Important update – Audible has discontinued their Audible Stories program. Because we are all done with the pandemic, and heaven forbid they keep giving stuff away for free. (That was sarcasm.) I’m going to leave this post up, because it remains good information about some quality audiobooks, and is helpful for those who already use Audible.
You can also find these audiobooks at your local library, most likely in their online collection. We don’t use Audible in our family. Too pricey. Don’t worry, none of these links are affiliate links so I’m allowed to say that. If any big blogger is singing the praises of Audible, be aware if they are an affiliate they get at least $10/signup. Yep. So, let me tell you how great Audible is… (I kid, I kid.)
Now, here’s the original post that went viral during the pandemic about Audible Stories, which no longer exists:
Looking for stuff to do at home right now? Audible has released a great resource of FREE audiobooks for kids called Audible Stories!
Important stuff to know about FREE Audiobooks for kids on Audible Stories:
- Here’s the link to Audible Stories.
- It doesn’t take a credit card or email signup to listen. Just hit play and start listening!
- The books are separated by age range. However, I do not always agree with the books in the suggested age ranges. For example, A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis is in the “Teen” section. Hmmm… Also The Green Ember and Anne of Green Gables are both listed in the “Elementary” section, and I would definitely only recommend them for “Tween” listeners and up. (“Elementary” just covers a lot of years, and early elementary might not be ready for some of the books in this section.) Don’t take the recommendations on the Audible Stories’ website as gospel!
- Reviews for the audiobooks are sometimes inaccurate. There are sometimes multiple editions with different readers, but the reviews for a book with a specific reader show up on every edition of that book. So, if a reviewer happened to hate a specific performance, they could give it a scathing review. That review will show up on every edition of the book, even those read by a different reader. Just FYI, worth paying attention to. Just because a book has very few stars doesn’t mean it’s not worth listening to.
- There are books in different languages! Harry Potter in Italian caught my eye. Not because I speak Italian, just because it’s cool!
- There’s a lot of British readers. Which is fine…as long as your kids can understand them. Don’t get frustrated if they can’t. Occasionally my kids start yelling, “WHAT LANGUAGE ARE THEY SPEAKING??” So, we turn the audiobook off. (Sorry, Paddington. Maybe someday.)
Wondering where to start? Here are my top recommendations of free audiobooks for kids on Audible Stories:
Free Audiobooks for Preschoolers on Audible Stories
Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
My kids LOVE Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, read by Peter Dennis. (And only Peter Dennis…There are so many versions of this audiobook, but this is the ONLY reader they actually listen to.)
Because of the more complex sentences and many characters, do not be frustrated if your preschooler doesn’t like this one right away. Just turn it off and try again in a few months.
Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit and Friends
These classic stories are especially fun if you happen to own any Beatrix Potter books, or can pull them up on your public library’s online resources. That way you can look at the pictures while the narrator reads. That’s an awesome way to introduce this longer audiobook for preschoolers.
HOWEVER, be aware that Beatrix Potter is sort of dark. And by “sort of dark” I mean, “she’s SUPER dark.” I mean, Peter Rabbit’s dad got cooked in a rabbit pie. But it’s such a charming story that it doesn’t seem to even register with my kids. So, just know your kids and if they will like it. Or preview before listening aloud!
Heads up to parents of preschoolers…
BTW, you’ll see The Little Mermaid on the site. This isn’t your Disney princess story. This is the classic tale that ends…not happy. (Spoiler alert: The mermaid does not end up with the prince, nor does she end up even alive.) Just a heads up.
Free Audiobooks for First Graders and Up on Audible Stories
The Wind in the Willows
If your kids can handle the British accents, the BBC adaptation of The Wind in the Willows is on there, and it’s quite nice. However, this version is very abridged! Just be warned that if you are familiar with the book, your favorite parts might not be in this production. But it’s excellent, and a lovely audiobook for elementary kids.
The Reluctant Dragon
While we’re talking about accents, The Reluctant Dragon is another good, short option for an audiobook for families. (Seriously, it’s SUPER short – less than an hour.) However, it’s also narrated by a reader with a rather strong accent, so make sure your little people can understand it.
I would consider the content to be acceptable for any age, but with the audiobook reader I recommend for first grade and up. Even as a grownup I have a little trouble telling the characters apart.
Heads up to parents of elementary kids…
I’ve had success playing audiobooks with a reader with an accent at a slower speed. That helps my kids understand them better. Right now that isn’t an option on the Audible Stories player, but if they add it, or if you play audiobooks on other sources, keep that tip in mind!
Free Audiobooks for Fifth Graders and Up on Audible Stories
Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables is great for fifth graders and up. Even though the content is suitable for all ages, the way the sentences are written and the extremely flowery language makes it better for the big kids. It is the classic story of an orphan girl living on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The narrator (Rachel McAdams, or Hollywood fame) does not really do any voices or anything, so this is a good audiobook for listening to in the car or sometime when the kids can really focus on it. It takes some effort to tell the difference between Mrs. Lind and Marilla!
The Green Ember
The Green Ember is a very exciting story about rabbits. Sort of like if Watership Down was written by a dad as a bedtime story, and you add armor for the rabbits, and subtract all the political allegory. Highly recommended as an audiobook for the big kids! (There is lots of fighting! FYI if that’s content you aren’t ok with in the audiobooks.)
The Green Ember is probably one of the hidden gems in the Audible Stories site – definitely check it out while it’s free!!
Heads up to parents of older kids…
Friendly reminder that YA is NOT a reading level, but a genre of book. YA books can contain stuff that isn’t right for your family. Sometimes, in an attempt to be relatable to the teens and tweens, it glamorizes things like suicide or eating disorders. Pay attention to what’s in those sections on Audible Stories! I wouldn’t recommend letting your kids listen to these free audiobooks without some guidance about what we put in our minds.