Netgalley Children’s Audiobooks

Take a Bath!: My Tips for Keeping CleanTake a Bath!: My Tips for Keeping Clean by Gina Bellisario
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was educational. It would be good for early STEM learning. I listened to the audiobook, which was clear and well-read. I wasn’t sure how it would be to listen to a children’s book, and not be able to see any pictures or illustrations, but this totally works. You can get some of that childish voice coming through in the writing, and that is really great.

It’s especially timely, as it talks a lot about germs and cleanliness, which is a big topic of conversation during this pandemic. It also has an activity at the end that parents can do with kids to help better demonstrate how germs spread. I thought that was a nice touch. It’s short and to the point. Overall, I liked it and think it would be a useful book to read and discuss with kids.

Follow Those Zebras: Solving a Migration MysteryFollow Those Zebras: Solving a Migration Mystery by Sandra Markle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am 40 years old, and I was absolutely captivated by the mystery of this nonfiction children’s book offering, though I admit my mom always had me watch the nature channels and unsolved mysteries as a child, which might explain a lot.

The audiobook narration is good. The narrator has a clear and dynamic voice. This is very educational, and you learn not just about zebras but also about other animals that migrate and why. It has good vocabulary for young learners, but it’s also easy to understand the sentence structures and use context to help understand terms that might be unfamiliar.

Fun fact: Each zebra has a unique set of stripes that can be used to identify that zebra—kind of like humans all have unique fingerprints. I didn’t know that.

Run, Sea Turtle, Run: A Hatchling's JourneyRun, Sea Turtle, Run: A Hatchling’s Journey by Stephen Swinburne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The narration is extremely slow, with every word over-enunciated. While I understand this is for young readers, and there is new vocabulary, it’s important that kids learn the rhythm and patterns of speech, too…not just that they clearly hear every single word. A large part of language and communication lies in patterns of speech, rhythms, and inflections.

As a teacher and librarian, someone who has worked with children a lot, this just goes a bit too far in the wrong direction, to where it moves away from being helpful and instead becomes unnatural and tedious. This would be frustrating for children, the longer they have to listen, and it’s definitely frustrating for the adults.

Even turned up to 2 speed, it just still sounds unnatural and robotic. It actually makes it harder to understand sentences and concepts, because it breaks words up that really should run together in order to best be understood. Children have to understand sentences as a whole, not just carefully hear every individual word that has been said. I have to confess that the presentation was so off-putting that I missed a lot of the content and had to listen again.

At the end, there are a bunch of facts listed and explained, and that section is so much better. It uses natural inflection, rhythm, and emotion in the reading, which makes it a thousand times easier to listen to and understand. It’s too bad the whole book wasn’t like that. I think this was just a failure to understand communication and the development of language. This was probably recorded this way on purpose, by someone who thought they had good intentions but who just doesn’t understand early literacy/early learning.

So, I definitely do not recommend this in audio format, but it might be educational and interesting in the print format.

When Lunch Fights BackWhen Lunch Fights Back by Rebecca L. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was worried that I would be missing a lot by not having the pictures, but this was still interesting and informative. I ended up Googling some of the creatures, so I could see what they looked like, which worked out great.

The narrator had a good voice, easy to understand but still dynamic and engaging.

This had lots of wickedly fascinating facts. I could see teachers and/or librarians using just a segment of the book at a time to read and discuss with their classes and groups. Overall, it’s a good offering, even when you can’t see the photos, but I bet the pictures and graphics are also fantastic, which means you might want to use this in both formats.

Nature's Ninja: Animals with Spectacular SkillsNature’s Ninja: Animals with Spectacular Skills by Rebecca L Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was fun. It talks about ninjas and animals, and it compares the two. It’s clever, and the audiobook narrator is engaging. I enjoyed it and learned some new facts. This would be fun and educational for teachers and librarians to read and discuss with a group of children.

It even introduces some new vocabulary and helps explain what those words mean, often using them multiple times, so that learners can get used to the new words and concepts.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and think kids will like it, too.

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