Are you looking for ways to get your young children away from the television and video games this summer? If you have a personal computer (PC) and the internet, here are some book choices that allow kids to use a PC (or tablet) to read stories or listen to audiobooks. Do you remember the books you read when you were young or the stories read to you by your parents or grandparents? Many of those old stories were the source of life learning skills as well as entertainment. It was quite the norm for authors of days old to integrate lessons on ethics and moral conduct into their stories.
Here are several recommended books for children ages 5 to 9, although even older kids (and the young at heart) can enjoy these gems. For the youngest children in this group, 5 to 7 years of age, parents and grandparents may want to read these stories or listen to the audiobooks along with their young ones as a way of enjoying some quality time together.
[Note: Many of these sites let you download the book or audio file to your computer since many of these are in the public domain. Many of these books can also be found through the Amazon Kindle Book Store or Barnes and Noble, Nook Book Store.]
1. Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen. Stories for the young and young at heart, these fairy tales have been a staple in the western literary world since they were published in the first half of the 19th century. They are still told today and used to teach children lessons in ethics, morals, and perseverance. Click this link for Andersen’s Fairy Tales eBook and online reading or this link for Andersen’s Fairy Tales audiobook . For a very cool site designed for children, try the Andersen Fairy Tales.com website. It includes interactive, audio, and some animated versions.
2. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Tell the kids that this story is older than television and not an invention of the Disney studios. Just kidding — this summer is the time that you introduce them to the original version as written by Kipling published in 1894. eBook/Online or Audiobook
3. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. This collection of short stories was first published in 1902. Many of these stories tell imaginative versions of how various animals came to be the way they are today. eBook/Online or Audiobook
4. Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. Peter and Wendy tells the classic story of Peter Pan, little boy who learns to fly by magic and his adventures in Neverland with Wendy and her brothers, the fairy named Tinker Bell, and a pirate Captain Hook. eBook/Online or Audiobook
5.The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. The story of a puppet that wanted to be a real boy and the adventures and lessons learned along the way. A story so strongly rooted in our past that it has been rewritten and retold in movies and in animation for the theater and the television. The lessons portrayed regarding behavior, honesty, commitment and caring for family are still true today. eBook/Online or Audiobook
6. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Here is the story of Sara Crewe, a bright and polite child born to a wealthy soldier in India. Sara moves to London in Victorian-era England for a formal education at a boarding school supervised by a not-so-nice headmistress. The young girl finds herself dealing with family turmoil and the pressure of the new school. Sarah strives to hold onto her pride and positive attitude throughout the story. eBook/Online or Audiobook
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. This is a story with an interesting history since the writer, in 1726, intended it to be a social satire; however, over the centuries, the stories within the book rang the bells of imagination in the minds of children of all ages. Still today, children find the adventures of Gulliver delightful and fun. eBook/Online or Audiobook
8. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is about an orphan named Mary, who is sent to live with her uncle in Yorkshire. Initially a sour and bad-tempered child, her behavior and outlook on life change for the better when she discovers a long-abandoned garden on the grounds of her uncle’s estate. eBook/Online or Audiobook
9 through 22. Wizard of Oz Series by Frank L. Baum: There are more Oz adventures than just the one told and retold at the movies. Read all of Baum’s Oz series stories. You can find them all available to be read online or download from the Gutenberg Project; just follow the links below.
9. Volume 1, The Wizard of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
10. Volume 2, The Marvelous Land of Oz: An account of the further adventures of the Scarecrow and Tim Woodman: A Sequel to the Wizard of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
11. Volume 3, Ozma of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
12. Volume 4, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
13. Volume 5, The Road to Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
14. Volume 6, The Emerald City of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
15. Volume 7, The Patchwork Girl of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
16. Volume 8, Tik-Tok of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
17. Volume 9, The Scarecrow of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
18. Volume 10, Rinkitink of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
19. Volume 11, The Lost Princess of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
20. Volume 12, The Tin Woodman of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
21. Volume 13, The Magic of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
22. Volume 14, Glinda of Oz: eBook and Online reading or Audiobook
Use this reading opportunity to participate with your children in the adventure of these classic books and audio-books. Remember that some of the language will seem a bit foreign to the little ones and you might need to explain the meaning words and phrasing. Kids today may not be familiar with words like: “marionette” in Pinocchio or “longitude and latitude” in Kipling’s short stories. Encourage and help children to find the joy and benefit of reading. There’s nothing wrong with taking that eBook or audiobook outside to read or listen to under a tree or on the porch; that goes for the big kids too.
For more on free eBooks and audiobooks see my previous article: More Free Books Please.