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25+ Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

The season of family road trips must be upon us because I’m getting LOTS of emails and messages asking for recommendations for the best audiobooks for family road trips.

Fortunately, I’ve been preparing for this post for years without even knowing it. If you’re headed out on a long trip, want to keep your kids from going nuts while you’re running errands around town, or need something to entertain them during quiet time, all of these are books you can’t miss with.

I hope you’ll love them too!

And if you’re new to Audible, you can grab a free month here and download one of these books for free (and you’ll own it forever, even if you cancel your subscription after the free month).

 

If you want your kids to be better at listening to audiobooks, try keeping their hands busy! Pop in your email and I’ll send you a list of 20+ ideas your kids can do while listening to an audiobook!

best audiobooks for a family road trip

25+ Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

Peter and the StarcatchersPeter and the Star Catchers by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson
Whenever someone tells me they just finished listening to Harry Potter, I always recommend this audiobook. The story isn’t very similar (it’s a Peter Pan story, brilliantly and hilariously reimagined), but it’s full of magic AND it’s narrated by Jim Dale, who reads the Harry Potter audiobooks. This is a do not miss. Also there are also five books in the series, so you won’t be running out of listening material anytime soon. (Full review here)

 

 

the bartimaeus trilogyThe Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
This series was a complete lucky accident – Bart and I were heading on a road trip in our childless days and looking through the adult audiobooks and this one had been mis-shelved. Since it included the word “Bart,” my husband naturally picked it up and the trilogy became one of our all-time favorites. The story about a magician’s young apprentice who, hoping to get revenge on a magician who humiliated him, summons a djinni he cannot even BEGIN to really control, is gripping, the narration is INSANELY good, and we just started listening to it with our girls this spring. The first book in the series is The Amulet of Samarkand.

 

ways to make sunshineWays to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson
If you love the world of Ramona Quimby and the other inhabitants of Klickitat Street, you’ll love this book about another ordinary family living in Portland and dealing with the ordinary issues of growing up. The stories of Ryan Hart and her family are sweet and funny and ones that children will relate to – from moving to a new house to hunting for treasures at the Portland Saturday Market with her best friend. There are four books in the series, so you’ll be going for a while!

 

 

Princess AcademyPrincess Academy by Shannon Hale
I read this book on paper, then Bart and I listened to it when we moved to Boston and had days of driving a U-Haul together, and the girls and I just listened to a few years ago. Don’t let the title fool you – this book isn’t just for girls. All six of us are huge fans, especially because of the full-cast audio with original music. (Full review here)

 

 

 

savvy bookSavvy by Ingrid Law
I just LOVE this book about a family where everyone gets a magical talent (a savvy) when they turn 13. But just before Mibs’ 13th birthday, a tragedy occurs and now Mibs is desperately hoping her savvy will turn out to be something that can save her family. This is one that I mentioned in my list of the MOST listened to audiobooks in our Audible library. (Full review here)

 

 

 

the trumpet of the swanThe Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
I’m pretty sure Ella has listened to this audiobook at least a half dozen times and it was one of my favorite books as a child. This one is a great one if your kids are a little younger, but still fun if they’re older too.

 

 

ghostGhost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost is a very fast runner – starting with a run from his dangerous father when he was a little boy. Now, he mostly runs away from his problems until an Olympic-runner-turned-coach sees Ghost’s incredible raw talent and wants to help him harness it for the Junior Olympics. But Ghost will have to stop running from his past in order for that to happen and that might be the hardest thing he’s ever done. This is the first book in a four-book series, each of which focuses on a different member of the track team. Jason Reynolds is a big name in the world of children’s literature for good reason – this book is FIRE.

 

whatever afterWhatever After by Sarah Mylnowski
This is one of my kids’ FAVORITE series, and although it’s not high-brow literature, it’s a fun series of fractured fairy tales. The’ve listened to them ALL multiple times and I listened to the first one at my oldest daughter’s request.

 

 

a single shardA Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
When I was working more seriously on reading all the Newbery winners, I picked this one up, knowing exactly nothing about it. A story about potters in 12th century Korea might not sound thrilling but this book is PHENOMENAL. I listened to it again with my girls a few years ago and we all were entranced. I may have gotten teary in the driver’s seat multiple times.  (Full review here)

 

 

from the mixed up files of basil e frankweilerFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
I had read part of this book but never finished it as a child. Listening to it as a family was a DELIGHT and I just loved every bit of this book about two siblings that run away from home and live, undetected, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

 

 

ribsy by beverly clearyRibsy by Beverly Cleary
I’m fairly sure at this point that Bart and I could recite the entire book from memory since Star listened to this on repeat the year she was 3. Beverly Clearly is a master and her audiobooks are just a delight.

 

 

all thirteenAll Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat
I’ve been talking abut this book for years because it’s just SO GOOD, so if you haven’t read it yet, this is your signal that now is the time to go pick it up. The audiobook made this incredible true story come vividly to life for me and even though I knew the ending, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. And seeing the efforts made to get them out makes it even more incredible that they actually succeeded.

 

 

diceys songHomecoming and Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt
I didn’t read this series until I was an adult and I loved every second of this story about four children abandoned by their mother who walk hundreds of miles to find a home. They’re pretty long, so they’re great if you have hours and hours of time on the road. I think my girls are still a LITTLE young, but I can’t wait to listen together in another few years.

 

best audiobooks for family road trips

skulduggery pleasantSkulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Five minutes into this audiobook and I had to stop because I knew Bart would hate to miss this one. We laughed our faces off listening to this one together as we drove back and forth to grad school in 2009. It’s a mystery with a young girl and a skeleton detective determined to solve it and it’s wildly inventive and super funny. Note that I’ve only listened to the first book in the series and I’ve heard that subsequent books can get fairly dark – Ella has listened to most of the series now but my 10 year old found them a little too creepy. (Full review here)

 

ms rapscotts girlsMs. Rapscott’s Girls by Elise Primavera
Ms. Rapscott is a little bit of a Mary Poppins, running a boarding school tucked inside a lighthouse for children who have extremely busy parents. The children aren’t thrilled to be there at first (would you, if you arrived in a box?), but they quickly learn that they are in for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

 

the penderwicksThe Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This series is pretty recent (in the last ten years), but it has the feel of a classic and we all loved these stories about four sisters and their summer vacation. There’s a reason these books are BELOVED. We’ve listened to many of the books in the series on road trips and we all just love them.

 

 

Mrs. Piggle WiggleMrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
This might be the most listened to series in our home. Ella has listened to them on CD and on the tablet dozens of times over the years and they just never get old with childhood bad habits (staying up too late, picky eating, etc) getting cured by Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s inventive cures.

 

 

the very nearly honorable league of piratesThe Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates by Caroline Carlson
I would listen to Katherine Kellgren narrate a phone book (she’s the reader on both the Bloody Jack series and one of my all-time favorite audiobooks, My Lady Jane) and she’s no disappointment in this delightful series of books about a girl who longs to be a pirate but gets sent to finishing school instead.

 

 

chitty chitty bang bangChitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
My girls have all listened to the audiobooks of this series on repeat for years. When we watched the movie, they kept saying, “This is not like the books!” Those are my girls.

 

 

 

narwhal and jellyNarwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton
We listened to this audio production on a road trip several years ago and my girls were OBSESSED with it. (And to be honest, I was too – I still sing some of the little songs). It’s five books in one for a total of about an hour and I cannot rave enough about it.

 

 

sideways stories from wayside schoolSideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Both of my older girls have listened to these stories many many times on audio about Wayside School where everything is a little (okay, lot) weird. The chapters are more episodic so that’s nice if you’re starting and stopping a lot. Plus, there is also Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger (which isn’t on Audible) and Wayside School is Falling Down (which is).

 

 

matilda audioMatilda by Roald Dahl
I think Roald Dahl’s books are just MADE for listening and I could have added many of his titles (right now, Star is obsessed with Fantastic Mr. Fox and has listened at least a dozen times since the beginning of the year). Matilda is one of my favorites, plus it’s narrated by Kate Winslet.

 

 

when stars are scattered bookWhen Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamison and Omar Mohamed
You might think a graphic novel is really best enjoyed when you can see the . . . you know, graphics. But the audio version of this stunning book is out to prove you wrong with a full-cast narration that brings this true story of a young boy living in a refuge camp in Kenya, caring for his non-verbal younger brother and trying to attend school to life in the most stunning way. In fact, people who have listened to this audiobook tell me they feel sorry for people who read it on paper instead of getting to experience the audio version. This is a terrific one for both children (probably about 8+) and adults!

 

Amari and the night brothersAmari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston
I read this aloud to my children and we were all completely sucked in! Amari’s mourning the disappearance of her beloved older brother (the police say he’s almost certainly dead), but when she gets a pre-recorded message from him, she discovers that there is a supernatural world she’s known nothing about and that her brother was heavily involved before his disappearance. Joining this world isn’t going to be easy, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes to find out what happened to her brother. And she better mean it, because “whatever it takes” turns out to be a LOT.

 

A place to hang the moonA Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
This historical fiction title absolutely charmed me and it’s been one of my favorite read-alouds in the past couple of years. Three young children lose their grandmother, leaving them orphans and no place to go. Her lawyer suggests that, since so many children are being shipped out to the English countryside during the bombings, they might join the exodus and conveniently not mention that they don’t actually have a family. And just maybe the family that temporarily takes them in will want to keep them forever. This book has all the feelings of a classic and I definitely shed some tears at the end. Plus it’s included on Audible Plus!
bunnicula audiobookBunnicula by Victor Barber
This is such a perfect listen because each individual book is not too long, and it’s not overly scary, just the right amount spooky. Bunnicula is a rabbit that’s found by a family when they go to see a Dracula movie. They bring the little bunny home, but the other pets in the house are convinced that Bunnicula is a vampire rabbit and out to get every other member of the family. My kids have listened to this a million times over the years.
best read-aloud booksThe Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R. A. Spratt, illustrated by Dan Santat
Ella has LONG loved Nanny Piggins and begged me to read it aloud to everyone. These books are just so fun and wacky – we blew through it so fast! Now we own all the audiobooks and they’re on constant repeat at our house (I was able to snag them for $5 or $6 each!)
the last mapmaker bookThe Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat 
I read this aloud a couple of years ago and it’s phenomanal. Sai works for the most celebrated mapmaker in the kingdom, but she lives in fear of someone discovering that she isn’t of the proper rank. Luck is on her side, though, when the mapmaker is invited on a discovery voyage to find a mysterious new land and he asks her to accompany her. High adventures and lots of clever twists and turns. (Full review here)
glitchGlitch by Laura Martin
We loved this time travel novel! It switches back and forth between the POV of the main girl and boy (there are two different narrators for the audio version) and it’s quick moving with lots of fun history moments woven in. In fact, I loved it so much, it nabbed a spot on last year’s Summer Reading Guide!
Shipwreck at the bottom of the worldShipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong
I first learned about Shackleton in college when a friend wrote a paper about him and I was hooked on this incredible story of Ernest Shackleton and his 27 men who got trapped in ice as they attempted to cross Antarctica and then spent five months camping on ice floes, finally navigating 800 miles of open ocean in a tiny boat to find a rescue ship. I can’t stop thinking about this one!
the thief lord bookThe Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
My girls love Cornelia Funke and have listened to many of her books, but I won’t let them listen to this one without me. The narration is so good thatI refuse to read this one when the audiobook is an option. Bart and I listened to it together when we were in grad school and Bart loved it so much, he suggested the name Prosper ever time we were trying to name a baby (before we knew they were girls).
the candy shop wars bookThe Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
Who could dislike a book with kids using magical candy to fight evil magicians? When Nate moves, he joins a club with three other kids from the neighborhood, The Blue Falcons. But when a new candy shop opens in their town, the Blue Falcons start doing errands for the owner, who gives them magical candy as a reward! This one is super cheap and my kids LOVE it.
Out of My MindOut of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
I read this years ago and it just about ripped my heart out – then I read it aloud to my kids and we blew through it because we were all so into it. Melody is born with some severe handicaps and many people believe she has no mental abilities at all, but she’s actually extremely bright, just unable to communicate much. When she finally gets a computer that allows her to express her thoughts, her whole world is opened up, but she quickly realizes that her peers might not be as thrilled as she is that she can now speak.

 

I hope your family will love these audiobooks as much as we have – if you have other recommendations or questions about using audiobooks with your children, leave a note in the comments!

 

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Photos by Heather Mildenstein

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41 Comments

  1. Sarah Mylnowski’s Upside Down Magic series is also fantastic to listen to. My son and I have loved it, and are anxiously awaiting the next release which isn’t until next fall.

    thanks for these suggestions, we are always looking for more books to listen to together in the car.

  2. I haven’t read or listened to all of these so I’m happy to add a few more to my Audible library. I don’t like to think about how much money we’ve spent there over the years. My oldest boys burn through credits so fast. I figure it’s not the worst addiction to have.

  3. Another great series by Jonathan Stroud is the Lockwood & Co books. Not for little kids that scare easily though, because some parts were so tense and creepy that even I was anxious! But so, so good. A series we just started on CD is the Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer. My boys ages 6-10 (the 3yo just goes along with it) love it. There’s enough Viking burp and fart jokes sprinkled throughout to make them laugh uproariously. It’s a fun intro into Norse mythology, Druidic magic and even some early Christianity. We haven’t gotten through all three books yet (book one was better than book two in my opinion) but The Sea of Trolls gets enthusiastic thumbs up from my boys. It’s also wonderfully narratated by an Irishman.

  4. So many good ones on this list! Another really fun series on audio (lovely British accents!) Is the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynn Jones. Great for young Harry Potter fans – lot’s of fun magic, but none of the scary stuff.

  5. Absolutely the best audiobook all six of us in the family loved was How To Train Your Dragon read by David Tennant. I had absolutely no interest in the book based on the movie or book blurb, but the writing is actually very clever and Tennant’s cast of Vikings is incredible.

    1. I was going to suggest How to Train your Dragon as well! The movie is really roughly based on the book- they are pretty different from one another, but we love both! And the reader for the audiobook is really good. they are so clever and hilarious!

    2. I was going to say the same thing! The movie bears only a slight relation to the books. And there are 12 of them to keep you going. Tennant is brilliant, and the stories are funny, thoughtful, and wonderful for the whole family.

  6. I loved Mixed up files and Walk Two Moons. We just finished princess academy and the kids loved it (except for the music!) The Whatever After series has been fun but I prefer them to read those on their own. 😉 thanks for all the suggestions!

  7. Just listen to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang per your recommendation and the kids loved it and had the same reaction when they saw the movie. My favorite is Peter in the Starcatchers, I just love Jim Dale. Thanks for this list, it gives me a lot that I have never heard of. We just love audiobooks.

  8. In reference to your Katherine Kellgren comment I too could listen to anything she reads! So I have to respond and say don’t forget about her reading of Maryrose Wood’s delightful series The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. My daughter had already read the entire series twice but LOVES to listen to the audiobook. She will often mimic Ms. Kellgren’s Lady Constance. Please tell me you’ve heard of this series?!!

      1. We are huge fans of Maryrose Wood! Genius writer we adore the Incorribible Children of Ashton Place. Great series for road-trip!

  9. Oh I must add the whole Beverly Cleary series Ramona and Judy Blume’s series of Fudge books. We laughed and laughed at both. My kids clapped at the end of Penderwicks because the loved it so much!

  10. My kids love the 13-story Treehouse audio books. They’re really fun and feature great Australian accents. We’ve also been fans of Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls. Pretty much anything by Meg Cabot is great, but this is particularly great on audio.

  11. We are big audiobook lovers at our house so we will for sure be checking out the ones on this list that we haven’t read yet. One series we discovered on accident last summer and loved was the Gooney Bird Greene collection by Lois Lowry.

    1. so glad I found all these great audiobook ideas before our road trip. When I saw Peter and the Star Catchers I knew I would like your suggestions. We happened upon Mister Max: the book of secrets by Cynthia Voigt and really enjoyed it and the sequels. My boys love Hatchet and other Gary Paulsen stories and my daughter is a big fan of the Green Ember series on audio.

    2. Yes! I was going to suggest the Redwall books! They are read by a whole cast, all doing these wonderful voices for the many animal characters. The stories are intriguing and fascinating and my husband and I found they were as interesting to us as they were to my daughter, and there are quite a few to choose from!

  12. Everyone in our family age 10 and up loved Skulduggery Pleasant. However, our 6 year old was a little lost and a lot scared a few chapters in. The music between chapters was scary to her and the break in during of the middle of the night put her over the edge. So I’d say it’s a good book for ages 9+. And for those ages, it’s fantastic!

  13. We listened to all of the Little House on the Prairie books and loved them. I’m not sure if our five year old boy or my wife and I liked them more.
    Cherry Jones was the reader and did an amazing job. There are also multiple times a fiddle is played and there is singing which brings an extra element to the audio book.

  14. Thanks for putting this list together. We just listened to Skullduggery and loved it! Look forward to exploring more.

  15. Thank you for these! We do a lot of road trips and camping, plus traveling for activities. Can’t wait to check a few out. Our boys (ages 9 & 6) also love some podcasts. Steve Rinella’s Meat Eater has a lot of interesting and educational ones!

  16. I love your oucks. I havecread most if them with my boys. When they were young we always had z story playing in the car. Here’s a great series you might like, it’s from R.L. LaFevers, the first book of the series is Theodosia and the Serpent of Choas. It’s a fun and fast paced book.

  17. “Beethoven Lives Upstairs”. We listened to it on CD, over and over in the car. Amazing recording. It’s a series that includes several other composers but Beethoven Lives Upstairs was our favorite!

    1. Sorry for the duplicate comment! It looked as if it didn’t process the first time and I can’t figure out how to delete it. Love your content!

  18. Our family’s very favorite audiobook series is the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson! My husband and I may have loved them even more than our kiddos. There are four books in the series – each of which gets better than the previous one. Andrew Peterson reads the audiobooks and does an amazing job with all the voices! The four books are: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness; North! Or be Eaten; A Monster in the Hollows; The Warden and the Wolf King. There are many made up lands in this series and it’s very helpful to hear the author pronounce them. I absolutely cannot recommend this series enough! We listened on long road trips with a 2-year-old, 4-year-old, 7-year-old, and 10-year-old.

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