I am asking for help crowd-sourcing a very special book list. This one’s for my sister.
Background: my baby sister Juniper is severely handicapped. She’s autistic, with… complications. Funny, loving, but perpetually a child in need of constant care and attention. Developmentally she’s about 4, and Mom has tried to teach her how to read for most of her 39 years on this earth. She writes letters, sometimes, in her art, but she simply can’t make the mental connection between the shapes, and words. So she cannot read, however she can listen and follow stories! Mom recently discovered that Juniper loves audiobooks, and it saves Mom from reading aloud constantly to her. We all read out loud a lot when I was young. Every night, it was a chapter or two of the classics: Little Women, the Borrowers, Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, Swiss Family Robinson, and many others. Now that my other sister and I have been gone for many years, doing our own things, Juniper doesn’t get as much of that. Audiobooks are a blessing to keeping her entertained. However, Mom is having trouble finding suitable books, so she asked me to create one of my lists that could help Juniper have great stuff to listen to.
Criteria: audiobooks. Need to be ‘clean’ because like any toddler, Juniper arrows in on any bad word and uses it mischievously. Mom and I were talking through a list of books off the top of our heads, and although we think that, for instance, Huck Finn would be right up Juniper’s alley, the one word in that book she’d pick up would be a Very Bad Thing. So Mom has to be ultra-careful in what books she gets for her. Sex just confuses her. She sort of grasps romance, but we really don’t think bedroom scenes are at all appropriate for her. Violence upsets her, with a caveat that it’s only some violence, because mild or lightly-described battles or fights don’t seem to be a problem, only gory, graphic stuff or when it gets all fraught with emotion.
While she has loved listening to the Chronicles of Narnia, Mom thinks a lot of fantasy will confuse her as she doesn’t quite grasp the division of reality and make-believe. Science fiction may have the same problem, although I suspect she’d just let things like spaceships and such flow over her, it’s the people-interactions she enjoys of the books. We were debating whether she’d like the Pern books, for example, but I recall sex in at least some of the later books.
The books don’t need to be ‘children’s’ because she just enjoys stories and hearing about adventures. Most of what Mom has been doing with her have been children’s, mostly because we think she can follow simpler plots, may identify more with child main characters than adults with our complex lives she simply doesn’t have, and they can usually trusted to be ‘clean’. Non-fiction may be hard for her to follow unless it is narrative. She likes listening to the Bible, but I’m pretty sure anything science would go right over her head. She loves documentaries, so maybe an audio version of that? Mom currently doesn’t have a TV, so we’re hoping to find a lot of audiobooks to keep Juniper happy and mentally alert during the long winter.
In addition, if anyone has good sources for free/low-cost audiobooks? I pointed her at Librivox, and she is trying out Audible, plus her local library. But Mom has a limited income, so I’m trying to keep costs for her down.
My deepest thanks in advance.