Check out these best audiobooks for toddlers!
Toddler brains are absolute sponges when it comes to picking up new words. Long before they start chattering away, they’re learning by listening to how others talk. The same is true of learning to read. The more kids hear words out loud, the more prepared they’ll be, and what better way to get them fired up about books than by introducing them to audio versions of their favorite stories?
For a 2-year old (and 3-year old and 4-year old), there is nothing like snuggling up with a parent or caregiver for a read-aloud from a cute picture book. But the next best thing? Audiobooks. Making audiobooks part of your toddler’s routine can plant the seeds for a love of books while encouraging independent reading.
How to Use Audiobooks
Incorporating audiobooks into your toddler’s day is simple! There are many times during the day when you can pull out the iPad or other device of choice and queue up some audio stories. Here are few examples:
- Going on a road trip? Or just running some errands? Car rides are a great time to turn on an audiobook because the kiddos are already sitting in one place with minimal distractions.
- Audiobooks make a calming addition to quiet time or settling down ahead of a nap.
- Bedtime! Listening to stories before bed promotes early literacy while helping your child wind down.
How to Pick the Right Books
Choose stories that match their age and interest level. It could be audio versions of picture books they already have so they can flip the pages as they listen. Don’t shy away from audiobooks that are a little above their level, though. Picking above-level audiobooks is an effective way to build vocab and open up more advanced book options that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible.
Where to Find Audiobooks
There are several platforms that provide audiobooks for 2-4-year olds. The best part? Several of them are free or very low cost. Here are some quality platforms for finding toddler-friendly audiobooks:
- Audible Stories: Right now, while family routines are disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon is offering an entire free audiobook library for kids. It includes titles across eight languages that will help them “continue learning, dreaming and just being kids.”
- LibriVox: LibriVox is filled with free books from the public domain, and it’s a great resource to find older, classic stories.
- Epic: Then of course, there’s us! We’ve got a vast collection of audiobooks for preschoolers on Epic Basic and Epic Unlimited. You can browse the entire collection, as well as our Read-To-Me books and animated stories.
Check out our favorite audiobooks for toddlers and preschoolers—all available on Epic!
Best Short Stories
By Audrey and Don Wood
A menagerie of animals are all dozing in this house—but will something put an end to their peaceful slumber? At the top of our list of best audiobooks for toddlers is “The Napping House.” This beloved and best-selling board book from Audrey and Don Wood has been sending little ones off to bed with laughter and sweet dreams for over 20 years. Great for bed or just quiet time, it’s filled with delightful repetition, rhyme and descriptive words that help develop the language skills they’ll need to start reading.
By Philip C. Stead
Every day Amos the zookeeper takes good care of his animal friends, until one day when he has to take a sick day. So the animals decide it’s their turn to take care of him! Endearing and warm, this audio version of the beloved children’s book will give your little ones warm and fuzzies while showing them the value of taking care of others in times of need.
By Esphyr Slobodkina
In this charming tale a group of mischievous monkeys steal a peddler’s caps and he must outwit them to get them back. Parents have been sharing this classic story with little ones for over 80 years, and with good reason. With repetition and patterns—not to mention warmth, humor, and simplicity, it’s a fun way to teach little kids about problem resolution.
Best Music Audiobooks
By Paul Langstaff
This short story is an old counting song filled with the beauty and wonder of meadow life. Sung to bright, yet mellow music it’s the perfect choice for bedtime story time, car rides or as an at-home music lesson. Listen and sing together or just move to the music. It’s sure to leave both you and your little one with smiling faces and tapping toes.
We know most kids have “The Wheels on the Bus” committed to memory, but this version definitely deserves a listen! The classic children’s ditty comes to life in this audiobook with a lively musical score by The Bacon Brothers. Your toddler will love rocking out to this hip edition of the familiar favorite.
Best Audiobooks From a Series
By Beatrix Potter
Part of the “Peter Rabbit” series, this classic book is one we definitely recommend exploring. It introduces young listeners to the language and leisures of a different time. When an optimistic and slightly accident-prone frog sets off on a fishing expedition across the pond, he finds himself caught up in trouble.
If your preschooler loves this story, check out the other stories from the Beatrix Potter book series, including a read-aloud version of “The Tale of Mr. Rabbit.”
By Jane Yolen
Dinosaur parents give their kids a big kiss, turn out the light, tuck in their tails and whisper “good night” in this fun and endearing bedtime story. The narrator teaches little ones how to act (and not act!) when it’s time to go to bed. Your 2- and 3-year olds will love the fun music and silly sounds.
If your child loves this book, check out the other titles in the “How Do Dinosaurs” book series!
Best Audiobooks for Social-Emotional Learning
By Molly Bang
Learning how to handle negative feelings can be tough for kids, who are still learning how to process their emotions and behave appropriately when their tempers flare. This Caldecott-honor book illustrates several ways kids can control their anger through the relatable experiences of one little girl. The audio version of this highly rated picture book will not only teach your preschooler valuable coping skills, it’ll let them know they’re not alone.
By Ezra Jack Keats
Peter has a new baby sister and is struggling to adjust. It’s bad enough that he’s no longer the youngest member of the family, but he’s having to give up some of his old belongings to the new baby—first his cradle, then his crib and now his chair! “Peter’s Chair” is part of the award-winning series about Peter and his neighborhood friends from the Caldecott Medal-winning author, Ezra Jack Keats. Whether you want to prepare your toddler for a new arrival or just enjoy a new book, any young reader can benefit from this reassuring story about sibling rivalry.
Explore More of the Best Audiobooks for Toddlers!
Like these audiobooks? We’re just getting started! Here’s a list of even more great picks both on and off our platform:
- “Bugs in My Hair,” by David Shannon
- “Fox in Socks,” by Dr. Seuss
- “Frog and Toad Together,” by Arnold Lobel
- “Harold’s Fairy Tale,” by Crockett Johnson
- “The Gruffalo,” by Julia Donaldson
- “Winnie the Pooh: Pooh Goes Visiting“, by A.A. Milne
Get ’em listening and reading early, beginning with this list of best audiobooks for toddlers. Before you know it, they’ll be on to enjoying classic chapter books you loved as a kid, from E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” and Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,” to more contemporary stuff like “How to Train Your Dragon” and the “Harry Potter” series.