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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Children's Audio Books

June is the Audio Book month, and now that it is at an end, I wanted to list a few of the recent audio books that have fascinated the kids - both the two- and five- year old - which is quite a difficult thing to manage.

This is not an exhaustive list or a top five of any kind. Just what we managed to get our hands on and thoroughly enjoyed. Having become their personal chauffeur, running Mom's Taxi Service, these audio books have come in very handy, not just to keep them occupied and quiet during commutes, but, to get them to share a common experience and discover/learn in the process, while being thoroughly entertained.

  1. The Fantastic Mr.Fox by Roald Dahl: We read the book a while back and then realized there is an audio version read by none other than Mr.Dahl himself. When I got my hands on it, I was more excited than the kids, naturally.

    "Mama, want yissen misto faax, peese", when strapping him in is itself music to my ears. And, after several repeat listens, when both Ana and Og go about yelling "dang and blast", "bang, bang... bang, bang, bang" imitating Mr.Dahl's attractive accent, while Ana teases Og calling him, "pot-bellied dwarf", and he goes along with it having no clue what that means, it seems like, overall, it is a hit.

  2. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, Puffin Storytime: Madeline needs no introduction. We read the first book a long time ago, then followed up with more Madeline stories. And, when I was looking to get French into the kids' vocabulary, Puffin Storytime's presentation of Madeline seemed like a perfect start.

    This seems quite suited for toddlers who are just beginning to unravel the intricacies of communication/speech - even Oggie picked up a few French words through this, plus some French kids' songs. The presentation is somewhat interactive, pausing appropriately for kids to respond to the narrators. The English and the French intermingling in the presentation is simple and charming.

  3. Jim Copp, Will You Tell me A Story?: Three Uncommonly Clever Tales: This is vintage storytelling, unconventional and irreverent, yet entertaining in a slightly uncomfortable sort of way for my PC-sensitive mind.

    When I read the book to Ana, I went about it in my usual way, and found that it didn't work well. The various fonts and word arrangement really called for something more creative. And when we listened to the audio CD, compiled from original recordings by Jim Copp in the 1950s and '60s, Ana and I were hooked, albeit in a weird sort of way.

    One has to listen to it to understand why it evokes mixed feelings, but leaves us smiling anyway. The various voices, including the kids' singing chorus, was painstakingly recorded by Jim Copp, and the notes on the back of the book explains how he did it. That in itself was inspiring and exhausting to read.

    The tag line is a bit misleading - the stories are clever in the way they were told, but not in the trickster's tales kind of way - just goofy and off-beat. Kate Higgins was Ana's favorite, and then Martha Matilda O'Toole (which I admit is quite cute), but the third one, Ms.Goggins, made me squirm a bit when I let the kids listen to it for the first time. Ana seems fine with it, no adverse emotion as I had expected it might evoke.

  4. Karadi Tales Audio Books: A whole host of titles by this enterprising company, introduced to me via Saffron tree, has become a recent hit with the kids.

    Lizard's Tail, Little Vinayak, The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Blue Jackal... they are all good. At least the ones we've read so far, which are about half a dozen.

    The read-along format and the musical interludes matches Madeline not only in production value but in kid appeal as well. The identifiably Indian music and accent, plus the few Indian words peppered throughout makes this a fun tool for the kids to pick up a few new words here and there, much like they did with Madeline's French words.

  5. arnold lobel owl at home children's book review audio CDArnold Lobel Collection: Having dedicated a post for this, nothing much to add here, except that it is a wonderful CD to engage even a toddler. Ana's and my favorite still remains Owl At home - stories about the sweet yet neurotic owl.

    I suspect Oggie doesn't quite get the whole story, any of the several stories there, but, the bits and pieces he snatches here and there seems to amuse and entertain him.

The trick is to space them out and not wear out their appeal. Once the novelty wears off, the CDs will be discarded from their short attention spans, but, with the many that we managed to borrow from the library and liked - Charlotte's Web, A Bear called Paddington, The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders - and the few that we didn't like - Giraffes Can't Dance, it seems like we have yet some time before we get tired of listening.

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At 8:00 PM, Blogger ranjani.sathish said...

Hey Sheela
Thanks for this wonderful post ! I would like to try some audio CDs too (have not tried much) which will keep their attention. But I don't know if the accent would be a problem for the kids and they might tune out. Karadi rhymes 2, which we have, is a big hit with my 3.7 yr old daughter and she loves singing them (she has got most of the verses). They could not sit and enjoy much the other Karadi audio cds of stories.

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Ranjani, nice to hear about little S's love of Karadi Rhymes... makes me wonder how on earth did I grow up without all these wonderful things?! :)

At 11:01 PM, Blogger ChoxBox said...

They listened to all of Charlotte's Web? Wow! Amazing attention spans for their age! You go supermom!

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Hi Choxie, no, Oggie didn't listen to all of Charlotte's Web, hence it didn't make it to my neatly arranged list of audio books for both ages, and stayed down at the bottom :)

But, Ana did. She watched the older animated movie long time ago and loved the songs there, so, that might explain her attention span... besides, she listens to stories or music per her mood each night at bed - has a little player by her bed - and that could have helped as well.


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