Yoto Player Review: Is It Worth It?

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*This blog post is not sponsored. There is a referral link (works like a promo code, but no code needed!) that I am sharing later on in the post.

I first heard about the Yoto Player a year ago, and I wasn’t quite sure what to think.

First of all, I love cute ideas of things for kids to do. And we do love books and stories in our family. But it sounded pricey, and while our children love being read to, I didn’t know if audiobooks would be their thing. Was this just a flashy trendy item to buy your kids for Christmas – one that would soon be forgotten?

It turns out, the Yoto Player has been incredibly worth it for our family!

What is a Yoto Player?

Simply put, Yoto Players are a kid-friendly way to listen to audiobooks and audio content. You insert a story card (made from thick plastic) into the top of the Player, and control the chapter selection and volume level using two knobs on the front.

The Yoto Player company sells two types of Yoto Players: the regular size Yoto Player and the Yoto Player Mini.

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Is the Yoto Player Easy For Kids to Use?

Yes! It is so easy for kids to use. I love how intuitive the design is. On our Mini Player (more about why we picked the Mini later), there’s an on/off button on the side, and two large orange knobs on the front. The left knob allows a child to control the volume (although you as the parent get to set the maximum volume level from the Yoto app on your phone). The right knob controls the chapter selection (by rotating the knob and then pushing it in to click).

To play a story, your child simply turns on the Yoto Player and inserts a story card in the slot at the top of the Yoto Player. The story will begin to play! To pause the story, just pull the card out. You can stick the card back in the Player to pick up right where you left off!

We have a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. The Yoto Player has been PERFECT for these ages, and I know it will continue to be a versatile item in our home that grows with the kids over the years! The Yoto Player is marketed for “ages 3-12+” and there are Yoto Player story cards that are even listed for age 8-12+, so it’s not only for very young children. It’s meant to be something that adapts as your children get older.

How is the Yoto Player Different From Other Audio Options (Like a Tonie Box or CD Player)?

There are definitely other workable ways to listen to audio content. I’ve often played music or even podcasts/stories for my kids from my Spotify app on our family’s Bluetooth speaker. But the Yoto Player is an intuitive, easy way for children to play audiobooks independently! Additionally, there are no ads to skip past (or avert your eyes from) like what can happen on YouTube, which is a welcome change from much content available these days. The content is handpicked by ourselves as parents, and new content is not suggested to our kids once a story concludes.

In terms of the Tonie Box, I had looked into that option a little before the Yoto Player became a frontrunner for us. The Tonie Box involves little figurines (especially Disney characters) that house the content, instead of cards, that you stick on top of a speaker box. That’s a lot of little figurines to keep track of (and I don’t want more toy pieces to keep track of, haha), and it’s a more bulky box shape. I also heard that the Tonie Box doesn’t focus as much on literature as the Yoto Player does; the Tonie Box is very playful and geared towards very young children. See our list of favorite Yoto Cards down below – we have Disney content, which the Tonie Box has as well, but with the Yoto Player we also have access to wonderful literature like Frog & Toad and Winnie the Pooh, and even more options are available as our kids get older, like Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, The Tale of Despereaux, The Boxcar Children… Also, apparently if you take the Tonie Box figurine off while it’s playing a story, and put it back on, the story restarts at the beginning; I like the fact that with the Yoto Player, the story simply pauses when the card is taken out.

Regarding a CD player, that involves fragile CDs that cannot be scratched or accidentally left out. And it involves the finding and purchase of CDs with your desired content, which isn’t as easy these days!

Should I get a Regular Yoto Player or a Yoto Player Mini?

After much deliberation and research, my husband and I decided to get our children one Yoto Player Mini to share. (And we’re really happy with our decision!) Here are some of the main differences between the players:

The regular Yoto Player is $99.99, while the Mini runs at $69.99. The regular Yoto Player is larger and more boxy (almost 4.5″ x 4.5″, and 4″ thick), while the Mini is smaller and thinner (almost 3″ x 3″, and about 1.5″ thick).

The regular Yoto Player charges via a magnetic charging dock, and is marketed for “around the house” listening. It also has a nightlight and “okay to wake” function. Like I mentioned, it is larger. It has a 10 hour battery life before needing to be charged again.

The Mini charges via a USB-C charging cord, and is marketed for “on the go” listening. It has a 20 hour battery life.

Both players have a headphone jack and 16GB capacity. Both connect to the Yoto phone app. Both have a little screen for pixel displays that go along with each story card, although the regular Yoto Player does have a larger screen and thus a larger visual display. (It’s a very simple display – it’s a still image, not like an actual animated movie playing on the screen. On our Mini Player, it’s a small pixel image that hints at the story card’s title or the content of the current chapter playing (like an image of the silly chicken character from Moana for one of the Moana story chapters).

Why did we choose the Mini? (Even though it’s marketed for “on the go” and we’re at home a lot due to homeschooling?)

I’d heard comments about the Mini Yoto Player seeming a bit more durable than the regular size player (basically, you don’t want to let the regular size Yoto Player fall off of a table with a card still inserted – it could break the card).

The volume on the Mini can still get nice and loud (to project a story across the whole living room, etc.). We don’t personally need the nightlight or “okay to wake” function of the regular Yoto Player (I have other strategies for “okay to wake” kinds of timers).

What really sold us on the Mini was its cheaper price AND its much longer battery life. Chances are (and I’m just guessing here!), your kids will really love the Yoto Player and will be listening to it a lot…so it’s handy with the Mini to not have to charge it all the time! We have not once wished that we had gotten the regular sized Yoto Player. There are differences between the regular and the Mini, but we didn’t feel the benefits of the regular sized Yoto were enough to warrant getting the larger size. The Mini works so well for the kids to carry around the house, so I love the smaller “on the go” factor, too! That’s just our personal preference. The Mini has been wonderful for us.

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What is the Yoto Club?

The Yoto Club is an ongoing subscription that provides you with two Yoto Cards each month, plus 10% off purchases, plus free shipping.

Is it a good idea? We think so! We’re not a family who loves paying for countless subscriptions unless we really deem it to be a good deal. My husband is the kind of guy who likes crunching the numbers and finding what is truly a good deal (and not just a good sounding deal), and he feels it is a good option. 🙂 Granted, we also adore books in our family and feel like books (and audiobooks) are a worthy investment. So we did decide to join the Yoto Club when we purchased the kids their Yoto Player Mini for Christmas.

You can pay for the Yoto Club monthly or annually. (Monthly is $9.99/month, and annually is $99/year which comes to only $8.25/month.) We chose to pay annually and give it a shot for a year.

“Two free Yoto Cards?” Yes, you get two story cards every month! They show up as credits in your account (one credit = one card). You have 12 whole months to use up any banked-up credits!

To get your free cards, you just filter their huge (and growing) collection of Yoto Cards with the filter “Show Me Yoto Club Cards Only.” There, you’ll find something like 150 cards to pick from! They do continue to add to it! The cards you select will be mailed to you (but will be instantly available to you in the Yoto app if you want to start listening right away!).

Cards are typically something like $9.99 or $12.99 each. That’s why we felt that paying $8.25/month (to get two free cards/month) would be worth it as we built up our collection of cards over this next year. Then we’ll reassess and decide if we want to keep the subscription going.

The 10% off Club discount is great, especially if you end up wanting to purchase more cards outside of the Yoto Club program. And free shipping doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it really is when it comes to Yoto, because shipping is something like $10 (even when purchasing a $10 card!).

You can also cancel the Yoto Club subscription at any time. If you have an annual membership and want to cancel, they will “refund the cost of any unused months minus the discount applied to annual memberships.”

GET 10% OFF YOUR YOTO PLAYER PURCHASE WHEN YOU USE THIS LINK! (No code needed!)

Our Favorite Yoto Player Stories and Content:

There are so, so many cards to choose from, and they continue to add to the collection all the time! The cards you select will be mailed to you (but will be instantly available to you in the Yoto app if you want to start listening right away!).

Cards are typically something like $9.99 or $12.99 each, although some cards are less and others come in a larger bundle (like a Frozen story bundle). (That’s why we decided to join the Yoto Club, since it comes to $8.25/month and we wanted to build up our collection this year.) Something I really like about these stories is that they’re usually long! It’s not like it’s a 10 minute retelling of a movie. For example, the Moana story card is 2 hours 46 minutes! It really builds up kids’ attention spans.

You can filter the collection of cards several ways, including by age (ages 0-5, 5-8, or 8-12+), or by content type (stories, music, etc.).

Cards are also stored in your Library on the Yoto app, which means you can play/control stories on the Yoto Player’s speaker using your phone instead of physical cards. You can also use the Yoto app in the car – I love being able to play Yoto content for the kids over the car’s speakers while driving! While Yoto Players are great to bring on car trips, it’s okay if you leave the player at home – just play any of the stories from the app on your phone!

We don’t have a massive collection currently, but below are our favorites so far! I will continue adding to this list as time goes on. (We have a mix of cards – some, we purchased initially as part of a Christmas gift to our kids, and others are cards we’ve gotten with Yoto Club credits since then.)

When you click any of the card links below, you can listen to an audio sample! But if you choose to purchase a Yoto Player, please be sure to use the link at the bottom of this blog post to get 10% off!!

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Complete BBC Collection // This is an audio book of the classic stories by A.A. Milne. It includes 16 delightful Winnie-the-Pooh stories and is 3 hours 40 minutes long! I love the vocabulary (and goofiness) in these stories.

Frog and Toad Audio Collection // Read by the author, Arnold Lobel. This collection includes the 4 Frog & Toad books, which each have multiple stories! This one is 1 hour 29 minutes, and it’s hilarious and fun.

Moana // A junior novel retelling of Disney’s Moana. These Disney story Yoto cards don’t include the movie songs (copyright reasons??) but the kids honestly haven’t missed that – it’s retold so well and it’s so engaging. This one is 2 hours 46 minutes long.

Disney Classics: 101 Dalmatians // This one is really fun. I love how there are background noises (like downtown London) to go along with the story. I will note that (if you recall from the Disney movie), Cruella does call people “fools” or “idiots,” so that’s something to consider as a parent or to have a discussion with your children about. (Cruella says those words in the Disney movie as well.) This story card is 39 minutes.

Disney Classics: Beauty & the Beast // Another great classic movie! This one is 39 minutes, too.

Disney Junior Novels Frozen Bundle // Great for any girls in your family who love Frozen! This 2-card bundle includes a junior novel retelling for each of the stories. Frozen is 2 hours 16 minutes, and Frozen II is 3 hours 59 minutes.

PAW Patrol Goodnight Adventure Bay and Other Stories // This is my son’s favorite Yoto card (he loves Paw Patrol these days). It’s 48 minutes and includes 7 short adventure stories. Since it’s a “goodnight” story collection, it’s narrated in a sleepier voice, and runs at a slower pace with sleepy music in the background. Perfect for winding down!

Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy // There are 18 adventures in this collection. It’s a bit harder for our 3- and 5-year-old to track along with, but they still enjoy listening to it! This one will be great as they get older, too. It’s 1 hour 37 minutes.

The Ancient Adventures Collection // This includes 4 cards: Meet the Ancient Egyptians, Meet the Ancient Greeks, Meet the Ancient Romans, and Meet the Pirates. It’s an entertaining look at these historical topics, describing these cultures’ daily life, famous people, religions, etc. The entire length of these 4 cards is 2 hours 40 minutes.

Make Your Own Cards // I wasn’t sure how much we’d use the Make Your Own Card option when we first got started. (I believe we got our one Make Your Own Card with our purchase of our Yoto Player Mini.) Basically, you get a blank card that you can upload anything onto. Some people use these cards to record their own voices (or a grandparent’s voice) singing or reading – so sweet. These cards work with mp3 files – and pretty much anything that you already own, or decide to purchase! The Make Your Own Cards hold a total file size of 500MB per card, or 100MB maximum on any single track. We have one of these Make Your Own cards. I bought the audiobook version of The Jesus Storybook Bible and uploaded it to our Make Your Own Card. Now the kids have an audiobook version of the Bible (over 3 hours long) that they can listen to anytime!

Soundscapes Lab: Under Water // This isn’t a card, but Yoto has some other neat options available via the app, and this is one of our favorites! We haven’t gotten into the podcasts/Yoto Radio yet, but we came across this ocean soundscape in the app and we love it so much! Our daughter loves all things oceans, so we enjoy playing this ocean soundscape for her (it’s so relaxing with submarine, whale, and water sounds and it plays on a loop – so fun for imagining with!).

There are many other story options and book series made available by Yoto – even some Yoto-exclusive series that I’d never heard of before! For now, we’re mostly sticking to books/stories we’re already quite familiar with, but someday I might be interested in checking out some of the other stories they produce.

**We keep our Yoto cards in this business card holder that I got for $10 on Amazon. It works so well for card storage! Yoto sells a more expensive ($30) option for card storage.

Conclusion:

We love our Yoto Player, and we love it for many of the same reasons they use to market it! Enriching, educational audio content. No ads to skip past (or avert your eyes from). Easy for kids to use by themselves. Provides a great screen-free entertainment option. Cuts way back on screen time or asking for screen time. Fosters vocabulary growth and longer attention spans.

We don’t have our Yoto Player playing 24/7, but it is on for hours per day! Our children are eagerly listening to stories, choosing to get the Yoto Player out while playing with Play-Doh or MagnaTiles, and they’re happily listening to stories for hours every day! And those are hours our children are playing independently, coloring, having their daily afternoon Quiet Time…the list goes on! It’s a much better option for our family than having the TV on all day. I love how it enhances independent playtime. Having a Yoto Player does not mean I’m interacting with my children less (we do so much of our day together, between errands, reading books on the couch, cooking together, homeschool time…) – it just fills pockets of our day with extra educational fun! Reading aloud is super beneficial for children, and the Yoto Player (while not a substitute for cuddling on the couch and reading physical books together) is a beautiful approach to read alouds that we never utilized as a family before! I highly recommend getting a Yoto Player – I bet your family will love it.

GET 10% OFF YOUR YOTO PLAYER PURCHASE WHEN YOU USE THIS LINK! (No code needed!)