17 great audiobooks for kids

17 great audiobooks for kids

We’ve talked about audiobooks quite a bit in the past few months—on the blog and on the podcast—which has led to an outcry of but what about my kids? 

Today I’m happy to oblige, with this list of 17 terrific audiobooks for the younger set. (There’s a lot more titles here if you count all the books in these series.)

This is by no means exhaustive; there are literally thousands of good options, which is fantastic, but a little overwhelming. Have no fear: you can’t go wrong with any of these titles.

And if your favorite is missing from the list, would you tell us about it in comments?

Series: Audiobooks for Kids Round-up
Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl

Author:
In this fantasy series, Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old criminal mastermind, the last in a long line of crime lords in a legendary crime family that has seen better days. When this novel was first released, Publishers Weekly couldn't resist commenting how much the novel read like a screen play. That's good news for audiobook fans: it's amazing in this medium. Fun fact: the author described this book as "Die Hard with fairies." More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World

The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World

This quirky novel lives in the shadow of its better-known companions From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The View from Saturday, it deserves more recognition—especially the terrific audio edition read by Edward Herrmann. This story is about a kid with a dream, a search for a true friend, and a long-buried secret that dates all the way back to Nazi Germany. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers

Bestselling funny guy Dave Barry turns to Kid Lit in this fantasy tale, a prequel of sorts to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Great characters, daring adventure, and not a small amount of hijinks. Jim Dale narrates. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Misty of Chincoteague

Misty of Chincoteague

This 1947 novel is a must-read for any young horse lover. A tiny island in coastal Virginia is home to a band of beautiful wild ponies, and Paul and Maureen dream of making one of them their own. The children learn that following a dream isn’t easy, and that sometimes it’s hard to hold onto what you love. Newbery Honor Book. The terrific audiobook is narrated by Edward Hermann, who also read the award-winning narrations of The Boys in the Boat and Unbroken. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

Forget everything you've heard about this being an "important" book, and if you're not the poetry type, pretend you don't know this is a memoir-in-verse. All you need to know is this story is fantastic, and it absolutely comes alive when read by the author herself. Woodson tells the story of her childhood, moving with her family (or part of it) from South Carolina to New York City and back again, sharing her observations through a young girl's eyes with a writer's sensibility. National Book Award winner. More info →
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
The Wednesday Wars

The Wednesday Wars

Author:
I love Gary Schmidt. This is one of his most beloved works—a historical novel that revolves around middle school drama, the New York Yankees, and the Vietnam War, as seen through the eyes of seventh grader Holling Hoodhood. Readers will come back to it again and again. Funny and poignant, it's perfect for fans of E.L. Konigsburg. A Newbery Honor book. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
The Crossover

The Crossover

Author:
Another novel in verse, read by the author. A heads up to the kids who think they aren't poetry types: when read aloud, this story doesn't sound "poetic." It just sounds awesome. This coming-of-age story revolves around two twin boys, both basketball stars, raised by an ex-NBA star, and the plot features plenty of action on and off the court. Poetry doesn't waste words, which heightens the reader's emotional experience as the characters deal with the regular pains of growing up and the not-so-regular family issues. A Newbery Award winner. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game

This science fiction classic is one of Audible's most highly-rated audiobooks of all time. I don't want to say too much ... but this story revolves around Ender Wiggins, who gets roped into his civilization's quest to save the world. The top-rated audiobook is narrated by a cast, which makes for an even richer reading experience. A Hugo and Nebula Award-winner. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Author:
It's the classic you know and love, in a newly released audio version narrated by Rachel McAdams. For kids, this is an excellent introduction to Anne. For adults, Rachel's new narration is a wonderful way to revisit an old favorite. (Hot tip: buy the right kindle edition and then add the Rachel McAdams narration for just $1.99.) More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Redwall: A Tale from Redwall

Redwall: A Tale from Redwall

Author:
The plot admittedly sounds a little weird, but Brian Jacques has won over legions of skeptics with this series. It's all in the telling, really: Jacques is known for his technicolor descriptive styles; he doesn't just show the readers what's happening—comes alongside you so you can feel, smell, touch, and taste it. Narrated by a full cast, so you get to hear lots of different accents and dialects done well. Read it, and read it on audio. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Muggie Maggie

Muggie Maggie

Author:
My 9-year-old adored this Beverly Cleary title (that I'd never heard of until this year!) begged me to read it until I relented. It was even one of her 3 favorites when she was a guest on the What Should I Read Next podcast. It's the same Beverly Cleary we know and love, although this one is aimed at a slightly younger audience than the Henry and Ramona books we love so much. And at only 41 minutes long, this is a gentle introduction to the world of audiobooks. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Flora & Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses

Author:
It's hard to go wrong with any Kate DiCamillo book; this Newbery Award winner is a good place to start. Flora is a girl addicted to the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!; Ulysses is the squirrel who needs saving. Endearing, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny, especially as narrated by the talented Tara Sands. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted

My fourth grader is reading this one right now and LOVING it! Gail Carson Levine is terrific on audio. In this story (her first!) she takes a friendly young girl today's kids can relate to and her into a fantasy world filled with ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers. A fun twist on the Cinderella story. A Newbery Honor book. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
The Princess Diaries

The Princess Diaries

Author:
This whole series is great on audio; the first three books are narrated by none other than Anne Hathaway. Mia is a more-or-less typical ninth grader, who lives in Greenwich Village her single mom. But then her dad comes to town and rocks her world with a major announcement: he's not the "European politician" he's always claimed to be, but the prince of a small country. Mia is his only heir, and it's time for her to learn how to be a princess. Heads up before you buy this for your kids: the book is richer than the movie, but not as innocent. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
The Shoe Books

The Shoe Books

These charming books were discovered by a new generation of readers when Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) recommended them to a Fox Books patron in Nora Ephron’s 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail: “I'd start with Ballet Shoes, it's my favorite; although Skating Shoes is completely wonderful.” There are 11 shoe books in all; though only three are available on Audible. Start with Ballet Shoes, narrated by Elizabeth Sastre. More info →
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia

Author:
If you're remotely inclined to pick up these books (and I hope you are) might I suggest you consider the fantastic HarperAudio editions? Each has a different narrator: Kenneth Branagh reads The Magician's Nephew, Lynn Redgrave reads Prince Caspian, Jeremy Northam reads The Silver Chair, Patrick Stewart does The Last Battle. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Author:
This was required reading for Jack, my 13-year-old, and from what I heard, he wasn't the only one who struggled with the dialogue at first. But once he got the hang of it he was off and running, reading ahead of the school schedule because he wanted to find out what happens next. Packed with adventure, plus material for lots of good discussions in the classroom or at the kitchen table. The excellent Nick Offerman narration is currently available as a Whispersync deal. "Buy" the linked kindle edition here—for FREE—and add the narration for just $.99. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Audible.com

I know you have great ideas for kids’ audiobooks. What would you add to the list?

P.S. Visit the brand-new audiobook category on the blog for more audiobook recommendations.

audiobooks for kids

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99 comments

  1. Erika says:

    The Penderwicks and The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
    Socks read by Neil Patrick Harris
    The Wizard of Oz read by Anne Hathaway

  2. Our family has loved the audiobooks version of Elvis and the Underdogs (there are two in this series), Escape from Lemoncello’s Library (there are two in this series), The Worst Class Trip Ever (It’s $3.99 right now on Audible), Sarah Plain and Tall, and Matilda among others.

  3. Hannah says:

    What a wonderful list! Another wonderful audio series is Hank The Cowdog written and narrated by John R. Erickson. My family listed to these during summer road-trips and many of the lines are woven into our family lore.

  4. Jessica says:

    I just checked out Ender’s Game based on your recommendation, and while I’m sure my kids would like the story, I had to abandon it after just a few tracks because it introduced some vocabulary I don’t want them repeating (ba$tard and a**hole). Maybe a caveat that it’s best for older kids or a warning about the language… but we are loving the Narnia books and have put several others on hold, too. Thank you for all of the work you do! I never would have come across Jayber Crow if not for you, and my life is so much richer for having read it.

  5. Ani says:

    I LOVE “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on audio! Narrated by Tim Curry and the first one, “The Bad Beginning,” is a multi-voice production with a score and sound effects.

  6. Cori Niles says:

    I love this list, but am wondering what you would recommend for a three-year-old with an insatiable love of stories. I look forward to listening to these in a few years, but they mostly seem out of her depth for now.

    • Erin in CA says:

      At that age my son started with Jim Weiss (look on Amazon — some of his stuff is for much older kids, but he has some for the 3-5 age range) and Sparkle Stories (they have their own website). Both of my kids started listening to these around age 3, and at ages 10 and 13 still really enjoy audio books. Good luck!

      • Quinn says:

        My 3.5 yr old listens to sparkle stories. Heard of Jim Weiss. Need to add him to birthday Christmas wish list!

    • Crystal Blake says:

      Anything by Julia Donaldson all the audiobooks are great, we have a few from audible and a CD collection.
      Paddington Bear read by Stephen Fry was a hit with mine other than those I have to have a think about what we have in our collection that is suitable for a 3 year old. Hugs Crystal x

  7. Laurie Foote says:

    Inkheart and anything narrated by Jim Dale! Shannon Hale also has amazing stories and usually has full cast narrated audio books.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Hi Anne, I love your blog and your recommendations! I’m wondering if you have any tips for selecting audiobooks for kids who are HSPs. My daughters are 7 and almost 10, and both are HSPs (as am I). I’m struggling to find books and audiobooks (or even regular books) that will challenge them and hold their interest without overstimulating their HSP natures. Just to give you an example, my 10-year-old still can’t handle the first Harry Potter book because it’s too “exciting,” but classics are often “too boring,” while books geared toward younger kids just aren’t interesting/challenging enough. If you have specific book recommendations, that would be wonderful, but tips on what to look for in general would be immensely helpful!

    • Anne says:

      You know what? This probably deserves its own blog post. My first non-obvious thought is that a lot of highly sensitive kids are uncomfortable with plot tension—they want to know that everything will turn out okay. And they want to know what’s happening. So having a physical copy of the book they can read along with, or read in advance, can be particularly helpful. That way they have more control over the reading experience than they would if they were a captive audience (say, in a car) listening to the audio for the first time.

      • Stephanie says:

        Yes! That’s a good point; it’s definitely plot tension, and no amount of my assuring them things will turn out seems to relieve that anxiety. Your point about being more in control with a physical book also makes a lot of sense. In our particular situation, though, my kids are just as nervous about this sort of thing when they’re reading a physical book as they are about audiobooks. My Harry Potter example was actually the physical book, not the audiobook. :/ So maybe my question should have been more general: how do you choose books (whether physical or audio) for your HSP child and/or how do you help them choose for themselves? If you ever decide to tackle this in a post, I’d love to read about what you come up with!

      • Stephanie says:

        I’ve been mulling this over some more, and I think plot tension is the reason my 7-year-old still prefers to have short read-aloud books read to her. She doesn’t like chapter books at all (even though she gets engrossed in the stories when she’s “subjected” to them when I’m reading to/with her sister), and I think it might be because they have much more plot tension than the short and sweet children’s books. Interesting!

  9. Quinn says:

    I commented on an audio book that was an older post. I’ll comment too in this newer one. Any recommendations for audio listening for a 3.5 yr old girl? Looking for something during rest time since naps are a no more.
    Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

  10. Wendifer says:

    My Fathers Dragon from the listening library–from small children, though teens and adults have fun listening together. Anything narrated by Jim Weiss–stories for all ages (The Forest Cottage and Best Loved Stories in Song and Dance for the wee ones. Archimedes when they get older.). Jim Weiss narrates History of the World Series. The first disc is appropriate for younger children; as they get older, the series changes to with them. Winnie the Pooh, specifically the BBC production. My son listened to that so many times, that he spoke with a British accent for a time!

  11. Wendifer says:

    Also–Roald Dahl’s “The BFG” as read by the late, very talented Natasha Richardson. Love to hear her say “snozzcumbers.”

  12. Erin says:

    We’ve been listening to audiobooks for years, as my kids have grown up with Adventures in Odyssey CD’s at the ready. From there, we’ve branched out and here are a few of our recent fave’s:
    Andrew Clements’ Map Trap,
    Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest,
    CS Lewis’ Narnia series,
    & Shirley Parentau’s Ship of Dolls.

  13. Thanks for the list – I’m check them out (although some are not available on UK Audible 🙁 ). Some we have loved:
    The Hero’s Guide Series read by Bronson Pinchot. Can’t recommend this enough for all ages -my youngest enjoyed it at 3 even though it’s 10 hours a book; my 11 year old still does.

    Echo – the story weaves in music and works so well on audio (older kids as there are difficult WW2 themes).

    How to Tame Your Dragon series read by David Tennant. My younger boys like this. My 11-year old HSP finds it too scary!

    Kate Saunders’ Beswitched, Magicalimity and the Whizz-Pop Chocolate Shop and Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix series. Good for 7+ and nicely British 🙂

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