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Whether you’re dealing with reluctant readers, enjoying a book as a family, or just changing up typical storytelling time, there are countless good reasons to stock up on audiobooks for kids. Audiobook reading has been a staple in my family for nearly a decade, and books we read together become the lullabies my sons drift to at each bedtime. As an elementary school librarian, I enjoy helping children and their adults understand that “hearing a book” is actually reading, and that reading audiobooks is not only “real,” it’s important. Audiobooks for kids allow them to immerse themselves in the story while building cadence, expression and an impressive vocabulary.
Audio books for children are also great because they can often be enjoyed by the whole family. I especially enjoy listening to mysteries with my sons because we start stringing clues together and guessing culprits. As they grow older and age out of our shared interests, we can always find audiobooks to read together and continue discussing diversions while listening to the plot. Some of the books on the following list are favorites of children in my life, some I choose because I love the narrator, and some are just fun and need to be read more often. There is something for everybody.
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, narrated by David Tennant
I’m a huge fan of David Tennant, which is why this audiobook is high on my list. Finding narrators you know from other walks of life is an audiobook bonus and extra hook for many kids. This book is very different from the film adaptation, so even those familiar with the popular film can enjoy a whole new storyline!
Diper Överlöde: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 17 by Jeff Kinney, narrated by Ramon De Ocampo
Diary of a Wimpy Kid continues to have a hypnotic effect on elementary school students everywhere. I’ve included the latest release, but there are 17 books and several companion novels, all narrated by Ramon De Ocampo. Follow Greg and his friends and family as they navigate middle school and all of its ups and downs.
Zoey and Sassafras Boxed Set: Books 1-6 by Asia Citro, narrated by Janina Edwards
I’ve been a fan of this series since I discovered it a few years ago. An amazing blend of fantasy and science, the stories of Zoey and Sassafras involve mystical creatures with problems that can only be solved with very real solutions based on scientific methods. This is a great introduction to audiobooks for beginners – the slim books have short run times without sacrificing interest!
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The Magician’s Nephew: The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis as narrated by Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh reads this so damn well. His voice brings the various characters to life perfectly and the magic of being there at the beginning of Narnia is undeniable. A great start to an exciting series.
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Graeme Malcolm
This is the first audio book I’ve ever read with my kids. They were only 2 and 3 when I started playing the CDs while we drove around town and I’m sure they had no idea what was going on. When my eldest started asking for “the mouse” whenever I strapped him into his car seat, I cried with joy. The book alone is beautiful; the audio book, breathtaking.
Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston, narrated by Imani Parks
I haven’t listened to this one, but it gets rave reviews from friends and students in my circle. Amari delves into a previously unknown world of paranormal magic and desperately pursues her lost brother.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser, narrated by Robin Miles
The Vanderbeekers are the new American darlings. This extensive and still growing series follows the family on their adventure in their beloved New York City block. Add in pets, neighbors, and a brownstone that has character of its own, and you have a charming setup that is guaranteed to provide hours of enjoyable reading.
If You Can Get Me by Rebecca Stead, narrated by Cynthia Holloway
This is a bonus recommendation as you should also read the sci-fi classic A Wrinkle in Time to really flesh out the magic of this book. When You Reach Me is about middle school growing pains and family feuds, but it’s also a time-travel mystery, complete with ominous letters and dangerous strangers. It’s hard to explain without giving something away, but it’s beautiful.
Aru Shah and the End of Time: A Pandava Novel Book 1 by Roshani Chokshi, narrated by Soneela Nankani
I’ll be singing the praises of this series until I’m gone. Hilarious and engaging for people of all ages, with rich character development and equally stunning multi-layered world-building, Aru Shah will have you wondering why you chose a particular mid-tier surprise series in the past – you are a chosen one. I love Soneela Nankani’s voice. I love the Pandavas. I love that Roshani Chokshi rejects boring “good and evil” narratives. If you read an audiobook from this list, make it this one.
Norton Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth, narrated by Rainn Wilson
This is one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever read. It’s not flashy or highly produced. The story is the same sleek classic that has wowed readers for decades. The cover artwork remains the same. But something about it is just perfect. Rainn Wilson’s portrayal of the absurd pilgrimage The Phantom Tollbooth is delightful. I’m so glad my family was introduced to the book in this format – it was a huge hit.
Hope you found some audiobooks for kids that pique your interest! Looking for more audiobook content? Check out this list of audio books for toddlers. Happy reading!