We are a family who absolutely loves listening to audio books, whether it’s in the car while going to our activities and workshops , colouring on our dining table or just simply to unwind after a long day in the evening. There are many ways to listen to audio books. One way is by borrowing audio books from your local library. Most audio books can be borrowed for 3 weeks. You can also buy a lot of audio books second hand on Amazon and Ebay too. Alternatively you can download the Audible app, which is a subscription service. It has the world’s largest selection of audio books . They offer a free 30 day trial and you can cancel any time. We have been using the app for two years and have absolutely loved it. More information on Audible how to sign up for their trial, can be found here-Audible
Last year, I stumbled upon the BBC children’s classics , which have been a big hit with my children. These audio editions are fully dramatised and have special sound effects too, which makes them very captivating for both young and old. In no particular order, here are our top 10 favourites :
1 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – this is a classic of 20th century children’s literature. “Pauline, Petrova and Possy Fossil are sisters with a difference. All three were adopted as babies by Great Uncle Matthew, an eccentric and rich explorer, who then disappeared , leaving them in the care of his niece Sylvia. The girls grow up in comfort until their money begins to run out and nobody can find their Uncle. Things look bleak, until they hit an inspired idea:Pauline, Petrova and Posy will take to the stage..” I really loved the book as a child and I was pretty sure my children would enjoy listening to the audio book. It is a charming children’s story , full of positive messages about responsibility and commitment to others. We really wished there was a sequel so we could see what happens to the three girls when they are older. The running time is 2 hours and 20 min, suitable for children aged 7 and above.
2-The Railway Children is a BBC Radio full cast dramatisation of E Nesbit’s enchanting and unforgettable classic . We all really enjoyed listening to this version of the beloved classic. It was full of excitement, enchantment and charm. Running time is 1 hour and 45 min, suitable for children aged 5-7 years old. Please note that the CDs do not include everything in the book , but it does include the main incidents.
3- Anne of Green Gables -this was another favourite of ours, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. It is a BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of the enchanting children’s classic about a little red-headed girl with a heart of gold. Its running time is 2 hours and 25 minutes and is suitable for children aged 6 and above.
4-Heidi ( BBC Children’s Classics) is a a BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of Johanna Spyri’s endearing Swiss classic. “The touching story of the adventures of a young Swiss girl is one of the most popular children’s stories ever written. Heidi’s pleasure in the beauty of the Swiss mountains and her rich relationships with her friends and family are perfectly evoked in this warm and lively full cast dramatisation. ” We read the book last year as a read loud and this audio version is really brilliant and wonderful to listen to. Running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes and its for children aged 6 plus.
5-Tom’s Midnight garden by Phillipa Pearce– this has been one of our favourites for sure . It is unique, gripping,charming, sensitive and fun from the start to finish” When his brother catches measles , Tom is sent away to stay with his aunt and uncle and is thoroughly fed up with it. But tedium turns to adventure when lying in bed one night, he watches the seasons change from spring to autumn, and children come and go. But no one seeems to see him -until he meets Hatty, and the two become firm friends. With his new playmate, Tom embarks on an adventure of a lifetime……” Running time is 2 hours and even though they have given an age range between 5-7, I would definitely say that it is geared more for children aged 8/9 and above.
6-The wind in the willows- Alan Bennett does a brilliant job at reading the original story of Ratty, Mole , Badger and of course Toad. He is truly excellent and has perfect voices for each animal.We were all captivated and needless to say thoroughly enjoyed this classic. It is for children aged 5 and above.
7-Polyanna- this is a BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of the classic American tale starring Gayle Hunnicat. “When Pollyanna’s father dies, she is sent to live with her only surviving relative, the rich but stern Aunt Polly. Pollyanna’s joy soon turns to disappointment when her spinster aunt gives her a cold greeting and tells her she is to stay in the attic. It’s not the welcome Pollyanna expected, but she soon regains her spirits, playing the ‘glad game’ her father taught her. Nancy the maid is charmed by Pollyanna and soon the girl’s infectious optimism wins the hearts of everyone in town from the reclusive Mr Pendleton to the shy Dr Chilton.Everyone, that is, except Aunt Polly, who refuses to succumb to her young niece’s charm. It is not until a tragic accident occurs, which leaves even Pollyanna struggling to find a way to feel glad, that her maiden aunt finally unwraps her heart from years of bitterness. “This BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation retains the spirit of childlike innocence and optimism that has made Pollyanna a favourite amongst generations of children and adults. I realluy wasnt sure if my children would like this one, but was really pleasantly surprised. We loved listening to this captivating story.
8-The hundred and one dalmatians- I loved the book as a child and I really wanted to introduce my children to it. “This is the story of Pongo and Missus Pongo, two dalmatians who live in London with their human pets. When their 15 puppies are kidnapped, they set out to find them. With the help of the network of dogs around England (as well as the help of a couple of cats and a horse) they find their puppies, as well as 82 others, escape from the clutches of the wicked Cruella de Vil, and head back for London. They encounter many adventures along the way before finally making it back to their humans.” This is a full cast dramatisation and I would definitely it is for older children aged 9 and above. My five year old found it really difficult to understand and it may have been because of the fact that there were different voices for the various characters. Nevertheless my older two did enjoy this version.
9- The Jungle book- Is there anyone who doesn’t really love this classic by Rudyard Kipling ? I loved the book as a a child and even named my Burmese cat Bagira after one of the characters. “A full-cast dramatisation of Kipling’s classic animal adventure starring Eartha Kitt. Rudyard Kipling’s famous tale tells the story of Mowgli, the ‘man-cub’ rescued from the tiger Shere Khan and adopted by a wolf pack. As he grows up, Mowgli learns the ways of the jungle from Baloo the bear, Bagheera the black panther and Kaa the rock python. His life is full of adventure with the jungle creatures, but soon the time comes when he is forced to leave and take his place among his own people. A kind woman looks after Mowgli but she can’t protect him from the superstitious villagers who believe his friendship with wolves is the result of sorcery. Mowgli’s only escape is to return to the jungle. But even the jungle has become a dangerous place. This rich and entertaining dramatisation skilfully blends words with jungle sounds and music and stars Eartha Kitt as Kaa, Freddie Jones as Baloo, Jonathan Hyde as Bagheera and Nisha K. Mayer as Mowgli. ” It is suitable for children aged 7 and above , but younger children may be able to understand and follow the story too. My 5 year old really enjoyed it.
10 -Water babies- Timothy West, Julia McKenzie and Oliver Peace star in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Charles Kingsley’s classic tale of a chimney sweep who becomes a water baby. It is fully cast dramatised and its is recommended for children aged 5 and above. Having listened to it, I do feel however that it is more suitable for children aged 8/9 and above . My 5 year old wasn’t able to follow the story and even my 7 year old son had to ask me a few questions as he did not understand the whole story. Nevertheless , me and my 9 year old really enjoyed listening to this version of this beautiful classic.
Overall, I highly recommend any of these dramatized Children’s Classics by the BBC. They are all wonderful — high-quality entertainment using top-notch voice actors, sound effects and music, dramatizing stories suitable for any age group. Hope you all give some of these a go! Happy listening!
Peace and blessings