Kids’ Audiobooks for the Road Trip (or Whenever!)

Summer! Time for watermelon, s’mores, road trips, and — of course! — the annual Dinner A Love Story kid’s reading round-up. This year, I’m happy to present a twist: The gifted and talented mother, magazine vet, friend of DALS, and childrens’ book lover extraordinaire, Rory Evans tackles the best audiobooks for kids (and their parents). Take it from here Rory! –Jenny
Last week, my 5-year-old daughter asked me—as good as out of nowhere—”You know the man who reads Henry Huggins? What else does he do?” She was referring, of course, to Mr. Neil Patrick Harris, and I explained to her the basics of being a show biz triple-threat: “He acts, he sings, and he dances. He hosts the Tony Awards. And a long time ago, when he was just a child, he played a doctor on TV.” But I think her mere curiosity about him speaks to his talent as a reader—and we have indeed spent many happy hours (usually shuttling between New York and Boston) listening to him read Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins books.
Having a kid and a car turned me and my husband Jamie into audiobook people. (Prior to being a mother, I was simply the person hitting scan repatedly, in desperate search of “Genie in a Bottle.”) I think it started when my daughter was about 2, and I downloaded ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from iTunes to listen to on our way to my parents’ house for the holidays, and it just hasn’t let up since. Usually, I’ve bought audiobooks of stories that one of us has already read to her—the recording simply gives us someone else’s interpretation of the story. As someone who could get motion sick just looking at a car, audiobooks have also introduced me, for the first time in my life, to that spacy, relaxing other-head you can get in while being engrossed in a really good story as you zoom along the 84 in Connecticut (or, heaven forbid, are stuck in bumper-to-bumper on the Jackie Robinson in Queens). What follows is a summation of some of our favorites—I recommend them for getaway weekend drives like the Fourth of July! We ourselves are planning a 37 hour drive to Arizona at the end of the summer, and I think for that, we are going to need the God-only-knows-how-many discs of a Harry Potter book.)
(Note: These audiobooks are for all ages, unless otherwise specified—though it really depends on attention span, crankiness, hunger, and all other variables related to childrearing in general.)
Read by Glynis Johns
Play time: About 10 minutes a story
This was an early purchase, and one we still listen to frequently years later. It’s an actual CD (the ITunes file wasn’t available when I bought it) with five different stories about Frances the badger (though, maddeningly, it doesn’t have A Bargain for Frances, which I think is the best one). Each story runs about 12 or so minutes, which as I recall, is how we introduced Evan to stories in the car: Short, familiar tales she recognized from bedtime. They were good for the brief trip to the grocery store, but we soon realized she would happily listen to story after story. Glynis Johns has been everywhere—on stage, screen, and TV—and her British accent gives the stories a kind of absurd gravitas that I think Frances herself would be insanely and, of course, boastfully proud of.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “Whack and smack; whack and smack” from Bedtime for Frances, and “We know S-M-F-O” from A Birthday for Frances. (Honestly, it’s a wonder we ever say anything to each other that’s *not* from these books. That’s how distinct and awesome Johns’s accent and enunciation are.)

Island Boy, Miss Rumphius, and Eleanor, by Barbara Cooney
Read by: Various readers
Play time: 18 minutes, 9 minutes, 21 minutes
The voice actors of these books all do a fine job, but the stories themselves are transcendent—some seriously economical storytelling about life, love, death and family. Island Boy and Miss Rumphius are essentially cradle-to-grave tales, and Eleanor is about Eleanor Roosevelt’s unhappy (bordering on abusive) childhood, the loss of her parents, and her blossoming under the care of a headmistress, Mlle Souvestre. (Ages 4 and up)
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “One day she met the Bapa Raja, the king of a fishing village.” (About Miss Rumphius! Not Eleanor! We don’t think it was a romantic tryst, but of course we always joke that it might’ve been.)
Read by: John McDonough
Play time: 13 minutes
Jenny and Andy have written about how good and deeply sweet this story is, and John McDonough owns every word of it. He has this big, rich voice that’s a comforting authority through the scarier/more existential parts of the story (when Sylvester loses hope in the winter, when he’s stuck as a rock; the very notion of child disappearing into thin air). I loved his reading so much I also got his version of Longfellow’s Hiawatha, which is set to lots of moody pan flute, and is essentially what a dream-catcher would become if compressed into an MP3 file.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “left hind fetlock”—from when Sylvester is confirming the pebble is magic, and wishes a wart on his left leg away.

Brave Irene
by William Steig
Read by: Meryl Streep
Play time: 13 minutes
I don’t say things like this lightly: I read Brave Irene better than Meryl Streep does. Evan and I had been deep into a Brave Irene routine, sometimes reading it in the morning and again at bedtime, so I had my rendition *down* by the time I got the audiobook. I saw Irene as a solid lovebug and sweetheart, so when I turned on the Lady Streep, and heard her give Irene a kind of blithely cocky 8-year-old angle (“I can get it there!”), it didn’t sit right. It still doesn’t—but even so, we still listen to it often.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “Dress warmly, pudding”
Written and Read by: E.B. White
Written and Read by: Arnold Lobel
Play time: 3 hours 35 minutes; about 5 minutes a chapter
When you listen to a book read by its author, you kind of can’t decide—as I did, with Meryl and Brave Irene—that he’s reading it the wrong way. Charlotte’s Web is a delightful, deep, happy/sad book that, to date, I’ve never been able to read aloud without some serious water works. (I even cry in the first act, when Charlotte’s death is ever so vaguely foreshadowed.) To hear White read the story, give the characters understatedly distinct voices, is nothing short of mind-boggling. Lobel’s reading of Frog and Toad books, meanwhile, comes off a little goofier than I’d imagined them when reading them myself. Arnold Lobel was married, with children, and he died of AIDS in 1987, when he was 54 years old—that is all I know for certain, but I still can’t help wondering if Frog and Toad could be interpreted as gay, with the more self-assured Frog being out, and the more insecure Toad being closeted. No matter what, the two are sweeties, and wonderfully mismatched friends—and it’s cool to be able to hear the deceased author’s version.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “In the baahhhhwwn cellah” in White’s high-WASP dialect, and, from Frog and Toad, “After I put on my bathing suit, you must not look at me until I get into the water.”
Read by: Tony Shalhoub
Play time: 2 hours 36 minutes
The hardest I’ve ever geeked out on a celebrity in person—and this is counting the time I saw Tony Randall at a Chemical Bank ATM in the early 90s!—was on Tony Shalhoub, and it was over this audiobook. If you look closely at Shalhoub, you might still be able to see tracks of my geek slime on him, placed there when the poor, unsuspecting man was touring the place I used to work, and I was compelled to walk up to him and unload some loving admiration. I’ve loved this book since I first read it in one day when I was about 9, and the calm, sweet-voiced and soft-spoken Shalhoub does it such justice (the interludes of violin music—meant to be Chester cricket playing his wings—also help). The book was first published in 1960, and it has some rather stereotyped depictions of both Chinese and Italian immigrants, yet Shaloub is able to handle them with sensitivity.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “All late papers! Magazines!”

The Ramona books
, by Beverly Cleary
Read by: Stockard Channing
When Stockard Channing was 33, she played high school teenager Rizzo in Grease. And you didn’t think she was too old for the role, did you? The same goes for these books, where she nails a version of Ramona Quimby, who’s four at the beginning of the series (in Beezus and Ramona—the only book of the group with Beezus, and not her little sister, as protagonist). Cleary’s books take place in Portland, Oregon, but Channing calls in accents and dialects from all over the U.S.: Miss Binney, the beloved kindergarten teacher, sounds southern; construction workers at a local job site sound like they’re from the Bronx, Mrs. Kemp, the harried neighbor, sounds straight out of the midwest. Her Beezus is just as heartbreakingly earnest as Cleary makes her out in the books, and she manages to make Ramona seem sympathetic, lovable, and misunderstood despite her sometimes horrible behavior.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “Howwwwieeee” in an ear-splitting midwestern accent.

The Henry Huggins books
, by Beverly Cleary
Read by: Neil Patrick Harris
The same passion NPH brought to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, he brings to Henry Huggins. The charm of these books—there are six in the series—is that they tell of a timeless American boyhood (and by timeless, I mean pre-PlayStation; Cleary wrote them in the 1950s), with Henry earnestly and independently problem-solving his way out of scrape after scrape. He has a dog and a paper route and I can’t quite explain it—but you will surely agree once you give a listen—his stories were meant to be told by Neil Patrick Harris. As with Cricket in Times Square, there’s some outdated social stuff in these book— retrograde gender politics, with Mrs. Huggins (the Cleary books actually refer to adults as Mr. and Mrs.!) a sometimes harried homemaker—and Harris gives Henry’s mom so much respect and admiration.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “Don’t make me laaaauughhh!”
(Honorable mention to B.D. Wong, and his Mouse and the Motorcycle and Runaway Ralph—his reading of Chum, the hamster in a neighboring cage at the Happy Acres camp, as a chubby Southern dandy is worth the price of the audiobook alone.)

The Little House books
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Read by Cherry Jones
Play time: 4 to 5 hours per book
In a perfect, rose-colored world, Karen Grassle would read these stories. She played Ma on the Little House on the Prairie television series, and her sweet mildness set the tone for my understanding of the books. In truth, though, the Ma in the books is a hard woman! Practical, and loving, yes—but my lord, stern. The Ingalls family withstood hardship after hardship, and Cherry Jones conveys this in her pure, plainspoken, and unsentimental rendition. She has a slight Tennessee twang, and you can especially hear it when she’s reading Edwards, their razorback neighbor; and sometimes you catch her smiling behind her sentences—usually when Pa or Carrie are on the scene. Again, when I got these, I bought the discs (they come five or six discs to a book) and they are such a perfect mix of captivating and relaxing and edifying to listen to, we will listen to an entire book during one trip up to Massachusetts. Note: They get pretty grim around The Long Winter, and after that, the books have a fair amount of coverage of boys and girls—or, in the case of Almanzo and Laura, man and girl—a’courtin’.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “Well I’ll be jiggered!”
Read by Judith Ivey
Play time: 2 hours
This book is better than Charlotte’s Web, I discovered last year when I read it aloud (sobbing though much of it) last year to Evan. I’m always shocked when people with kids haven’t heard of it—it’s about a porcelain toy rabbit who’s a dandy narcissist, and the various homes and owners he cycles through over several decades. I was amazed to find a new book that I loved so much, and then just as amazed when we listened to Judith Ivey’s—Google her; her face will be familiar—captivating reading: We listened to it in one shot, during a drive upstate, and the three of us were completely rapt (Jamie even got honest-to-goodness goosebumps at the end). Ages 5 and up — be warned, there is a heart-wrenching child death scene in it.
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “Malone!”


Matilda by Roald Dahl
Read by: Kate Winslet
Play time: 4 hours 19 minutes
I feel like every parent has their go-to bedtime story book—the showstopper, the blue-ribbon winner, the one they do an especially spirited, nuanced, dramatic reading of (mine’s Dr. Seuss’s “What Was I Scared Of?”). But when you hear Kate Winslet’s Matilda, you will be embarassed to have ever had the arrogance to be in the same room as a children’s book, let alone the temerity to think you had a talent for reading one. Granted, Roald Dahl gives her a running start with a broad cast of characters, but then Winslet gives each of them clear, distinct voices, from sweet little Matilda to brave, sputtering, lisping Hortensia to the bellowing, horrible Trunchbull. (Ages 5 or 6 and up. It can be pretty Dickensian underneath the exaggerations.)
Line that Jamie and I often say to each other in character, usually apropos of nothing: “Yesss, Misssss Honey.”

Where to download/buy/borrow: You can find most of these audiobooks on CD from Amazon or your local library, or in MP3 file form from iTunes or (which is owned by Amazon, and lets you use that log-in; you can buy the recordings outright or get a monthly membership).
Road trip photo credit: The Blank Page.
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Now I feel like I should download all of these for our long plane trip to California this weekend. Was just thinking how I would rather be reading to the kids then having them play games on devices, but it’s fairly distracting for others on the plane.


Excellent list – one we will be using! Thank you & FYI Harry Potter is about 117 hours long (all 7 books I like the UK version read by Stephen Fry).


I’m a long time audiobook fan and my kids start calling to “put on the story” any time we get into the car. Love all your choices and would add…

The Pain and the Great One series by Judy Blume — wonderful sibling dynamics
the Fudge series, also Judy Blume — very funny
the Sophie stories by Dick King Smith, “Sophie’s Snail” is the first – a wonderful series about a non-girly-girl who loves animals and yearns to be a “Lady Farmer” when she grows up. I believe they were written in the 80s in England. My daughter (also an animal loving non-girly-girl) absolutely loves these and listens to them over and over again. Sophie’s 4 in the first book. A good series for Ramona lovers. Hard to find in libraries but available on Audible.


This is just in time. My girls are driving from DC to my parents’ farm in Ohio this week. I think the 4-year-old is too young for Harry Potter (although I love the audio books and I’ve been reading them to the 4-month old as she nurses – her sister listened to The Hobbit at feedings), so Frances and William Steig here we come!

The Prestigious School

I requested a walk down memory lane last week on our family road trip, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.

E. B. White reading Charlotte’s Web is “epic” according to my 16 year old son. My 2 college kids were wiping their eyes, and my older son said, “You know it’s coming, but it still gets you. That’s good writing.”

Of course, C S Lewis said it best, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”


That is a good quote! Thanks, Prestigious!

I’ve never tried audio books in the car before – but we are driving to Normandy in 10 days time (from London) and maybe the 5 year old would be ready to enjoy some of these now……


Thank you so much for this list! I’ve had the Frances collection since I was a child, and now my children love it. I can’t wait to listen to the others.


Love love love this list! My boys at 2 and 6 months and I think the older one might be ready for some of the shorter stories. Rory, I’d highly recommend the Artemis Fowl series on audio, it’s amazing and the reader is perfect!! My husband and I listened to these pre-kids on road trips, so good you don’t want to get out of the car.

Sarah B

Shel Silverstein’s narration of A Light in the Attic is nothing short of amazing. Listening to the cassettes on road trips was a big piece of my childhood.


Love love love this post!
For the older crowd, Holes is a good one – don’t bother with the film version.

Caroline in San Francisco

For older kids (rising 5th grader), we just finished listening to Natasha Richardson reading Roald Dahl’s “BFG”. A great listening experience for the whole family. Also, Rita Garcia-Williams’ historical fiction books on audio (“One Crazy Summer”, “P.S. Be Eleven”, and the new one “Gone Crazy in Alabama”) are awesome.


I just wanted to mention Overdrive as a great resource for downloading audiobooks from your library. It took a while for this to end up on my radar and my kids love it.


Great list…. but a you’re missing a lot of great stories with lead characters of color. I’d like to add Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin and The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex,


Thank you! Reserved many of these at our local library for a July road trip from San Diego to Seattle and back!


Love this post!! Discovering audiobooks radically reduced road trip stress for us. We (family of 4 boys ages 7-13, two bookworm parents) also loved The Rats of NIMH and have cranked thru most of the Harry Potters on road trips from South Carolina to Maine.

Aly S

The Jeremy Irons version of James and the Giant Peach is absolutely amazing. E. B. White reading Stuart Little is another family favorite. For slightly older kids, The Wee Free Men is fantastic. We’ve also enjoy the books in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.


Love this list!!! I can see some as perfect for my 3 year old! I would add “Watership Down” to this list for mid-elementary aged kids and up. The reader is AMAZING and he makes this already compelling story really come alive.


Car ride magic! Touring colleges now with our eldest, but have fond memories of listening to the Frances stories in the car.

Kate on the Domestic Front

Some of these I love, some of these I haven’t heard (yet). Will have to throw in a good word for Sutton Foster’s reading of Betsy Tacy (wish she had done the whole series!) and all of the Penderwicks books read by Susan Denaker. I loved these so much (listened to all of them with my then 4 year old as we commuted) that when the last book came out I listened to it on my own, even though I no longer commute with my now 7 year old (I’ve got a new 3 yo in the car with me, but he’s not quite ready for audiobooks yet.)


I adore this list — and the great suggestions listed in the comments, too — and can’t wait to check them out. We listened to the Frances collection when my daughter was just short of three, and she busted out from the back seat, in a perfect English accent, “A BUTH-day for FRAHN-cis.” We still say it to one another to this day (apropos of nothing!).


Thank you SO MUCH for this list today! I’ve spent hours compiling a list through our library’s website of books on tape/CD for our two middle boys, ages 6 and 3, to listen to during our daily ‘quiet time’. I’ve just added this entire list.

Yeah, books!


More! More! These are fantastic!

I will add one more, The Wednesday Wars by Gary D Schmidt, which my kiddos and I listened to in short bursts to and from swimming at the beginning of summer. They are 7 (boy) and 10 (girl), and they loved it. I believe I loved it more than reading the book.

Will most likely be turning to Cricket in Times Square next!


I agree with the PP who mentioned Betsy and Tacy! My daughter can recite parts of it now. Love Sutton Foster so much.

My son at age 11 is listening to the entire HP series for the second time (after reading them). He’s on book four. We love the narrator, Jim Dale.

For the younger set (ages 3 – 8), my daughter adored Sparkle Stories. They have a few different series, but her favorite has always been Martin & Sylvia. They have a website.

We are leaving for a short road trip on Thursday and are going to give Matilda a try. We just saw the musical, so this will tie in nicely. Thanks for the list!


JIM DALE READING HARRY POTTER IS AMAZING!!!!! It takes forever, but I’ve listened to all seven a few times. You won’t be able to get his imploring Hermione out of your head “Hair-eee.” Enjoy!

Also, the Edward Tulane book is fantastic. I’ll add the audio book to my list. I really want to find a great narration of Anne of Green Gables.


THANK YOU! What a wonderful list. I have an almost 5 year old who got into audiobooks a year ago thanks to the magical Kate Winslet’s reading of the Magical Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton. And I mean magical, awe-inspiring. I felt exactly the same way as you did when I heard her read.


Such a great and timely post! We’re leaving on a trip tomorrow and I’m taking the first three Harry Potter audio books and The Hobbit. We’ve all loved ALL of the R. Dahl audio books – the Witches being our family favorite. Such a wonderful way to pass the time on a road trip or long plane ride. Thanks!

Charlie Cook

This is a great blog post! I never know what books to buy for my nieces and nephews so my husband and I will spend an hour reading kids books in the kiddie corner at the bookstore trying to pick out a good and age appropriate book! I do love Matilda – and all Roald Dahl books really – I can’t wait to read it with my children one day! – Charlie,


We drove the 8 hour trek from Marquette Michigan, back home to Ypsilanti listening to the third Penderwicks, and not once did we hear “Are we there yet?” or the like. We are all totally invested in the series. I’m an actor. I LOVE reading to the kids, but man, I love listening to someone else read as a little vacation for me too!


Great post : ) Listening to Harry Potter with my kids was one of the best experiences of childhood for them and parenthood for me! We have listened to so many wonderful books over the years but the standouts are Harry Potter (can’t be topped in our eyes), Wonder, Because of Winn Dixie all the Henry Huggins and Flora & Ulysses. I agree with the poster below – Overdrive though our library is amazing.


Thank You!!! I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this list. We’ve been listening to the same old pitiful rendition of The Three Little Pigs and Rapunzel using a random iphone app for far too long. How did I overlook children’s audiobooks?!


For slightly older kids, and adults with a slightly darker sensibility, Tim Curry’s reading of the Lemony Snicket ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ is excellent; the first runs about 2 hours long. Also the ‘Graveyard Book’ or ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman (his reading of these is wonderful; The Graveyard book is maybe 7 hours long, Coraline is much shorter.)


The Mrs. Piggle- Wiggle books (esp. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic) are perfect for car listening and funny, so funny for all ages. My (now 13 year old) daughter still listens to “The Messy Stuff and Cram Cure” when she can’t get to sleep. Also, want to put in a plug for the BBC version of Winnie the Pooh with Stephen Fry and Judi Dench among others.


The Mrs. Piggle- Wiggle books (esp. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic) are perfect for car listening and funny, so funny for all ages. My (now 13 year old) daughter still listens to “The Messy Stuff and Cram Cure” when she can’t get to sleep. Also, want to put in a plug for the BBC version of Winnie the Pooh with Stephen Fry and Judi Dench among others.


I love this list – thank you! I would add The Penderwicks to the list (there are 4 books in all). Susan Denecker is the reader and she is amazing.

Am going to add several of these classics to my library queue tomorrow!


Here are a few suggestions for an older audience. Sorry I don’t know the readers, but the authors are amazing.
Icefall, by Matthew J. Kirby
Listen Slowly, by Thanhha Lai
The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud


My favourites when I was growing up (in England in the 80s and 90s) were Winnie-the-Pooh read by Alan Bennett, the Chronicles of Narnia dramatisations (particularly The Magician’s Nephew) and also The Secret Garden read by Helena Bonham Carter. I really wish I had a cassette player so I could still listen to them!

I also absolutely love Stephen Fry’s readings of the Harry Potter books.


I will have to first respectfully disagree and say that Charlotte’s Web is a far superior book to Edward Tulane, which I found incredibly sad and somewhat terrifying. But, that small quibble aside, my six year old and I listened to the following on a long road trip with family last week:

E.B. White read Charlotte’s Web – amazing as stated above

E.B. White read The Trumpet of the Swan, which might have been an even better reading that Charlotte’s Web AND has a trumpet player playing in different parts (Taps at Camp Kookooskoos! Beautiful Dreamer when Louis sees Serena waking up the the Zoo!) which added another level to the reading. Plus Louis’s father might be one of the best characters ever written.

Roald Dahl reading short stories from The Roald Dahl Audio Collection, which were so hilarious that my sister and I were crying from laughing as we drove our kids to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach are also on the CD, but they are abridged.) Roald Dahl’s reading was absolutely spot on perfect.

Gretchen R.

Is that a road trip in Australia? The right sided steering wheel is tripping me out!

William Steig’s Dominic is an amazing audio book as well — just a wonderful example of joyful generosity.


Great suggestions for our upcoming roadtrip, both in the post and in the comments. Thanks! I would add “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, narrated by Adam Grupper. My kids ages 5, 8, 11, and 13 loved it, and so did I. We are currently listening to “To Kill a Mockingbird” for our winding down time every night before bed. You mentioned it in a previous post, and you’re right–Sissy Spacek is brilliant. Everyone should put that on their list too. Cheers!


Looks like a great list – already picked up some of the suggestions. Do you all have any recommendations for adult summer reading or listening – I recently finished Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life, Michael Paterniti’s Love and other ways of dying, and Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See… all inspired by some of Andy & Jenny’s recent hints (thanks for those!).


The Clementine series (by Sara Pennypacker, read by Jessica Almasy) is wonderful. The series is warm and funny, and the reader is excellent. The books can be enjoyed by children (probably age 5 and up) and adults as well.


Great list! My two boys, ages 11 and 9, still love to listen to audiobooks. Their favorites are Hank the Cowdog books and Judy Blume’s Fudge books. Another one they’ve loved is Gooney Bird by Lois Lowry.


The whole Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchet is amazing on audio. Highly recommend it!


Love this list! Thank you! We’re big fans of the audio Harry Potter books, the Fudge series by Judy Blume, and Junie B Jones series. On our last trip we listened to Frindle by Andrew Clements and loved it.


We’re obsessed with audiobooks! A favorite with the whole family (my kids are a little older) is Knucklehead by Jon Sczieska (read by the author, of course). It’s a sweet and hilarious account of his childhood with his brothers. His Frank Einstein books are also well worth a listen. For a classic, Anne Hathaway doing the Wizard of Oz is pretty great. Also, the Sword in the Stone read by Neville Jackson. Although the dramatization is a little over the top, we also love the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. Has anyone mentioned Paddington narrated by Stephen Fry? Great for younger kids. The Neddiad, written and read by beloved Daniel Pinkwater is also wonderful. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Alvin Ho by Lenore Look (very funny and sweet) and all of the Percy Jackson books, which have been listened to on repeat around here.


wonderful list!! Thank you so much for sharing this. I dreaded car rides as a kid, but maybe my own kids will look forward to them 🙂

Debi A

I’m an adult, have a grown-up daughter, and love to listen to audio books while driving. Lately, because of medical issues, I have a short attention span and tend to forget (what did I just listen to??). So the ones of these that are shorter should fit my needs perfectly. I plan to log in to my library and see how many of these already exist in their system as audiobooks, and download as many as possible just for ME to listen to. Thanks for the recommendations!


I’ll 2nd the Lemony Snicket series, especially those read by Tim Curry-so funny! And we’re addicted to Jim Dale’s reading of the Harry Potter series. will look forward to trying some of these recommendations!


When your kids are older, your whole family will howl listening to ” A Long Way From Chicago” by Richard Peck. It’s YA but it’s one my husband asked me to read to him once when he was sick in bed with the flu. If you need some hearty chuckles, this book delivers!


I have to second (or fourth!) the Penderwicks recommendation. Two of these books made two long drives fly by. The fourth in the series (The Penderwicks in Spring) was all my daughter and I listened to from Salt Lake City to Marin County, and then we were as smitten with the second (The Penderwicks on Gardam Street) from Marin to San Diego, even though we’d already read it. Beautiful writing and characters, and so well narrated. These other suggestions are great — thanks so much for this post.