracket has been The Julia Donaldson Collection. Bean still enjoys them at almost 10, as we've been revisiting them in recent weeks with my little mindee. In my opinion, the audio versions of her stories have been really well done, with clear, engaging narration (animal voices, sound effects etc.) and musical accompaniment. Each story has a song too, which I've been known to find myself singing along to with gusto!
If you're not a fan of the Julia Donaldson books, then you may find the audio versions equally offensive, but my experience has been that young children love them. Perhaps one for your child to listen to with a set of headphones?!
Putumayo Kids Series
We're big fans of the Putumayo Kids series. This series of audio CDs are a great introduction to world music for children. There are so many to choose from, but we can vouch for the three that we have purchased, Kids World Party, African Playground (bought for our Africa Project) and World Playground, which are all excellent. If you are learning about a specific country, these CDs can be a great way to bring your project alive. You can find the entire collection here.
While we're talking about lively music, suitable for a party, we love Ziggy Marley's Family Time. It's been such a long time since we've had any type of family get together or party, but this one is great for cranking up the volume and is guaranteed to get everybody on the dance floor, regardless of age. Feel good, family friendly reggae music for all generations.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I know that I've mentioned it before in one of my monthly newsletters, but we love the audio book for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, read by Roald Dahl himself. It's just such a brilliant story, with so much appeal for young children. The entire story can be listened to in about 40 minutes, so it's a great one for slightly longer journeys. Recommended for age 6+.
Barefoot Books Story Collections
These were an absolute gem of a find at a car boot sale one summer. I was only intending to buy the one, Grandmother's Stories, but the seller insisted that I needed them all, and she was right! These stories are our current favourites. Each CD features four stories, so eight in total for each collection. They're great stories, beautifully told, but definitely with a slight edge to them, so not for the very young or super sensitive.
In one of the stories from Tales of Old Ireland, for example, an evil stepmother puts a curse on the children turning them into swans. When the curse is finally broken, after 900 years of misery, the children all die 'because they're 900 years old'. Bean is quite a sensitive soul, but at 7 years old she wasn't too fazed by this, saying simply, 'what a sad story'. If you like an Irish accent, then the voices of Malachy Doyle and Maura O'Connell alone would be enough to warrant a listen.
Similarly, Shakespeare's Storybook features many of the grim plotlines you would expect to find. However we've found them to be a great introduction to the work of Shakespeare, alongside the CBeebies adaptations.
Our favourite story of all is that of The Midwife and the Djinn, a story from Senegal. Old Fatu is awoken in the middle of the night by a djinn, who whisks her away to help deliver his wife's SIX babies. This story has inspired a lot of play here, as well as a whole winter of eating spicy peanut soup! This story is from Grandmother's Stories, which would be my first choice out of the three, if I had to pick.
If you're not familiar with Barefoot Books, I highly rate them. Below I've shared the Barefoot Books 'mission statement', as well as the blurb from the inside cover of each CD. I honestly can't recommend these more highly, for children age 6+.
And, lastly, Bean will be receiving the Michael Morpurgo Collection from a family member for her birthday, which I'm hoping will be a lovely new addition. Once a week we are driving 45 minutes each way to Farm School, so I was looking for something new for us to listen to on our journey. I hope I've made the right choice.
Which are your children's favourite audio books? Do you have any that you come back to again and again? I'd love to hear your recommendations.
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.