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Are you looking for the best audiobooks for family road trips? We put together a list of the best audiobooks for the whole family – from young kids to tweens. We’ve kept the grown-ups in mind, too! The recommended audiobooks all have engaging stories and excellent narrators that we know you’ll enjoy as much as the kids!
If you’re traveling with teens or a group of adults, we recommend switching to our list of the best audiobooks for road trips that’s geared toward older audiences!
Tips for Picking the Best Audiobook for Your Family Road Trip
In order to help you pick out a great book to listen to on the road, we’ve organized our list of the best family audiobooks with those appropriate for the youngest listeners at the top, followed by books perfect for older kids and tweens.
Of course, we know that some kids are more sensitive or more easily frightened than others. And we know that each family has its own comfort level regarding subject matter. In addition to providing a brief synopsis for each book, we’ve also called out things we think will help you make a good choice when selecting the best audio books for your family road trip.
Once you’ve narrowed down our list to the titles you think your family would most enjoy, Common Sense Media is a great resource to help you further vet your choices. You can search three titles a month for free on Common Sense Media. The results will provide specific details regarding language, violence, positive role models, and more. Many of the books on our list have been adapted into movies, so when searching for a title on Common Sense Media, be sure to choose the book format for the most accurate information.
To help you select the perfect length book for your drive, we’ve listed the recorded length under the narrator. The times are accurate if the book is played at 1x speed. However, when starting each book, we recommend testing different listening speeds to find the right balance for everyone. Often, books sound more natural when played at 1.25 speed, which reduces listening time. Or, if anyone in the car has trouble processing audio, it might help to slow down the narration at first.
Downloading Audiobooks For Your Family Road Trip
If you’re new to audiobooks, there are lots of ways to listen. We’ve written about the pros and cons of an Amazon Audible subscription and answered lots of audiobook FAQs here. Libraries are also an excellent resource for free audiobooks. If you’re not familiar with downloading audiobooks from the library, the librarian at your local branch can walk you through it!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we may earn a referral fee from qualifying purchases.
Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips
The Ralph S. Mouse: Three Book Collection
By Beverly Cleary
Narrated by B.D. Wong
Total Recording Length: 6 hours and 40 minutes
This audiobook collection includes all three titles in the beloved Ralph S. Mouse series, making it perfect for family road trips.
In the first book, Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965), a young mouse named Ralph, who lives in the Mountain View Inn, makes friends with the young boy staying in room 215. When the boy allows Ralph to ride his toy motorcycle, their adventures together are just beginning!
In the second book and third books, Ralph S. Mouse (1970) and Runaway Ralph (1982), the adventures continue as Ralph attends school and summer camp.
The Book Girls Say... These were the first chapter books that Angela read aloud to her boys when they were just 3 and 4 years old. The stories held their attention and left the whole family smiling.
Another excellent Beverly Clearly audiobook is Henry Huggins narrated by Neil Patrick Harris.
Because of Winn-Dixie
By Kate DiCamillo
Narrated by Kate DiCamillo, Jenna Lamia, and Ann Patchett
Recording Length: 2 hours, 55 minutes
Ten-year-old India Opal recently moved to a new town with her father. One summer afternoon, so goes to the local Winn-Dixie supermarket and she comes home with a dog, whom she also dubs Winn-Dixie.
Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to make friends in her new hometown. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal finally has the courage to ask her dad about her mom who left when she was three. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal gets to know all sorts of interesting people and spends the summer collecting stories.
This book is considered a modern classic that has continued to gain popularity since its publication in 2000.
The Book Girls Say... During the early days of the pandemic, the assistant principal at Angela's sons' school did a daily read-aloud of this book on Zoom. All of the kids loved it - from kindergarteners through 5th graders.
Kate DiCamillo is a favorite author of Angela's 8-year-old son. He's a huge fan of her Tales from Deckawoo Drive series. These books are shorter (around an hour each), but if you downloaded the whole series from your local library, they'd make for great road trip listening as well.
Upside Down Magic: 6 Book Collection
By Emily Jenkins, Lauren Myracle, and Sarah Mlynowski
Narrated by Rebecca Soler
Recording Length: approx. 2 hours, 45 minutes per book
Nory has been practicing and practicing for her magic school entrance exam. But every time she tries to turn herself into a kitten (the task she must perform for admittance), she winds up a dritten - a dragon/kittenn.
She doesn't get into the school she's been dreaming of, but in the Upside-Down magic class at Dunwiddle Magic School, she discovers she's not the only kid whose magic is a little wonky and unpredictable.
The Book Girls Say... If you are looking for funny audiobooks for family road trips, look no further! With this 6-book audio collection, you won’t run out of books to listen to even on long road trips!
Angela's family watched the Disney movie after reading the first two books. The book and the movie are only very loosely related. Even if your kids have seen the movie, the books will be a completely new experience.
By Roald Dahl
Narrated by Kate Winslet
Recording Length: 4 hours, 18 minutes
Matilda is a brilliant and sweet young girl, but her parents just see her as a bother. At just five years old she's read most of the books in the library and she's a wiz at double-digit multiplication.
When Matlida is finally old enough to attend school, she's excited for a whole new experience. Her teacher, Miss Honey, is everything she hoped for. Unfortunately, the school is run by Headmistress Miss Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who hates kids, and she especially has it in for Matilda.
When Miss Trunchbull goes too far, Matilda discovers that she has a remarkable power that she can use to fight back.
The Book Girls Say... There are so many wonderful Roald Dahl books to choose from, but we highly recommend you put Matlida at the top of your family road trip audiobook list because Kate Winslet is such a wonderful narrator.
Heads Up: This book includes some name-calling between adults and from adults to kids, including insults like "stupid" and "useless bunch of midgets."
OTHER EXCELLENT ROALD DAHL BOOKS INCLUDE:
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
By Karina Yan Glaser
Narrated by Robin Miles
Recording Length: 5 hours, 39 minutes
The five Vanderbeeker siblings, ranging in age from 6 to 13 - have lived in the same brownstone on 141st Street for their whole lives. When they learn that their landlord is not going to renew their lease, the kids are determined they can change his mind - but they'll have to come up with a plan quickly because they are set to move out in just 11 days.
This is a great slice of life story that's perfect for kids who want to hear stories about other kids, without any elements of fantasy. Parents will appreciate that it includes some wonderfully wholesome messagwes.
The Book Girls Say... Angela recently listened to this charming audiobook with her boys, and then they immediately started book 2 in the series. After finishing this series, they plan to also listen to The Penderwick series and the All-of-a-Kind family, both of which have very similar vibes.
The Magic Misfits
by Neil Patrick Harris
Narrated by Neil Patrick Harris
Recording Length: 4 hours, 13 minutes
You know him as Doogie Howser or the legendary Barney Stinson, but NPH has also served as President of the Academy of Magical Arts. He's put all of his magical knowledge to good use in writing this delightful middle-grade book.
Carter is a runaway who thought magic was only useful for tricking and stealing. But when he arrives in a small New England town, he meets an illusionist who uses magic only to make people happy. Carter befriends the illusionist's daughter and her crew of young magicians. But when a crooked circus comes to town, Carter and his new friends must stop B.B. Bosso's Circus from running a major scam.
The Book Girls Guide... From hilarious dialogue to pratfalls and slapstick, this book is full of laugh-out-loud fun for the whole family! It includes fun codes and secret messages, as well as explanations of some simple magic tricks (along with reminders of the importance of patience and practice).
All of that, PLUS narration by NPH himself, the four books in this series are sure to become favorite family audiobooks!
The Wild Robot
By Peter Brown
Narrated by Kate Atwater
Recording Length: 4 hours, 14 minutes
This is a robot nature adventure story, which is a very unique concept, but one the whole family will love!
A robot named Roz opens her eyes for the first time and discovers that she's alone on a remote island. Roz doesn't know anything about how she was created or why she's on the island, but she does know that she needs to survive. She gets off to a rough start after a huge storm and a bear attack, but Roz slowly befriends the animals on the island and adapts to the island.
The island finally starts to feel like home to Roz, until one day her past comes back to haunt her.
The Book Girls Say... This audiobook was recommended by Angela's friend who listened to it with her 3, 5, and 7-year-olds, all of whom were captivated by the story. Parents will appreciate the themes of friendship, motherhood, teamwork, empathy, and overcoming adversity.
Peter and the Starcatchers
By Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Narrated by Jim Dale
Recording Length: 8 hours, 40 minutes
This book is a fantastic backstory to Peter Pan with a cast of characters that you'll know and love, as well as new ones to discover. In this swashbuckling adventure, Peter and Molly overcome bands of pirates and thieves. As such, the book does include lots of fighting, some weapons, and the children are often in peril. The sailors and pirates alike drink throughout the book - indulging in grog and rum.
This book has action and humor (including some that will make parents laugh while going over kids' heads. The well-developed storyline will keep parents engaged while listening with the kids.
The Book Girls Say... Reviewers say that this book stands on its own, so even if your kiddos aren't yet familiar with Peter Pan, they'll still enjoy this story.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
By E.L. Konigsburg
Narrated by Jill Clayburgh
Recording Length: 3 hours, 45 minutes
When Claudia decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She invites her younger brother, Jamie, to join her because he's the one with the cash.
Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of a statue that the museum purchased for a bargain price but that may be the work of Michelangelo. If it's true, then the statue is worth millions. They are determined to find out!
The Book Girls Say... This 1968 Newbery Medal winner was a favorite of Melissa's when she was young,, but she's never outgrown her desire to live in the Met!
The Land of Stories
By Chris Colfer
Narrated by Chris Colfer
Recording length: 8 hours, 59 minutes
This is the first book in the Land of Stories series about twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.
In these fractured fairy tales, the twins encounter witches, wolves, goblins, trolls, and more.
By R.J. Palacio
Narrated by Kaya McLean, Lila Sage Bromley, Dariana Alvarez, Santino Barnard, Ry Chase, and Madeleine Curry
Recording Length: 7 hours, 10 minutes
Ten-year-old Auggie has a facial deformity that previously prevented him from attending a traditional school. In his own words "I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." Wonder begins from Auggie's point of view as he starts 5th grade, but soon switches to also include his classmates. While there are also chapters told from the perspective of his teenaged sister, her boyfriend, and others, Auggie remains the focus of the story throughout. The multiple perspectives create a beautiful portrait of Auggie's community as they struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
The Book Girls Say... In a time when the world could use more kindness, listening to this book that inspired the Choose Kind movement is a wonderful family experience and it can lead to some wonderful conversations. Of all the audiobooks that Angela has listened to with her sons - this one ranks #1 as everyone’s favorite!
If you're listening on a road trip, we highly recommend also downloading the three follow-up stories that have been collected into a book called Auggie & Me. Once you finish Wonder, you won't want to leave Auggie's world, and you definitely want to hear Julian's story!
By Kelly Yang
Narrated by Sunny Lu
Recording Length: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Mia Tang is keeping a lot of secrets. She lives in a motel rather than a big house. And her parents are immigrants. If the motel owner finds that out, he won't let them continue to stay in the empty rooms for free. And finally, Mia dreams of being a writer even though English isn't her first language.
The Book Girls Say... In addition to being a wonderful story of determination and hope, this book provides history and context for a number of social justice issues in an age-appropriate manner.
By Stuart Gibbs
Narrated by Gibson Frazier
Recording Length: 7 hours, 26 minutes
There's trouble at the new FunJungle zoo. The hippo went belly up and even though the zoo's top brass claims he died of natural causes, twelve-year-old Teddy believes it was hippo homicide. But who did it? Maybe the zoo's owner who only cares about money or the animal-hating head of operations?
This book is the first of seven in the FunJungle middle-grade mystery series, which are perfect for kids around ages 8 and up.
The Book Girls Say... Kids will learn lots of great animal info from the books in this mystery series. Keep in mind, however, that the descriptions can be a bit graphic at times - from animal autopsies and organs to their pooping habits and smells. There's also some insulting language used in Belly Up, although reviewers say there is less in future books in the series.
By Stuart Gibbs
Narrated by Gibson Frazier
Recording Length: 6 hours, 1 minutes
Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he already knows that his dream job is to join the CIA. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn't exactly scream "secret agent". In fact Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap.
Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science - but he's entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior CIA academy. Could the CIA really want him?
Actually, no. There's been a case of mistaken identity - but that doesn't stop Ben from trying to morph into a supercool undercover agent, the kind that always gets the girl.
The Book Girls Say... This is the first book in the Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs, the same author as Belly Up and the FunJungle series. We debated on putting two series by the same author on the list, but we know that the animal mysteries and CIA spy stories may appeal to different kids, so we decided to include them both.
The One and Only Ivan
By Katherine Applegate
Narrated by Adam Grupper
Recording Length: 3 hours, 46 minutes
Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this novel is told from the point of view of Ivan himself.
Ivan spent 27 years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
The Book Girls Say... If this book is your road trip audiobook pick, we recommend also downloading the sequel, The One and Only Bob.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
By Trenton Lee Stewart
Narrated by Del Roy
Recording Length: 13 hours, 17 minutes
When an ad appears in the newspaper that says: "ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD Looking for special opportunities?" dozens of children show up to take a series of mysterious and confusing tests. Only the four brightest and most unique children will succeed. Their challenge: to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened.
The Book Girls Say... The audiobook version of this great novel isn't currently available from Amazon, but there's a great chance that you can download the audiobook from your local library. Angela's family has been listening to this book from her library, and everyone is hooked!
This book is on the long side for a middle-grade novel, making it perfect for a longer family road trip. Your kids will likely want to pause the story often to talk about what they think is really going on and what they predict will happen next.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
By Rick Riordan
Narrated by Jesse Bernstein
Recording Length: 10 hours, 2 minutes
Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson can't seem to stay out of trouble no matter how hard he tries. He's about to be kicked out of boarding school again when his life gets even more complicated.
Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he's coming to realize, are very much alive in the 21st-century. And worse, he's angered a few of them: Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
The Lightning Thief is the first of five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
The Book Girls Say... This fantasy series is perfect for fans of Harry Potter and those who love Greek mythology!
The Westing Game
By Ellen Raskin
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Recording Length: 6 hours, 59 minutes
In this 1979 Newbery Medal-winning book, sixteen strangers are invited to a reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. They soon discover that someone will walk away with the eccentric millionaire’s vast fortunes. But first, they must compete in the Westing Game, a tricky and dangerous game involving blizzards, burglaries, and even bombings!
The Book Grils Say... Angela loved this book as a child and can’t wait to listen to the audiobook with her boys!
By James Ponti
Narrated by Lisa Flanagan
Recording Length: 6 hours, 50 minutes
Sara is a hacker who recently broke into the New York City foster care system to expose her foster parents as cheats and lawbreakers. She expected to be hailed as a hero, but instead Sara finds herself facing years in a juvenile detention facility and banned from using computers for the same stretch of time.
Enter Mother, a British spy who not only gets Sara released from jail but also offers her a chance to make a home for herself within a secret MI5 agency.
Operating out of a base in Scotland, the City Spies are five kids from various parts of the world. When they’re not attending the local boarding school, they’re honing their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. All of these allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can't.
The Book Girls Say... Because of the nature of this middle-grade spy novel, it does include scenes of the tweens and teens doing scary things. like climb up the sides of tall buildings, go through the bone-encrusted catacombs of Paris, as well as some light violence.
There are three books in the City Spies series. The first takes the young spies to Paris, then in books 2 and 3, they travel to San Francisco and Beijing.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
Narrated by Jim Dale
Recording Length: 8 hours, 18 minutes
Harry Potter was orphaned as a baby and sent to live with his abusive aunt and uncle. On his eleventh birthday, he receives an invitation to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and learns for the first time that he possesses magical powers and that his parents did not die in a car accident, but were in fact powerful wizards who were murdered.
At Hogwarts, Harry befriends Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger. Throughout each book, Harry and his best friends learn about their magic and overcome dangerous obstacles at every turn. The main story arc of the series involves Harry struggling to defeat Lord Voldemort - the powerful dark wizard who seeks to take over the wizarding world.
The Book Girls Say... The Harry Potter books make excellent family read-alouds and road trip listens, but we don’t recommend binging the entire Harry Potter series one right after another with younger children.
Each book has some elements that might be frightening to some children, depending on how sensitive they are, but the first three are generally enjoyable for most kids. Angela read the first three with her boys when they were 6 and 8.
The final four books, however, become darker and more complex. This is one of the reasons that teens and adults love them, but they might be a bit too intense for kids under age 10 or 11.
Even More Audiobook Recommendations
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best audio books for family road trips! Want more audiobook recommendations for adult listeners? Check out these resources:
- Best Audiobooks for Road Trips – Including titles that are great for couples and families with older teens.
- Best Kindle Unlimited Audiobooks – These audiobooks are all available free with a Kindle Unlimited membership. Wondering if Kindle Unlimited is worth it? We explain how it works and review the pros and cons in this post.
- Best Audiobook Memoirs – Most of these are read/narrated by the author. This personal touch makes them even more enjoyable to listen to than to read on paper.
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Saturday 18th of June 2022
I love your family audiobook choices. I did want to point out that both The Mysterious Benedict Society and Peter and the Star Catchers are SERIES, and are wonderful all the way through!
I also highly recommend E. L. Konigsburg's "The View from Saturday" though I'm not sure it's available as an audiobook.