40 favorite audiobooks for kids

40 favorite audiobooks for kids

I’ve been listening to audiobooks more these past few months than I have in years. I got hooked with a free trial of Audible.com (you can get yours here) and haven’t looked back.

I mostly listen to audiobooks while I’m running, driving solo, or washing dishes, but with summer road trips coming up, I wanted to curate a list of terrific audiobooks for kids.

I’m sharing my own family’s favorites, the ones we’re looking forward to listening to in the car and during quiet time this summer, and your favorites that you shared on facebook.

Get ready to take notes: there’s lots of good books to choose from here. Happy reading!

(A note about the age recommendations: it’s tough to recommend books based on age alone because so much depends on the individual child. If you have a question about whether or not a book is appropriate for your kid, leave a question in comments. This great community of readers will help you out.)

My kids’ faves:

  1. The Ramona Quimby series.
  2. The Henry Huggins series.
  3. The House at Pooh Corner (the version performed by Peter Dennis)
  4. Little House in the Big Woods (the whole series as read by Cherry Jones is fantastic)
  5. Charlotte’s Web
  6. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  7. The Wind in the Willows (BBC edition)
  8. Come On, Seabiscuit

Books our whole family can listen to together (maybe on our summer road trips?)

  1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  2. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
  3. Misty of Chincoteague
  4. My Father’s Dragon
  5. Hank the Cowdog
  6. The Mysterious Benedict Society
  7. How to Train Your Dragon
  8. Ballet Shoes (Kathleen Kelly’s favorite)
  9. Matilda (read by Kate Winslet)

Your suggestions for younger-ish kids:

  1. The Magic Tree House
  2. Thornton Burgess animal stories
  3. Stuart Little
  4. The Froggy Books
  5. The Betsy-Tacy books

Your suggestions for grade schoolers (and older):

  1. The Wingfeather Saga
  2. The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
  3. Frindle
  4. The Penderwicks
  5. The Boxcar Children
  6. Alice in Wonderland
  7. The Willoughbys
  8. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (and the whole Fudge series)
  9. Thimble Summer
  10. Bunnicula

 Your suggestions for older grade school and middle school kids:

  1. A Wrinkle in Time
  2. The Wizard of Oz (performed by Anne Hathaway)
  3. The True Meaning of Smek Day
  4. Redwall
  5. Peter and the Starcatchers (narrated by Dave Barry)
  6. Inkheart
  7. Princess Academy
  8. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Have a great audiobook recommendation? Share it with us in comments. 

P.S. 40 favorite audiobooks for grown-ups.

40 favorite audiobooks for kids. (perfect for those summer road trips!) | Modern Mrs Darcy

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87 comments

  1. Heather C says:

    Great list! On our last road trip, we listened to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. The kids LOVED it and I found it enjoyable too.

  2. Clayre says:

    Our family took a road trip this last weekend (20 hours of driving total) and listened to Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie off and on during the drive and absolutely loved it! My son will be 4 in August and so I know most of it went over his head but I was amazed at how absorbed he was in the story. He kept begging for us to listen to it. My daughter is almost 2 and she wasn’t really listening but was mostly content to have it on and would shout “Tinkerbelle” whenever she heard the reader say her name. I’m just hoping the parts where Tink calls Peter a “silly little ass” went unnoticed 😉
    Anyway we are definitely going to be listening to more audiobooks from now on, perhaps during my son’s rest time, since he is done napping, so thank you for the recommendations!

  3. Katie says:

    Oh, this is perfect! I was just about to start researching some new audiobooks for our road trip this summer. We are driving from Houston to Richmond, VA in a couple of weeks and working hard to find lots to keep our two boys occupied. We have read some of these but there are lots of new ones here. One that I didn’t see included is the Roald Dahl collection read by Roald Dahl. We love that one!

  4. Mimi says:

    I agree that the Hank the Cowdog series is great fun for the entire family. We’ve listened to several of those on long trips. I also remember a summer day in Arizona sitting in our car in a restaurant parking lot because we didn’t want to stop listening to “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  5. Kyrie says:

    I have four girls, ages 3, 5, 7, and 9. We have LOVED our Audible membership. Some of our favorites: The Secret Garden (read by Finola Hughes), the Narnia series (the HarperAudio version), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dragon Rider, The Trumpet of the Swan, Pinky Pye, The Hobbit, the Tumtum & Nutmeg series, the Borrowers series…we have quite a bit of commuting to do and rely on our audiobooks! 🙂

  6. Whitney says:

    I think my son’s childhood will forever sound like Jim Dale reading Harry Potter. He’s insanely good and they’re worth listening to over and over!

  7. Stephanie says:

    If you like the Penderwicks, you should definitely give the “orignal Penderwicks,” Elizabeth Enright’s series called The Melendy Quartet (The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Four, and Spiderweb for Two) a try! They are of their time, so there are some little blips I don’t love, but overall the stories are very well done. Perennial favorites of the whole family.

    Also consider Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone Away, all done by an excellent actress (Pamela Dillman).

  8. Stephanie says:

    P.S. Knowing you have a sensitive family, as I do, I can recommend saving Then There Were Four until you’ve “previewed” it for your kids; there is a mean, alcoholic uncle of a friend in the story line. Also a kidnapping that ends happily in The Saturdays. I’d start with The Four-Story Mistake, then perhaps Spiderweb for Two, then The Saturdays, with Then/Four last.

  9. Faith R says:

    Love this list!! So many favorites from my childhood here. I listened to the whole Inkheart series on audio book. The first one is narrated by Lynda Redgrave and it is beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the reading by Brenden Fraser.

    My daughter also really enjoyed the City of Ember series, but she said it was one of the rare instances when the movie was better than the book.

  10. Alexis Neal says:

    Great suggestions! Here are a few more I’ve really enjoyed:

    Dragon Rider, by Cornelia Funke (narrated by Brendan Fraser, who does a fantastic job)
    The Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer (lots of delicious Irish/UK accents)
    The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (narrated by Gaiman, who has the Best. Voice. Ever. His Odd and the Frost Giants is also excellent)
    The Stoneheart Trilogy, by Charlie Fletcher (narrated by Jim Dale of Harry Potter fame)
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl (narrated by Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame)
    The Thirteen Clocks, by James Thurber (delightful nonsensical fantasy)
    The Ender’s Game series, by Orson Scott Card (for slightly older readers)

    And here’s my post on audiobook recommendations.
    http://quantum-meruit.blogspot.com/2012/05/top-shelf-10-books-for-road.html

  11. kristen says:

    i love the idea of audio books for my kids but haven’t figured out logistics…when do your kiddos listen? and how? my kindle doesn’t have audio…kind of wish it did now.

    • Anne says:

      I bought a $20 cd player from Target for cds. I also bought a $30 bluetooth speaker so I could play audible books or stuff on itunes in the car (because my car and car stereo are OLD!) or loud enough for everyone to hear in the kitchen or dining room. It was tough to get those logistics figured out.

    • Shay says:

      If you have an iPod, iPad or an iPhone (that you don’t mind sharing for listening), a lot of these audio books are available through my local library on Overdrive. I’ve downloaded the app and can listen straight from there. While my library doesn’t have all of these titles, they have quite a few, and I don’t need to pay a fee to subscribe or purchase them. Good luck!

  12. Erin says:

    I love this! Some of our favorites-

    A Cricket in Times Square (read by Tony Shaloub)
    The Phantom Tollbooth (read by Neil Patrick Harris)
    Pippi Longstocking

  13. What a great list! Our kids love audiobooks. Recently, we’ve been listening to a lot of Jim Weiss. Most of his works are abridged versions of classic but that’s perfect for our age range of kids (3-6).

  14. ruth says:

    How to Train Your Dragon . . . we just finished My Father’s Dragon and J loved it. Maybe I’ll check that out.
    Narrated by David Tennant? Sold!

  15. Nikki says:

    We LOVED “The Secret Garden” by Focus on the Family Radio Theater. In fact, they have many great ones! Kids mesmerized:)

  16. Andrea says:

    I recently bought “The Enchanted Collection.” It has five books: Little Women, Black Beauty, The Wind in the Willows, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden and it only costs one credit.

  17. Eve says:

    My kids (7 & 8) are currently enjoying “The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom”. I second “Hank the Cowdog”. Thanks for this post! As an educator, I’m saddened that listening to stories is becoming a lost art.

  18. Kerry says:

    Love this so much. I love Neil Patrick Harris narration. To this list I add Just So Stories –Boris Karloff and not sure of exact title by James Herriot Animal Stories —-best accent and vocabulary. Love!

  19. This is great! I don’t have kids (yet), so I’d never even thought about there being audio books for kids. I think I’d enjoy some of these again too, since I love re-reading childhood classics every time I go home to my parents’ house!

  20. Naomi D. says:

    So excited to see The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson listed! I recently finished reading the first three books of this series and was so drawn into the story. I am eager to read them with own boys (but need to wait until they are a little older–I thought the series would be more appropriate for older elementary and above). An absolutely excellent series!

  21. harmony says:

    Have you had much luck finding audiobooks from some of the free sites that are good quality narration? I feel like audiobooks can be really expensive…often more expensive than buying the book. I love having them and its great for my kids when they have their afternoon quiet times or for travel….but it gets spendy. Our library has a very limited selection.

    • Tina says:

      Check with your library for audiobook rentals. They may have discs at the library, but most libraries also have an on-line library of e-books and audiobooks that can be downloaded (though they do expire after a certain amount of time)

  22. Whitney says:

    Hi Anne,

    I am a Kindergarten teacher at a Charter School (we use a lot of Susan Wise Bauer and she is coming for a 3 day training in July). I have quite a few students that are reading a few grades above grade level and I am running into the problem of recommending 4th grade level books that are not too scary or developmentally inappropriate for a six year old (especially boys-I only have sisters!). Any thoughts?

    • Anne says:

      Oh my goodness, I completely understand, having had the same issue with my own kids. I’ve had good luck going through the book lists—typically arranged by grade—on homeschool lists on sites like Timberdoodle and Memoria Press, and filtering by description.

      Also, have you seen my kid lit guide Paper Gains? If you don’t have one, email me at modern mrs darcy at gmail dot com and I’ll send you a copy.

  23. Tina says:

    I love book lists. I need to keep a book of book lists :0)

    My daughter is 8, loves both reading and audiobooks. She listens to audiobooks all day long while she is working on chores, playing, or being creative. Some of her favorites that she goes back to over and over again are:

    The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West (there are 5 as of right now in the series)
    Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
    All of the Dr. Doolittle books by Hugh Lofting
    The Incredible Journey by Shelia Burnford

    I know there are more, but I loose track of what she is listening too!

  24. Amanda Gregory says:

    Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (and read by him) was a hit with my 2, 4, and 6 year old. Also Kevin Henkes’ The Year of Billy Miller.

  25. Des says:

    For 4th grade on up……Highly recommend Newberry winner: “When you Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead. I think it would be a great read-aloud/listen to.

  26. Mandy says:

    Such a great list 🙂
    We too loved Peter Pan, and Peter Pan in Scarlet (both read by Tim Curry)
    We also just got the “How to train your dragon” series (read by David Tennant!)
    And We LOVED the Wondla series (read by Terri Hatcher)

  27. Kristen says:

    I guess I’m new to audi books. What do you listen to them on? Do you need head phones to listen? Do you buy these books on your kindle and then can listen to them with audio, sorry for all the questions. Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      There are many ways to listen to audiobooks but I usually use the free Audible app on my iPhone. (I buy them on Audible’s website—I have a plan—and then automatically download the files to my phone like I would with a podcast.) You don’t need headphones unless you’re in a public place.

  28. Laura says:

    Great list! We are listening to the Ramona series now and love it. We’ve listened to the Pooh books read by Peter Dennis and really love those too. Just bought Littlt eHOuse in the Big Woods read by Cherry Dennis and am looking forward to that.

    Another great one, for the younger set, is the Frog and Toad series, read by the author, Peter Lobel.

  29. Cheryl says:

    Holes was a great e-book as was A Cricket in Times Square.

    We love picking up E-Books at Cracker Barrels and listening on long drives. Then they can be returned to any other Cracker Barrel in the country for a fee of about $3.99!

  30. Jennifer Thomson says:

    My 6 year old son and I have loved listening to:
    The Lucky book series by Susan Patron (I liked the first one the best):
    Lucky Breaks
    Lucky for Good
    The Higher Power of Lucky
    Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
    The Magic Tree House Series (ALL of them)
    The Magic School Bus (ALL of them, usually come with books)
    Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
    Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
    The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams – spoiler alert: The children go back in time to Revolutionary France so there a part of the story that focuses on the guillotine. Two of the kids are homeschooled which is nice to have in a book!!
    Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

  31. Paige Jobe says:

    What a fantastic list! We love audiobooks too. We listened to Watership Down on our last road trip and the whole family loved it! Also, our oldest son (10) with dyslexia used to struggle painfully with reading. Now that he’s discovered audiobooks, he’s on his 4th book in the Guardians of Ga’hoole series!!

  32. Elizabeth Williams says:

    RECOMMENDED: The Little Prince Narrated by Richard Burton (GRAMMY AWARD-WINNER “Best Children’s Recording”)… As a mother of two children and a music teacher in the Los Angeles School System for 20 years, I absolutely recommend this recording above all others for families who want to be entertained and enlightened. Richard Burton’s voice is thrilling to listen to. The other cast members on this CD are also excellent and thoroughly charming. The background music score is brilliant. It is easy to see why this recording won a Grammy Award for “Best Children’s Recording” – it is without a doubt the most exceptional dramatization of Antoine de St. Exupery’s classic story. Download on iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-little-prince/id437612387?ign-mpt=uo=4

  33. Beth says:

    The Stephen Fry read Harry Potter audiobooks have always been a big hit in our house! I think we could all nearly recite the whole series off by heart its been that well listened to!
    I’ve also just recently found a website called Stories from a Sandman (http://sandmanstories.com/) which my lot love! There are quite a few original short stories that you can download onto a computer or into an app, so its been ideal for us! Definitely worth a look as they give away free ones too 🙂

  34. Jen says:

    I have a 6 and 5 year old daughters (and a 2 year old). We’re going to be driving about 30 – 35 hours over the next 3 weeks. I want to get a handful of audiobooks for these long car rides. I plan to look in my library for the stories the auther shared as her kids favorites. Are all of those stories good for a 5 and 6 year old?

    Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      I think all the titles listed under “my kids’ faves” would be good for that age range. And really, I can’t say enough good things about Little House and Beverly Cleary, especially the ones read by Neil Patrick Harris. They’re both exceptionally well done and fun for all ages, truly.

  35. Such a great list! Thank you SO much!

    I didn’t see the Enchanted ForestChronicles series listed. We absolutely adored all the audio books together as a family. We’ve also done all of the Peter and the Starcatchers Books and now I’m dying to do Harry Potter because we just love Jim Dale.
    We also listened to the Percy Jackson books AND the Heroes (The Roman series) and my 10 and 8 year old ate those up.

  36. Katie says:

    The Harry Potter series is fantastic on audio. We also loved the Narnia series and The Series of Unfortunate Events. Sarah Plain and Tall is wonderful too. We passed many hours listening to books when the kids were younger.

  37. Kimiko says:

    We just did a ten hour road trip for Thanksgiving and my husband makes good use of Overdrive and downloaded The Princess and the Goblins and the Princess and the Curdie by George MacDonald. We all loved it – mom, dad, 6 and 7 year old girls, and an almost 4 year old boy. He might have missed a lot of it, but he didn’t complain! Give it a try!

  38. Kayla says:

    For older kids – say 10ish and up, the Ashtown Burials series by N.D Wilson, narrated by Thomas Vincent Kelly is so ridiculously good it may spoil you for just any old audiobook. TVK has about 30 different character voices to do in any given book, maybe more, and he nails them! The books are exciting adventures with a secret society, beings straight from mythology, hard trials, fantastical weapons, and more.
    I definitely agree that the Redwall series is terrific too – The narration by a cast of actors is awesome, and Brian Jacques was a master at epic good vs evil stories that don’t soften the evil, but are also not too scary for kids. I’d say 8 and up – our youngest son started listening when he was probably 4 or 5, but he’s not overly sensitive to intense situations in books.

  39. Alice says:

    Wow, great suggestions! I should add any of the Dr. Seuss audio books for “younger-ish” kids. The stories are funny and captivating, my kids just love them!

  40. Becca says:

    My kids (and I!) have been loving Betsy-Tacy on CD. It’s narrated by Sutton Foster and it is so so delightful. My kids are always cheerful about getting in the car because they know they’ll get to listen to something.

  41. Sarah Gordon says:

    “Ballet Shoes (Kathleen Kelly’s favorite)”… love love love this reference. And a super helpful list overall… We’ve never done audiobooks but I was looking into it for our summer road trip!

  42. Sarah Zacher says:

    My family just finished Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, read by Jim Dale. I apologize if this recommendation is redundant. But it bears mentioning, even repeatedly. All 5 of my kids (minus the three year old) loved it! I cannot speak highly enough of it. We were sorry when it ended. Thank you all for the wonderful ideas with which to replace it!

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