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Audiobooks are our go-to no-screen entertainment source for the whole family. On the road, we play them through the car stereo to keep everyone on the same page (so to speak). In the air, we plug in each kid to their favorite audiobook. Now that we’re so homebound, we get a little alone time (bubble bath anyone?) by asking our Alexa devices to read audiobooks aloud to the kids. Here are the best family audiobooks that keep everyone in our family entertained for hours, broken down by age group. You can even get a free audiobook from Amazon Audible. Scroll to the end to learn how.
Best Audiobooks for Preschoolers
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – This is a classic tale of a wild but sensitive boy who doesn’t feel understood at home. He escapes to where the wild things are and becomes their king. But he soon realizes he misses home. A fun shorter read for short attention spans.
The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen – Adventure! Science! Exploration! Kids in Ms. Frizzle’s class experience it all. Hop onto the bus with them! The kids will love it and you might just learn something too.
The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel – This one is a classic. In fact, you might have even listened to these short audiobooks as a child. Friends Frog and Toad explore their world and how they interact with each other in it in a series of short stories.
The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne – History meets fiction in this action-packed series that takes readers into historic times with a dash of fantasy and legend. My kids couldn’t get enough of these books as little ones.
Stuart Little by E.B. White – When the Littles decide to adopt a new family member, they choose Stuart, a tiny orphaned mouse. Follow along with his adventures as an itty bitty member of the family in this imaginative book.
The Big Foot and Little Foot series by Ellen Potter – A little boy and a little sasquatch become fast friends who go on all sorts of adventures — opening their eyes to the fact that their races are more alike than anyone realizes.
Best Audiobooks for School Age Kids
The Curse of the Werepenguin by Allan Woodrow – An orphan is adopted by a mysterious baron. He hopes he’s one step closer to his long lost parents. But then he discovers that the baron is a werepenguin, set on making the orphan one of his people. This is a fun and hilarious book perfect for family road trips about hopes, dreams, friendship and penguins.
My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi – Ebony-Grace Norfleet is a 12-year-old with an epic imagination. She lives in Alabama with her beloved grandfather and her mother and dreams of space adventures. Then she’s sent to stay with her father in New York. Can she reconcile her head in the stars with her life in the big city?
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August – Arlo Finch is new to a tiny Colorado town. He joins the Rangers, thinking he’ll learn wilderness skills and how to tie knots. But he soon learns there’s much more to it that that. He must learn to harness the wild magic seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods — a parallel realm of wonder and danger — in this fantasy novel.
The Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary – Remember Ramona? Family dynamics, sisterhood and growing up are the themes of the entertaining books in the series. And it’s been delighting readers for decades. I enjoyed sharing these books with my kids when they were little.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan – What if you discovered you were half … god? That’s what happens in the Percy Jackson series. Demigod Percy goes on quests, helps protect the other demigods and discovers who he is in this fantasy series. Rick Riordan’s other mythological-based stories are also fun to read. And you may also enjoy the books by other authors published by his Rick Riordan Presents imprint.
Favorite Elementary School Audiobooks
The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner – Four orphaned children discover an abandoned boxcar in the woods and decide to make a home for themselves there without a grown up. They fix the place up, transforming it. But when one falls sick, they must trust an adult to help them. And they discover that the grandfather they were running from wasn’t the scary man they thought. Other books in this series are mysteries, full of adventure, after they’ve gone to live with their grandfather.
The Fudge series by Judy Blume – Much like the Ramona series, these books have been delighting readers for generations. The Fudge books are tales of growing up, friendship and finding one’s place in the world. Sweet and entertaining, these were fun to share with my kids — and dare I say, they are among the best family audiobooks of all time.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg – A tween bored of her life saves her money and convinces one of her younger brothers to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her. There, they sleep in stately antique beds, bathe in fountains and dodge guards — as well as try to solve a mystery of a new statue. It’s a charming, imaginative tale perfect for kids and parents who enjoy exploring “what if.”
Best Audiobooks for Tweens and Teens
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng – A tween who is fascinated by Carl Sagan wants to launch his iPod into space to let alien lifeforms know what life on Earth is like. He goes on a grand journey to make it happen, meeting a variety of people along the way who help him learn what family really means.
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins – From the moment Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute, taking the place of her sister who was chosen for the Hunger Games — a national reality show where kids fight to the death — my kids and I were hooked on the story of courage, control and survival. These are among the best audiobooks for really long car rides.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – What if everything we thought we knew about time and space was wrong? In A Wrinkle in Time, a sci-fi fantasy action novel, explores this. The very fabric of the universe is rewoven in a fascinating tale. This will have you rethinking your view of the world — and might just prompt some excellent family conversations as well.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman – A hidden door in a rambling old house leads to a fantasy version of life for Coraline. But all is not as it seems. My kids and I especially loved the creepy nature of this entertaining novel by a beloved British author.
Teens and Tweens Will Also Enjoy…
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen – When Emma is unexpectedly sent to stay with her mother’s family, pieces of her personal puzzle begin to fall into place. Emma remembers her mother’s stories of this place, but not being there — and not much else about her mother. But she has been there, and the people she meets help her to piece together a family history she didn’t know she was missing.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Set in 1939 in Nazi Germany, this book tells the story of an orphan girl with a weakness for books, a foster father who teaches her to read and the people whose lives she lights up with the blessing of a story.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give, or THUG, should be required reading. This modern story about a police shooting of a black teen during a traffic stop, and its aftermath for the friend who was with them and their entire community is powerful and gut-wrenching. It’s also a beautiful story of courage, friendship and learning to use one’s voice.
Great Audiobooks for the Older Kids
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling – Aven Green is just a normal teen who likes ice cream and hanging out with her friends. She’s just a normal teen who was born with no arms and has adapted to live as much like everyone else as possible. This interesting, curious and brilliant story sensitively shares what a life without arms is like within a greater story of friendship and discovery.
The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras – Head to medieval Scotland for the story of 12-year-old Drest, who wields a sword as well as her brothers. She’s on a mission to find and free her brothers and father. But along the way, she’s going to learn a few things about herself.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes – When a black boy is shot, his spirit isn’t ready to accept it yet. What happened? How did this happen? As he travels between friends and family, trying to unlock his own memories, there’s one thing that’s for sure: this senseless tragedy should have never happened at all. Filled with tidbits of actual history and snapshots of friendship, love and family, this book is touching and eye opening.
Cog by Greg van Eekhout – Sure, Cog is a machine. A robot, to be precise. But he looks like a boy and he lives with Gina, his creator, learning to learn. But Cog can exercise free will. When he chooses to save a dog in the street, everything he knows of life is upended. Suddenly he’s living in a lab without Gina and meeting all sorts of other robots — some of whom are ready to also practice some free will. This is a fun and imaginative story of artificial intelligence and friendship.
Family-Friendly Audiobooks for All Ages
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne – In the Hundred Acre Wood live Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Tigger and Eeyore, a band of friends who together with the boy Christopher Robin have a bevy of adventures.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White – This classic tale of a remarkable pig, a brilliant spider and their barnyard (and human) friends is as wonderful to read as an adult as it was a child. Join Wilbur, Charlotte and all the others in a discovery of friendship and farm life.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – From the first lines of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to the very last of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Harry Potter series is an engrossing tale of witchcraft, wizardry, family and friendship. And it doesn’t lack action and adventure as well. And with seven volumes, these great audiobooks will keep your family listening for many long car rides. Narrated by voice actor Jim Dale
Bernard Pepperlin by Cara Hoffman – What if the drowsy Dormouse escaped Wonderland and found himself in New York City — right in the middle of a plot by a band of rats to stop time? It will take all his courage to join together with new friends and stop it before it’s too late.
Audiobook Classics for the Whole Family
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – A door at the back of a wardrobe leads to a wondrous world struck in winter and full of adventure — and a little danger too. Four siblings — Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy — travel there in this magical fantasy story of courage and sacrifice.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – When Charlie finds a coveted Golden Ticket, he and his grandfather are invited into the mysterious chocolate factory with several other children. But while the other kids are greedy, selfish or otherwise rude, Charlie is just glad to be there. And that makes all the difference. While you’re at it, consider some of Roald Dahl’s other books in the Roald Dahl Audio Collection. Our favorites include James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Choosing the Best Family Audiobooks for Your Family
Which book is right for your family? From action and adventure to friendship and fantasy, choose one that you all might not otherwise read. It might just surprise you. The best family audiobooks are the ones you enjoy together.
There are so many wonderful audiobooks to share with your family on road trips. These are just the start. From fantastical worlds like those in Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon (narrated by the charming David Tennant!) and Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach to modern classics from authors like Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn Dixie, Flora & Ulysses, etc) and Philip Pullman (his Dark Materials trilogy, for example), there are so many choices for every interest level. Try one of these books, or discover your own new favorite.
Between books and road trip games, you might just find that the drive is as fun as the trip.
You may be asking yourself why audiobooks? Why not just order books for your kids? Well, when you’re traveling audiobooks don’t take up space. When you’re home? Audiobooks add a different dimension to reading for kids.
“Our family loves audiobooks! Kids are naturally good at multitasking so they will listen to audiobooks while drawing, playing LEGOs or even cleaning their room. My kids have easy access to their online library through their Alexa devices which we love. They can spend hours listening to a good book which means I get a much needed break throughout the day!”
TravelingMom Breeze Leonard
How Alexa Can Read to Your Children
Here’s the real reason you want an Audible membership: Alexa can read to your kids! Because Audible is an Amazon service, purchases are available through your Alexa device. While audiobooks can be read by any Alexa, we particularly love the Echo Dot Kids Edition.
Since it was designed for kids and includes parental controls you can be sure that it won’t allow young ones access to sensitive material. In plain English, if you’ve ordered 50 Shades of Grey, the Echo Dot won’t read it to your kids.
How to Get a Free Audiobook!
Sign up for Amazon Audible to get 1 free audiobook!
- 30 days of membership free, plus 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals to get you started.
- After trial, you’ll get 3 titles each month: 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals of your choice.
- Quick & easy exchanges. Swap any audiobook you don’t love.
- Cancel online anytime, but keep your entire library forever. SIGN UP HERE!