Sometimes you want to lose yourself in a good book, but other times you want the book to come to you. While there is some debate, we think listening to a book in its audio form absolutely counts as reading, and these selections will hook your school-age readers. Perfect for classroom read-alouds, long car trips, and lazy days at home, these are some of the best audiobooks for kids.
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1. Treasury of Greek Mythology, written by Donna Jo Napoli, narrated by Christina Moore
National Geographic has a legacy of bringing the world to its readers, and in this collection of Greek myths retold by award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli, the venerable publisher will surely nurture new aficionados of Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, Athena, and the rest of the gods and monsters of yore. As an audiobook, kids can listen to each installment or swallow all the myths here in one gulp.
Buy it: Treasury of Greek Mythology at Amazon
2. The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection, written by Beverly Cleary, narrated by Stockard Channing
Beverly Cleary’s irresistible Ramona Quimby is a childhood must-read, making this collection of audiobooks a must-listen. Ramona’s unique point of view and comical antics make the eight-book series timeless and a great family listen on long car rides. Actress Stockard Channing narrates the series with wit and verve.
Buy it: The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection at Amazon
3. Small Spaces, written by Katherine Arden, narrated by Renee Dorian
This is one of the best audiobooks for kids to listen to on a dark and stormy night. Arden’s creepy and exciting ghost story centers on three kids stranded in the woods as they face down not only the dark and creepy trees but also an army of watchful scarecrows. Add in the threat of someone called the Smiling Man, and this audiobook is sure to raise goosebumps on kids’ arms and beyond. Perfect sleepover fare.
Buy it: Small Spaces at Amazon
4. Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, written and narrated by Pablo Cartaya
Feeling too big for his grade and his age, Marcus Vega would prefer to avoid fights, but he can’t seem to. When she’s had it for the last time, Marcus’s mom takes him to Puerto Rico for a change of environment. He can’t resist the chance to search for the father he’s not seen in a decade. Narrated by the author, Cartaya’s voice (as a writer and a narrator) will hook listeners (especially boys) in for Marcus’s misadventures and discoveries.
Buy it: Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish at Amazon
5. Matilda, written by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet
A 2014 Audie Award winner, Roald Dahl’s story of Matilda, an exceptional young girl whose parents think she’s a pain, will captivate kid listeners. Voiced by acting legend Kate Winslet, Dahl’s characters—from misunderstood Matilda to the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull—come to glorious life, making it one of the best audiobooks for kids.
Buy it: Matilda at Amazon
6. A Wrinkle in Time, written by Madeleine L’Engle, narrated by Hope Davis
The audiobook version of L’Engle’s sci-fi and fantasy classic comes with some bonus features, including an introduction read by Ava DuVernay, director of the film adaptation, a foreword read by the author herself, and an afterword read by L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis. The book is narrated by actress Hope Davis.
Buy it: A Wrinkle in Time at Amazon
7. The Hobbit, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Inglis
J.R.R. Tolkien’s works can seem daunting in book form, especially for more reluctant readers. But in audiobook form, young readers interested in fantasy can be carried away by Bilbo Baggins’s exciting and dangerous quest and battle against the dragon Smaug without being overwhelmed by the dense prose.
Buy it: The Hobbit at Amazon
8. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, narrated by Anne Hathaway
Whether they’re already fans of the movie or have yet to become acquainted with Oz, there’s much to love in this audiobook of L. Frank Baum’s timeless story. Narrated by actress Anne Hathaway, this edition was nominated for a prestigious Audie Award in 2013 and earned its place as one of the best audiobooks for kids.
Buy it: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Amazon
9. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, written and narrated by Judy Blume
Author Judy Blume herself narrates one of her most famous works. Fourth grader Peter Hatcher is tired of playing second fiddle to his two-year-old brother Fudge’s incessant (and often hilarious) trouble-making. Adults and kids alike will love the chance to enjoy Blume’s one-of-a-kind insights into childhood.
Buy it: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing at Amazon
10. Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey From Airman to Castaway to Captive, written by Laura Hillenbrand, narrated by Edward Herrmann
The special young-adult adaptation of Hillenbrand’s Unbroken seems like it’s made for an audio adaptation. Telling the story of Olympian Louis Zamperini, who went on to be a lieutenant and airman in World War II, the saga details how Zamperini’s plane crashed and how he fought to survive, first as a castaway and later as a captive. The exciting listen is perfect for tweens.
Buy it: Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey From Airman to Castaway to Captive at Amazon
11. The Last Kids on Earth, written by Max Brallier, narrated by Robbie Daymond
Want the excitement of a zombie movie without witnessing any gore? The audiobook version of Max Brallier’s best-selling series, The Last Kids on Earth, is perfect fare for a gloomy day or long car ride. The first book introduces Jack Sullivan and his friends all riding out the post-apocalypse in his tree house, stocked to the brim with video games, snacks, and zombie-fighting must-haves.
Buy it: The Last Kids on Earth at Amazon
12. Bud, Not Buddy, written by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by James Avery
Christopher Paul Curtis’s multi-award-winning Bud, Not Buddy is also one of the best audiobooks for kids. The story is equally touching and compelling, and its protagonist, 10-year-old Bud, will win readers over with his point of view and his determination to find his father.
Buy it: Bud, Not Buddy at Amazon
13. From the Desk of Zoe Washington, written by Janae Marks, narrated by Bahni Turpin
Kids should listen to this audiobook before its film version emerges. (Kerry Washington’s production company is adapting Marks’s book.) Title character Zoe is on a quest to determine whether her father—in prison for most of her life—is really innocent, as he asserts he is, while also balancing her dream to enter a television baking challenge.
Buy it: From the Desk of Zoe Washington at Amazon
14. The Only Black Girls in Town, written by Brandy Colbert, narrated by Jeanette Illidge
Award-winning author Brandy Colbert’s middle-grade debut is an absolute gem. The audiobook narration of this story of two girls, the only two Black girls in their small seaside town, who set out to solve the mystery behind a box of old journals they find, makes it one of the best audiobooks for kids, especially tween-age girlfriends who want to start a book club.
Buy it: The Only Black Girls in Town at Amazon
15. The Last Fallen Star, written by Graci Kim, narrated by Suzie Yeung
All of the tales released under the Rick Riordan Presents label are extremely well-suited for audiobook adaptation. Riordan chooses authors from diverse backgrounds to adapt the myths and legends of many nations and ethnicities into modern retellings. In this novel, author Graci Kim brings Korean mythology to modern-day Los Angeles in the story of an adopted Korean American girl undertaking a dangerous quest to protect her witch clan family.
Buy it: The Last Fallen Star at Amazon
16. When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller, narrated by Greta Jung
This winner of the 2021 Newbery Medal is a can’t-miss read in audiobook form. Captivating as well as magical, this story of a girl who decides to untangle her family’s history after being visited by a mystical tiger is as much a tale of courage and hope as it is a fantastical adventure.
Buy it: When You Trap a Tiger at Amazon
Plus, check out 10 Places Kids Can Listen to Free Audiobooks.
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