Today I thought I would share a batch of mini book reviews of the audiobooks I’ve been reading with my children over the past few months. Listening to audiobooks together with my children has been a delight! BUT more on that in a later post 🙂
*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: Frog and Toad (Frog and Toad #1 – 4) by Arnold Lobel, Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh #1) by A.A. Milne, Matilda by Roald Dahl, My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, and Amelia Bedelia (Audio Collection) by Peggy Parish
» Frog and Toad (Frog and Toad #1 – 4) by Arnold Lobel
Recommend to: younger children aged 4-7 years old; fans of animal stories
This collection of Frog and Toad stories was the perfect little book to dip our toes into listening to audiobooks together as a family. Since my youngest is 5, I wanted to start with an audiobook that was short & very easy to follow. I wanted to gauge how well she was able to listen to an audiobook & follow along with the story.
This book is the perfect audiobook to listen to with younger children! If you are thinking about crossing the bridge from picture books to short chapter books with your child, this is a great place to start. I had my doubts about my 5 year-old’s ability to listen to an audiobook, but she kept up just fine. I made sure to stop frequently to check her comprehension.
Frog and Toad is a feel-good book that the whole family can enjoy. The stories are simple enough for younger children to understand, but still entertaining for every age. We really enjoyed the dry humor of Frog and Toad, and found ourselves laughing at Frog & Toads antics. It was a delight to read and amused us all, even the 12-year-old.
» Winnie-the-Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh #1) by A.A. Milne
Recommended to: children aged 7-9 years old; fans of classic children stories
Themes: friendship & silliness
This one was not as big of a hit as our first read together book. I think this has to do with it being published in the 1920s & the writing style. The dialogue could be very long-winded at times, which caused both my kids to lose interest.
This book was a bit more challenging for my 5-year-old to follow because of the narrative structure. The portions with Pooh & friends in the Hundred Acre Wood that are of told in 3rd person were easier for her to understand, but the portions where the narrator is telling the story to Christopher Robin were confusing for her.
Let’s talk about the audiobook format. I really think audiobook, or at least the version we listened to narrated by Peter Dennis, is NOT the way to go with this book. For one, the music in between chapters was WAY too long. I’m all for a little music to break up chapters & enhance the story, but it did not work here. I also found Dennis’ narration a a bit overdone at times. The way Dennis snorts after every word Piglet says was WAY too much. We found it very disruptive to the story, and frankly it was annoying. I’m wondering if I would have acquired the physical copy with illustrations and read the book aloud myself if we would have enjoyed this book more.
Since I fondly remember watching the Disney adaptation as a kid, I can say that it was very true to the story. Aside from the story where Rabbit comes up with the idea to kidnap Rue (I can see why that one didn’t make the adaptation lol) I recognized most of the stories.
Overall, this was a nostalgic read for me, but not a big hit with my kids.
» Matilda by Roald Dahl
Recommended to: children aged 7 – 11 years old; book lovers; underdog story lovers
Themes: justice, importance of education, loyalty, cleverness, and unconventional family
This was my first time reading Matilda, and I was so glad I got to experience it with my kids. I was familiar with the story since I’ve seen the wonderful film adaptation that came out in the 90s, so there was definitely some nostalgia feels. We listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Kate Winslet, and we highly recommend it! Kate does a wonderful narration, which wasn’t surprising at all.
I feel like one of the best parts about Matilda, is that at its core it is an “underdog story.” From the very beginning, Matilda is basically on her own since her parents are not interested in caring for her. Matilda learns to care for herself and even teaches herself to read. Once she starts school, she must go up against her principal, the formidable Ms. Trunchbull. Since Matilda is just a small child, she must use her intelligence to out-wit Ms. Trunchbull.
How could I write a review for Matilda and not mention Miss Honey? Miss Honey is such a lovely character. She is basically the perfect elementary school teacher: she’s kindhearted, warm, and cares deeply about her students. Miss Honey is the first adult that takes notice of Matilda and her special abilities. The friendship that develops between Matilda and Miss Honey is charming.
Matilda is what I like to call a “bookworm’s delight.” Matilda discovers a magical place: the library. She sets off devouring one book after another until she’s made her way through all the children’s book and moves on to adult books. I adored Matilda’s thirst for books & knowledge. Books become Matilda’s escape from her dreadful family life. Dahl perfectly captures the essence of what it means to love books.
The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She traveled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.
Matilda is one of those books where child and adult readers of this book will have very different take-aways. My kids thought it was awesome that Matilda was so independent & even able to walk to the library alone as a 5-year-old child. They also liked the idea of Matilda getting even with the adults in her life that had done her wrong – her father & Ms. Trunchbull. As an adult, my heart broke for Matilda and the neglect she suffers from her parents and principal.
The ending to this book is heartwarming and will give you all the feels.
Matlida was a bit over my 5-year-old’s listening level. I think one thing that hindered her in particular was the fact that Roald Dahl was a British author, thus she was unfamiliar with the slang. To offset this, I paused the audiobook often to help go over what was happening in the story. After we finished listening to the book, I rented the film adaptation from the library and we enjoyed watching the movie together as well 🙂
» My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Recommended to: younger children aged 4-7 years old; fans of animal stories; fans of the picture book The Gruffalo
Themes: courage, cleverness, and adventure
This book was listed in The Read-Aloud Handbook as a good book to read-aloud with younger children, so I gave it a go via audiobook with my 5-year-old.
If you have a 5 or 6-year-old that is ready to cross over from picture books to short/simple chapter books, this is an excellent book to start with. Like I mentioned, we read this via audiobook, however after reading some of the reviews, print form may be the way to go with this one as many of the reviews mentioned the lovely illustrations.
My Father’s Dragon is the story of a boy named Elmer who travels to Wild Island to save a baby dragon that has been enslaved by the animals that inhibit the island. In order to save the baby dragon, Elmer must go up against the animals that are keeping the dragon captive. With each animal that Elmer encounters, he must use his quick wit, and a little ingenuity, to distract the animals in order to continue on with his quest.
If your children enjoy picture books like The Gruffalo, where the main character gets themselves out of trouble by using their cleverness to trick others, then they will really enjoy this book. My daughter highly enjoyed this one, even without the illustrations, and asked to read the other books in the series.
» Amelia Bedelia (Audio Collection) by Peggy Parish
Recommended to: children aged 6 – 9 years old; fans of off-the-wall characters like Anne from Anne of Green Gables or Pippi from Pippi Longstocking
Themes: language/communication, forgiveness, and humor
I listened to this audiobook collection with my 5-year-old daughter. We really enjoyed listening to this collection of stories about Amelia Bedelia.
Amelia Bedelia is the story of a young girl that starts working as a maid for Mr. & Mrs. Rogers. Amelia takes speech very literally, which causes all kinds of problems for the Rogers, for example when Mrs. Rogers asks Amelia to “run an iron over the tablecloth” Amelia takes the iron and walks all over the tablecloth. They quickly get over any of Amelia’s blunders however because as it turns out, she is an excellent baker.
Amelia is such an endearing character that you can’t help but love. Actually, Amelia reminded me a bit of Anne from Anne of Green Gables. mashed up with Pippi from Pippi Longstocking.
Since these stories were first published in the 60’s and 70’s, the language was a bit dated, which made it a bit more challenging for my daughter to totally understand all of Amelia’s misunderstandings, but it was a great opportunity to talk to her about words & phrases with multiple meanings.
Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think?
Comment below & let me know 🙂
5 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: Audiobooks I Read With My Kids (April – June 2019)”
I love Roald Dahl’s books and Matilda is one of my favorites… Good to know the audiobook is worth it as well! I was also a big fan of Winnie The Pooh when I was younger, and it’s a shame the audiobook doesn’t do it justice. I admit I haven’t tried reading the original book before though (or at least I don’t remember doing so).
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I was obsessed with the Amelia Bedelia and the My Father’s Dragons books as a child. However, as a kid I never could get into the Winnie the Pooh books, they kinda went over my head cause of the writing style.
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That’s exactly how my children felt. They didn’t understand the narration style or the old school language. My daughter LOVES the My Father’s Dragon books so far. We are on the second book right now.
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