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Stories to listen to – audiobooks and apps

4 minutes reading time
3-17 years
Tool description
Foto: photothek.de

Young people use streaming services for music and podcasts. Audio books are also very popular. Those who don’t feel like reading themselves or want to listen to stories on the go use them via apps and audio libraries. The offer for different age groups is constantly growing.

Audiobooks and radio plays

Unlike audio plays, audio books are read books. Speakers read the books aloud. The recordings can then be listened to via audiobook apps, streaming services, audio files or CD. Radio plays differ from audio books in that the stories are acted out as in a film or series – with distributed roles, music and sounds.

Cinema in the head – what audiobooks achieve

Children like stories – they are exciting, provide role models, and relieve boredom. The special thing about audio stories: They stimulate the imagination and encourage the creativity of young listeners. Entire worlds are created in the mind. Audiobooks are a nice opportunity to dive into stories and other worlds. In the same way, they can take up challenging topics and explain them to children, convey values, provide comfort, train listening skills and contribute to language development.

Many children are read books at a young age and associate these situations with positive feelings. Parents don’t always have time to read aloud. Then audio books and audio plays offer a good supplement. At some point, children feel too old to be read to. Some children and teens have a hard time reading whole books. Others can best “read books with their ears” because they are blind or visually impaired. Audiobooks can also be an incentive for children who don’t like to read to discover books and then pick up a book themselves. Another advantage of audio books and audio plays: Children can listen again and again to stories or scenes that move them in terms of content.

Selection of suitable audio content

Make sure the audio content is appropriate for children and their age. There are audiobooks (and radio plays) that can emotionally overwhelm, frighten, or scare children. The choice is huge. Consider the following criteria when making your selection:

  • The story and characters are oriented to the world of children. Children can empathize well with the main character and follow the plot eagerly.
  • The voices fit the story and the characters. Children love to listen. Too many voices and characters can overwhelm young children.
  • Children like and need clear structures. Therefore, the story should be easy to understand and follow acoustically.
  • This includes making sure the story has enough suspense to follow, but not so much that your child can’t bear it and becomes frightened.

Use theme filters when choosing and pay attention to the description and age recommendation. Audio stories that have been awarded the Auditorix audiobook seal are especially recommended. An overview by age incl. You can get audio samples of the individual audiobooks in the Auditorix online database.

Find audio books

You and your child can get audiobooks and audio plays in a number of ways. There are free and paid offerings.

Free offers

Most (public) libraries have a digital offering. Via the so-called Onleihe, which is available as an app, electronic audio files can be borrowed, among other things. All that is needed is a library card, which children and teens up to age 18 can usually get for free at their local library. Audio books are also lent out on site, e.g. on CDs or as Tonie figures for the audio box.

The audio libraries of the public broadcasters also have a large offer. The audio libraries are available as web version or app. In the ARD audio library and the Dlf Audiothek there is a lot of audio content for children.

On the Internet, you can download self-produced audio books and audio plays free of charge at vorlesen.net (also available as an app). Mostly classic stories like the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, stories of Karl May, etc. There is a separate section for children & teenagers. LibriVox makes a similar offer – but the site is in English. German audio content can also be displayed via filtering.

Fee-based offers

Well-known music streaming services – like Spotify and Amazon Music – also offer audio plays and audiobooks. Since the free accounts often only have basic features, they are not unrestricted for this. Spotify Kids can only be used with a premium account and offers access to child-friendly audio content without advertising.

In addition, there are apps and platforms just for audiobooks. The best known are probably Audible, Amazon‘s offering, and BookBeat.

  • Audible has a wide range of German and other language audiobooks. It can be used with an Amazon account or with an Audible account. The use of an audio book can be paid for individually or in the form of a subscription (€9.95/month – as of September 2022). Audiobooks can be downloaded online or listened to directly via the app. There is a possibility to test the offer in a free trial month.
  • BookBeat is a Swedish audio streaming service for audiobooks that works via an app. The range of audiobooks is comparable to Audible. Some books are also available to read as e-books. There are two subscriptions that vary by monthly listening hours (from €9.99/month). BookBeat requires registration – the offer can be tested free of charge in the first month. Only child-friendly audiobooks are displayed in the “Children’s profile”.
  • Storytel is also a Swedish offering and can be used with the corresponding app and after registration. Here, too, there are two subscription models based on listening hours (from €7.90/month) and a free trial period. Storytel has a secure children’s mode that is secured via PIN in the parent account. In it, your child will have their own bookshelf and access to Storytel‘s children’s offerings.

Younger children in particular can listen to stories via an audio box. New content can be downloaded and uploaded or new figures can be purchased for the Toniebox.

What else is important

If your child uses audiobook apps or streaming services independently, the child mode should be activated – if available. Listening to audiobooks is also media use that should be part of family media rules. Balance this out so that your child gets enough exercise and variety.

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