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12 Best Audiobooks For Early Readers To Follow Along While They Listen

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You may think that audiobooks are just for entertainment on long trips, but they can also be a powerful learning tool. Though it might seem counterintuitive, these 12 audiobooks for early readers can actually improve comprehension and pronunciation, and are engaging enough for the whole family.

For kids that dread reading, audiobooks can be especially helpful; in addition to exposing children to stories without the anxiety of decoding words, audiobooks can increase word exposure and build vocabulary, and develop age-appropriate content knowledge (per We Are Teachers).

Plus, audiobooks are really fun and lively; stories come alive through the use of funny voices, music, and sound effects. You may already have some of these classic books on your little one's bookshelf (or strewn across their bedroom floor) but there’s still reason to opt for the audiobook too. This way, kids can follow along in the picture book as the audiobook plays which can make reading "'multisensory' and... that can help kids get better at sounding out words (decoding) and reading comprehension,” according to Understood.

Listening to audiobooks is similar to reading out loud to your kids, as the act of hearing a book helps kiddos start to see patterns and connections between spoken and written language. With this in mind, these 12 audiobooks are ideal for any kid who is just starting to read.

1. Where The Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak

Audible

Chances are you already have Where The Wild Things Are somewhere in your house. Your little one can follow along in the book and look at the pictures while they listen to the story of Max and his wild thing friends. Kids will love hearing the familiar story read by the fun, engaging voice of Peter Schickele.

2. Dragons Love Tacos By Adam Rubin

Audible

Like most creatures, dragons just can't get enough of tacos, however, they do not like spicy salsa (because it makes their ears smoke). Dragons Love Tacos is a fun story about how first impressions can be misleading, and how trying new things pay off. If your family loves this audiobook, there's a sequel, too.

3. Llama Llama Red Pajama By Anna Dewdney

Audible

Aside from being both fun to read and listen to, some of the benefits of hearing rhyming books include, "practicing patterns and improving memorization skills, recognizing rhythms, increasing phonological awareness and phonetic ability," per PBS. Llama Llama Red Pajama is a great rhyming story about a little llama who gets a little worried (and full of drama) when it's time to go to bed.

4. Pete the Cat & The Perfect Pizza Party By Kimberly & James Dean

Audible

There are over 60 Pete The Cat books to choose from, many of which are also now audiobooks early readers will have fun listening to. In this one, Pete is worried that his friends are going to ruin his perfect pepperoni pizza (relatable) but ultimately he realizes that collaboration can be a good thing.

5. Little Blue Truck By Alice Schertle

The Little Blue Truck gets stuck in my head for days every time I read it, which is often because my nephews cannot get enough of the little truck. The catchy, rhyming prose tells the story of a truck named Blue who needs to call on his farm animal friends to get him out of a jam. The audiobook is full of animal noises and truck sounds, and it's a great one for kids to read along with.

6. Red: A Crayon's Story By Michael Hall

Audible

Everyone wants Red to draw red things, but this crayon just knows it's blue really blue inside. Red: A Crayon's Story is about finding courage and being true to yourself, and new readers will enjoy hearing this lively book read aloud.

7. Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus By Mo Willems

Audible

Kids love the sassy, sensitive, and hilarious bird protagonist in the Pigeon series. The bus driver has to step out for a minute in this Caldecott-winning book, so he asks the reader to make sure the pigeon does not drive the bus. Kids will love the silly sounds and the hilarious one-liners can be enjoyed by all ages.

8. The Book With No Pictures By B.J. Novak

Audible

You may remember B.J. Novak as Ryan from The Office but he's also a children's book author and a hilarious one at that. The Book With No Pictures is actually the perfect audiobook because, well, it doesn't have any pictures, and it's filled with silly made-up words that can help kids figure out how letters fit together to make sounds.

9. Mighty, Mighty Construction Site By Sherri Duskey Rinker

Audible

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site comes as the sequel to the much loved Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. It's the same vehicles kids already know and love, with a focus on "team-building, friendship, and working together to make a big task seem small," per Audible.

10. The Snowy Day By Ezra Jack Keats

Audible

Kids and their parents have loved The Snowy Day for decades, (more on that in The Atlantic). Everyone loves the magic of snow, and the bright collage-like illustrations make this a great story for kids to hear while flipping through the actual book.

11. And Tango Makes Three By Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

Audible

And Tango Makes Three is narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, a voice many adults will instantly recognize. This audiobook is about two males penguins who make a family together by caring for an egg that becomes their daughter, Tango. Incredibly, it's based on a true story (per the New York Public Library).

12. Strega Nona By Tomie de Paola

Audible

Strega Nona was my favorite book in kindergarten and it still holds up today. It's the story of a town that gets flooded with pasta after Strega Nona's assistant makes a silly mistake. New and seasoned readers alike will love hearing this audiobook which is great for all elementary school students.