Life is too short for bad books.
During my time as a Language Arts teacher, I repeated this mantra to my students countless times. But it’s true! There are so many amazing books out there, why waste your time with the bad ones?
- Get Free Audiobooks Through Amazon Audible
- Award-Winning Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips
- 1. Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (ages 5-10)
- 2. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (ages 6-12)
- 3. Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary (ages 6-12)
- 4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (ages 7-10)
- 5. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell (ages 7-10)
- 6. Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary (ages 7-10)
- 7. Double Fudge by Judy Blume (ages 7-10)
- 8. Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume (ages 7-10)
- 9. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (ages 7-10)
- 10. Ribsy by Beverly Cleary (ages 7-11)
- 11. The Lemonade War by Jaqueline Davies (ages 7-11)
- 12. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (ages 8-10)
- 13. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (ages 8-11)
- 14. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (ages 8-12)
- 15. The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier (ages 8-12)
- 16. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (ages 8-12)
- 17. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (ages 8-12)
- 18. Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters (ages 8+)
- 19. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (ages 8-12)
- 20. Gregor the Overlander Series by Suzanne Collins (ages 8-12)
- 21. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (ages 8-12)
- 22. Wonder by R.J Palacio (ages 8-13)
- 23. The Missing Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix (ages 8-14)
- 24. There’s a Boy in The Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar (ages 9-11)
- 25. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller (ages 9-12)
- 26. New Kid by Jerry Craft (ages 9-12)
- 27. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (ages 9-12)
- 28. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (ages 9-12)
- 29. Holes by Louis Sachar (ages 9-12)
- 30. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (ages 9-12)
- 31. Mary Poppins by Sophie Thompson (ages 9-12)
- 32. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (ages 9-12)
- 33. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (ages 9-12)
- 34. Diary of a Whimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney (ages 9-12)
- 35. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (ages 9-13)
- 36. Smile by Raina Telgemeier (ages 9-13)
- 37. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ages 10-12)
- 38. Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (ages 10-12)
- 39. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (ages 10-13)
- 40. Shiloh by Phylis Reynolds Naylor (ages 10+)
- 41. A Series of Unfortunate Events Series by Lemony Snicket (ages 10+)
- 42. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson (ages 10+)
- 43. Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury (ages 10+)
- 44. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (ages 10+)
- 45. Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (ages 11+)
- 46. Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke (ages 11+)
- 47. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (ages 11+)
- 48. The Giver by Lois Lowry (ages 12+)
- 49. Eragon Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini (ages 13+)
- “Free” Audiobooks Through Your Local Library
- It’s Storytime!
The same goes for audiobooks. Why listen to a book that isn’t enjoyable when there are so many great ones to choose from?
After all, life is also too short to ruin a great family road trip with boring audiobooks.
One of the best ways to keep everyone in the family entertained, engaged, and the conversation going during those long hours in the car is to stock up on some of the best audiobooks for family road trips.
As a road-tripping family and parents with almost 30 years of professional teaching experience, the following audiobooks have earned our stamp of approval as well as one or more of the most prestigious awards a book can achieve including:
- National Book Award
- Newberry Medal
- Printz Award
- Morris Award
- Excellence in Non-fiction for Young Adults (American Library Association)
- The Nēnē Award (Hawaii’s Children’s Choice Book Award)
- Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
- Edgar Alan Poe Award
- Andre Norton for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction
- Texas Bluebonnet Award (Texas Readers’ Choice)
- And many more …
So, before you you set off on your next family road trip, make sure to add one or more of these award-winning audiobooks to your travel itinerary!
Get Free Audiobooks Through Amazon Audible
If you’re like me, you’re always hesitant to lock yourself into a membership for a service that you likely will not use in everyday life.
While reading books is an integral part of our family culture, we prefer the old school paper and hardback variety to digital audiobooks … when we’re at home that is.
Enter Amazon’s Audible.
Pay by month. Cancel it when you don’t need it. Just the way I like it.
- Try Audible Premium Plus and Get Up to Two Free Audiobooks!
- Audible is a membership service that provides customers with the world's largest selection of audiobooks as well as podcasts, exclusive originals and more.
- Your Audible membership is free for 30 days. If you enjoy your Audible trial, do nothing and your membership will automatically continue. We'll send you an email reminder before your trial ends.
- Download the free Audible app to start listening on your iOS or Android device. You can also listen on any Alexa-enabled device, compatible Fire tablets, Kindles, Sonos devices and more.
- You can cancel anytime before your trial ends and you won’t be charged. There are no commitments and no cancellation fees.
The beauty of Amazon Audible is that you can try their top-shelf Premium Plus audiobook and podcast service for 30-days without paying one red cent.
You’ll also get two free books to jumpstart your audio library!
When we’re planning a road trip, we activate our Audible service for the month our family road trip is scheduled and, when we return home, we cancel the subscription which terminates when the end of the month we pay for rolls around.
Easy. Try it out. You’ll like it!
Award-Winning Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips
A surefire way to score the best audiobooks for family road trips is to choose those that have been honored with some of the most prestigious awards in children’s publishing.
We have selected the following list of the best audiobooks that have won one or more prestigious state, national, or international awards for outstanding literature.
While we have organized them by the age they’re intended for, keep in mind, that many of these audiobooks can be enjoyed by the entire family regardless of age! Ultimately, it depends on your children’s range of ages and level of comprehension.
Get ready for some great story-telling and a level of enjoyment you may not have imagined possible on long family road trips.
1. Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (ages 5-10)
Winner of Hawaii’s prestigious Nēnē Award, this book picks up where the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory leaves off.
Mr. Wonka rewards Charlie with the ownership of his Chocolate Factory, and they all board the flying Great Glass Elevator to go celebrate. Accidentally, however, the elevator sets sail for space and docks at the Space Hotel USA.
As in the first book, Dahl maintains a heavy theme of the consequences that follow children’s good and bad behavior through an eclectic cast of adult and child characters.
Even if your children have not read the first book, they will be quickly drawn into this sequel’s story which is every bit as intriguing and imaginative as the original.
2. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (ages 6-12)
Beverly Cleary’s books make for great audiobooks for families with young children.
In this Newbery Honor book, a substitute teacher replaces Miss Binney, deeply upsetting little Ramona.
Still, she really does try to behave herself; but, things just don’t go as planned. It seems like everything she does turns into a big mess.
She’s got such a killer crush on Davy that she can’t resist the urge to kiss him, and she loves Susan’s beautiful curls so much that she wants to pull them … just to watch them bounce back.
The teacher even offered her a present just for sitting still! Ramona is never a pest on purpose, but sometimes she still manages to get into trouble.
3. Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary (ages 6-12)
Determined to cheer her father after he loses his job, Ramona takes matters into her own hands in this Newbery Honor Book.
She practices TV commercials in hopes of becoming rich but ended up angering her teacher instead – and getting into a sticky situation with some burrs.
Then, she set out on a mission to make her father stop smoking. While Mom is now working full-time, Ramona’s big sister Beezus is apparently going through a hard time, having “reached a difficult age.”
Ramona is dedicated to her family and will do whatever it takes to make sure they succeed.
Cleary has a fantastic way of writing about the complex emotions that drive children’s actions, and readers will really connect with Ramona even as they find her situations incredibly funny.
4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (ages 7-10)
For more than 60 years, people of all ages have been entranced with Narnia every time they read about its magical creatures and earth-shattering battles between good and evil.
To avoid being injured or killed by the bombings of London during World War II, four English siblings are sent to live in a country house.
When exploring the old, rambling house, Lucy stumbles upon a wardrobe that takes her to the wondrous world of Narnia. After returning home, she goes back to Narnia with her siblings, Peter, Edmund and Susan.
The children then ally with the lion, Aslan, to battle against the wicked White Witch, Jadis.
5. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell (ages 7-10)
Billy made a bet with his friend and now has to eat 15 worms in as many days. The problem is that his opponent, who clearly wants him to lose, provides the worms – big, juicy ones!
At first, there are plenty of condiments to choose from peanut butter to horseradish. But later on, it looks as if Billy will win – that is if he can make it to the worm before anyone else does.
After consulting the doctor about Billy’s tummy issues, Billy’s family takes everything calmly. They not only help Billy through his gastronomic ordeal, but the bet’s outcome is always in doubt because the situation changes day by day.
A hilariously gross winner of the Mark Twain Award, California Young Reader Medal, and more, this book is perfect for kids who like to gross out their friends – and parents! – with stories about the disgusting things they’ve eaten.
6. Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary (ages 7-10)
This is the second book in the Ralph Mouse trilogy by Beverly Cleary (see The Mouse and the Motorcycle summary below).
This time, Mouse is desperate to run away from his overbearing family! At first, he is thrilled to escape to the summer campground nearby. But soon, the dangers of nature make him doubt his decision.
Not only does he have to worry about angry cats, scary dogs, and grouchy gophers… But he befriends Garf, a sad and friendless boy at the camp.
This tale is both funny and heart-warming, reminding us that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. It also serves as a reminder to appreciate what we have before we lose it.
7. Double Fudge by Judy Blume (ages 7-10)
Fudge’s new theme song is “Money, money, money…I love money, money, money.” He draws dollar signs for breakfast and looks through catalogs at bedtime. He makes enough “Fudge Bucks” so he can buy the whole world.
Fudge’s constant pestering is driving his brother, Peter, up the wall!
Peter’s life spirals out of control when he and his family meet their long-lost relatives, the Howie Hatchers of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Peter is in for a rough ride as he juggles seventh grade and a double dose of Fudge. Hold on tight, because Jude Blume fans know that anything can happen!
8. Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume (ages 7-10)
Peter Hatcher believes his worst nightmare is coming true when he goes on vacation.
Peter’s parents will be spending three weeks in Maine, living with Cootie Queen Sheila Tubman and the rest of her family.
If that wasn’t enough, Peter’s younger brother Fudge, the five-year-old human Energizer Bunny has decided to marry Sheila!
Once Peter arrives in Maine and starts exploring, he realizes that the state is full of surprises. His best friend Jimmy joins him at the shore, and they have a blast together!
9. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (ages 7-10)
Despereaux Tilling is a mouse who loves music, stories, and Princess Pea.
Roscuro is a rat who lives in darkness but desires to experience all the light in the world.
Miggery Sow is a naive servant girl who dreams of things that are way out of her league.
These individuals are going to start an adventure where they’ll travel through a dangerous dungeon, journey to a stunning castle, and come to know each other better along the way.
Then, what occurs?
10. Ribsy by Beverly Cleary (ages 7-11)
In this story told from a dog’s perspective, adventure awaits Ribsy, the fan-favorite canine character from Newbery Medalist Beverly Cleary.
Neil Patrick Harris’Audio rendition of this well-known story about a boy and his dog is just as hilarious and amusing as the original, maybe even more so.
Ribsy, always being curious, has gotten into trouble more than once. But this time he may have gone too far. In a turn of events that would be comical to anyone not in Ribsy’s position, he finds himself in the wrong station wagon with the wrong children.
While Ribsy searches high and low for Henry, he manages to fit in some extra fun – like scoring a touchdown for the local high school team!
If you’re a child who loves dogs and is looking for a light-hearted, funny story, then Ribsy is the book for you. It’s an independent reader favorite that has stood the test of time.
11. The Lemonade War by Jaqueline Davies (ages 7-11)
Having achieved over 15 different book awards including the Nēnē and Grand Canyon Reader’s Award, this book is the perfect blend of humor, intelligence, and the growing bond between a brother and sister.
Evan Treski is excellent with people. He’s great at talking to them, even adults. His younger sister Jessie, however, is stellar with math—but not especially good at understanding people. She knows that emotions are her weakest subject.
As summer vacation winds down, Evan and Jessie launch a merciless battle to see who can sell the most lemonade before school starts. With tempers flaring and both sides determined to win, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top—and if their fight will ever end.
This heartwarming novel captures the unique bond between siblings while exploring how even the most innocuous arguments can snowball out of control.
12. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (ages 8-10)
In Beverly Cleary’s Newbery Award-winning book, readers follow Leigh Botts, a young boy in the 6th grade, as he chronicles his thoughts and emotions to his favorite author Boyd Henshaw via letters.
Leigh Botts moves to a new town with his mother after his parents separated.
When Leigh starts writing to his favorite author as part of a school assignment, he never expects to make friends and open up about his issues with anger and his absent father.
This tale of Mr. Henshaw and Leigh and their unlikely friendship that profoundly affects Leigh’s life is a touching novel about the growing pains of life.
13. Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (ages 8-11)
The book is about Flora Belle Buckman and a squirrel named Ulysses. Ulysses develops unusual intellectual and physical abilities after being sucked into a vacuum cleaner.
Flora becomes more open-hearted as she bonds with Ulysses and learns to let go of her cynicism.
Flora and Ulysses teaches readers about the realistic side of families, demonstrating that even though every family has its own share of problems, there is always love at the root of it all.
14. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (ages 8-12)
The One and Only Ivan is a bestselling novel not only about hope, but also friendship. Ivan, a real silverback gorilla who was held captive for 27 years, is the inspiration behind this work.
Ivan himself narrates the charming story of his friendship with a dog named Bob and an elephant named Stella.
What would you do for a friend in need? That’s the question at the heart of this Newberry Medal-winning story, which is about friendship, compassion for animals, and the promises we make.
15. The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier (ages 8-12)
Awarded the Texas Bluebonnet Award by students’ popular vote, The Last Kids on Earth Series is one of my son’s favorites. And, personally, I think Audible’s audio version is even better!
The story begins in the middle of an apocalypse. The narrator and protagonist, 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, is living in a treehouse fortress in Wakefield and has turned it into a quasi-paradise.
It is stocked with plentiful junk food, weapons, video games, and comic books—all in spite of the dangerous chaos happening outside his window.
Jack is a foster child who the Robinsons took in when he was younger.They never formed a close bond with him, as they abandoned him at the first sign of the apocalyptic outbreak.
Though he was alone, he learned how to fend for himself throughout his life as an orphan.
He remembers Quint Baker as his only friend from before the destruction of his town. In flashbacks of school, they were both considered “dorks” and often bullied by Dirk Savage.
Now, forty-six days after the apocalypse, he still hasn’t seen either of them or any signs of life.
16. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (ages 8-12)
Beverly Cleary, a Newbery Medal-winning author, takes readers on an exciting adventure with Ralph, a young mouse who is thrilled when he sees a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check in to the Mountain View Inn.
When Keith’s red toy motorcycle catches Ralph’s eye, he makes it his mission to ride it.
This is the first book in a trilogy that includes Runaway Ralph (see summary above) and Ralph S. Mouse.
17. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (ages 8-12)
Because of Winn-Dixie is about a young 10-year-old girl, Opal, who is lonely and feels abandoned by her mother. She befriends a dog, Winn-Dixie, and he helps her form more new friendships. In the end, Opal is no longer sad and becomes happy with her life the way it is.
Winner of the Newberry Medal, Canfield Fisher Book Award, and Indies Choice Book Award, “Because of Winn-Dixie” is a heartwarming story that will resonate with the whole family.
18. Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters (ages 8+)
Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thistle Crumpet’s Camp designed specifically for tough ladies.
The five scouts of Roanoke cabin – Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley – look forward to their summers at camp every year. They love being able to spend time together in the great outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
At camp, the girls make great friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, get on Jen’s nerves . . . and go on supernatural adventures.
The last one is quite a normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods hold many secrets.
The Lumberjanes are back in this Eisner Award-winning, hilarious, and rollicking adventure series, now in novel format with brand-new adventures!
19. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (ages 8-12)
A Newbery Medal-winning author wrote this classic novel about friendship and loss that is modern and timeless.
Jess Aarons has been working hard all summer to be the quickest runner in the fifth grade, and he was almost there until Leslie Burke, the new girl at school, runs faster than him.
The two become close friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they create an imaginary world called Terabithia.
One day, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and something terrible happens.
It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.
20. Gregor the Overlander Series by Suzanne Collins (ages 8-12)
Here is a great way to get lost is fantastic story during a long drive!
Another one of my son’s favorite audiobooks and winner of the Nutmeg Children’s Book Award, this series follows the epic underground adventures of the main character, Gregor, a young boy from an impoverished family who accidentally tumbles into the dark world beneath New York City … through an air duct in the laundromat.
There, he must help stop a war between giant rats and bats while also trying to find his way back home.
The series consists of five books: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, and Gregor and the Code of Claw.
The series has been praised for its “fast-paced plot” and “likable characters.” It is perfect for readers who enjoy a good adventure story with a touch of fantasy.
21. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (ages 8-12)
Elected by popular student vote for the Hampshire Book Award, this series is perfect for Greek mythology fans.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief tells the story of a young boy, Percy Jackson, who discovers his father is a Greek god – thus making him a demigod.
He and his friends’ task is to find and return Zeus’s lightning bolt while monsters from the Underworld try to stop them.
The Percy Jackson series consists of five books: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian.
22. Wonder by R.J Palacio (ages 8-13)
As a parent and a teacher, I believe Wonder is one of the best books ever written.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity that, until recently, kept him from attending mainstream schools. Now starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, Auggie just wants to be an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t seem to get past his extraordinary face.
Winner of over 7 book awards including the Mark Twain Award, the story of Auggie will have everyone in the family both laughing and crying as this truly moving story unfolds.
23. The Missing Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix (ages 8-14)
These fictional young-adult novels recount the tales of famous children from history who were abducted by futuristic time travelers and sent to the 21st century as infants.
Jonah, who is one of the stolen children, must help return all of the missing kids to their rightful places and fix time before it becomes destroyed, along with his non-adopted sister Katherine.
This multi-award-winning series consists of eight novels: Found, Sent, Sabotaged, Torn, Caught, Risked, Revealed, and Redeemed.
24. There’s a Boy in The Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar (ages 9-11)
Bradley Chalkers is a fifth-grader who struggles to get along with his classmates. That is, until he meets Carla, the new school counselor. Not only does she listen to his wacky stories, but she encourages him to use his powerful imagination.
Bradley’s social world is broadening, but just when things are looking up for him, the school board decides to let Carla go. What does this mean for Bradley’s future?
Sachar’s novel, in which a young boy looks for companionship and belonging, is among his most cherished. Bradley’s journey to find himself will resonate with many readers, as he goes from feeling lost to having found a real connection with Carla.
25. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller (ages 9-12)
This Newberry Medal-winning, heartwarming story based in Korean folklore follows a young girl on her journey to save her grandmother using the power of stories.
After Lily’s family moves in with her ailing grandmother, a tiger from Korean folktales materializes and initiates Lily on a journey to uncover her family’s hidden past.
26. New Kid by Jerry Craft (ages 9-12)
Seventh grader Jordan Banks’ favorite pastime is drawing cartoons about his life.
Jordan’s parents send him to a private school that is known for its academic excellence rather than the art school of his dreams. Jordan struggles as one of the few kids of color in his grade at the new school.
Every day, Jordan takes the trip from his apartment in Washington Heights to the Riverdale Academy Day School. He soon realizes that he doesn’t really fit into either world and is torn between them.
As Jordan enters a new school, will he be able to maintain his current friendships while still learning how to fit into his new environment?
Winner of over 25 book awards (including Newbery and Coretta Scott King) and recognitions, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the pressure to succeed is high.
The full-cast audio adaptation of the graphic novel is deeply engaging and moving.
27. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (ages 9-12)
A Newbery Medalist tells a hilarious and touching story about the unexpected friends we make in our neighborhoods.
On an average day, four people’s lives become intertwined in ways they never could have imagined.
Sometimes good luck, intelligence, and courage come together to create a fortuitous event- like one where a victim is saved and their tormentor receives retribution. Such was the case here, resulting in newfound friendship as well.
28. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (ages 9-12)
In this lyrical coming-of-age fairy tale, a young girl must unlock the magic buried deep inside her with help from the most unlikely of friends: a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon.
Each year, the residents of the Protectorate give a newborn baby to the witch who lives in the forest as an offering. They do this with the belief that it will stop her from terrorizing their town. However, what they don’t know is that Xan, the witch in question, is actually quite kind and gentle.
A kindhearted protagonist, Xan, lives in the forest with two lovable creatures–a Swamp Monster named Glerk and a dragon called Fyrian.
If any children are unfortunate enough to be abandoned in the dark woods, Xan makes it her mission to find them and bring them back to safety on the other side of the forest.
On these journeys, she feeds them starlight so they’re never hungry.
One year, Xan mistakenly feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight. As a result, the once-ordinary child is now filled with extraordinary magic. Recognizing her mistake, Xan decides to raise Luna as her own.
All the while, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch.
After always being protected, Luna must now protect those who have protected her – even if it means the end of the world she knows.
29. Holes by Louis Sachar (ages 9-12)
The book, winner of both the Newberry Medal and National Book Award, tells Stanley Yelnats’ story. His great-great-grandfather was said to be cursed, so bad luck follows him everywhere he goes.
One day, this misfortune leads to his wrongful imprisonment in Camp Green Lake juvenile detention camp.
Each day, Stanley and the other boys at the camp are forced to dig large holes in the dirt. Eventually, Stanley realizes that the Warden has them digging holes because she is looking for something.
As Stanley continues to dig holes, he meets the other boys at camp and starts to piece together why his family has a curse. As the story unfolds, Stanley begins to understand the connection between his past and what the Warden is searching for.
30. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (ages 9-12)
Jerry Spinelli, the winner of the Newberry Medal and Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award, tells the story of Maniac Magee: a homeless runaway who loses his parents in a deadly accident finds himself in a town that is racially segregated between black and white.
For some time, although he is white, Maniac lives with a black family on the east side of town, until somebody defaces their house with a racist slur.
In this tall tale for middle readers, Spinelli presents a funny yet touching look at race relations.
31. Mary Poppins by Sophie Thompson (ages 9-12)
In 1934, a timeless classic was written exploring the fraught relationship between children and adults through the story of Mary Poppins- a sensible English nanny with magical powers.
The Banks children have never seen a nanny like Mary Poppins.
The story begins when their new nanny is carried by the east wind to the doorstep of the Banks house, holding a parrot-headed umbrella and a magic carpetbag.
The extraordinary nanny Mary Poppins can do all sorts of amazing things, like sliding up banisters and pulling an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag. Not to mention, she can make medicine taste delicious!
Mary Poppins brings magic and make-believe to life!
32. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (ages 9-12)
When 16 unexpected people come together to listen to Samuel W. Westing’s will, a strange set of events starts unfolding.
Though the eccentric, game-loving millionaire’s reasoning for choosing a virtual stranger – who might also be a murderer – to inherit his fortune is unknown, one thing is certain:
Even in death, Sam Westing won’t stop himself from playing one final game.
A multi-award winner (including the Boston Globe-Horn and Newbery Medal), this is one of the best audiobooks for family road trips for mystery lovers!
33. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (ages 9-12)
Rowling has won more awards and recognition for her epic series about the young wizard boy than can be listed here.
And when you add the narrating voice of Jim Dale to the Harry Potter Series, you’ve got the makings of one of the best road trip audiobooks out there!
When letters start appearing at Harry Potter’s home address, four Privet Drive, he has no idea they’re meant for him – or that they’ll change his life forever.
Green ink on yellowish parchment? With a purple seal, no less! These items are swiftly confiscated by his horrible aunt and uncle.
On Harry’s eleventh birthday, a man called Rubeus Hagrid comes in with some truly incredible news: Harry Potter is a wizard and has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
An amazing journey is just beginning!
34. Diary of a Whimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney (ages 9-12)
While not a particularly distinguished work of literature, the Diary of a Whimpy Kid series is just …
Add some hysterical laughs to your family vacation with this series that can be enjoyed by younger kids and adults alike.
Jeff Kinney’s debut novel is a hilariously accurate portrayal of boys going through the ups and downs of adolescence.
Greg Heffley, a sixth-grade student, is perpetually annoyed with his younger brother, an older one and well-meaning parents.
But he is insightful enough to record his daily thoughts in a journal – not some diary like those used by most girls.
This first in a series of 17 books takes readers on a hilarious ride through his turbulent first year of middle school.
35. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (ages 9-13)
Winner of the Newberry Medal and Coretta Scott King Award, Bud, Not Buddy is set in Flint, Michigan during the Great Depression.
Bud, a 10-year-old African American boy, has been living in an orphanage his entire life. He has never known his father and his mother passed away when he was just a baby. When the orphanage threatens to send Bud to a foster home, he decides to run away in search of his father.
With only a flier advertising a band to go on, Bud sets off on an adventure that will change his life forever. Along the way, he learns about family, friends, and what it means to be part of a community.
36. Smile by Raina Telgemeier (ages 9-13)
After opening a play on Broadway and everything appearing to be going well, Sarah Ruhl’s left side becomes paralyzed unexpectedly.
Though 90 percent of Bell’s palsy patients experience a full recovery, Sarah find herself in the unlucky ten percent.
Being a woman, wife, mother, and artist working in theater comes with unique challenges, including the disconnect between what’s going on inside and outside.
Ruhl then embarks on a decade-long journey to find a cure, all while trying to come to peace with her new appearance. Even though it looks like her, this face cannot express emotion or intentions well.
In her stunning examination of loss and reconciliation, Ruhl reveals to us that a smile is not just a facial expression, but rather a crucial way of communicating and connecting with others – what makes us human.
If you’re looking for a thoughtful, humorous, and insightful play, look no further than Smile.
37. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ages 10-12)
Nobody Owens is an extraordinary boy who lives in an equally extraordinary place – he’s the only living resident of a graveyard.
Bod was raised by ghosts, werewolves, and other creatures that live in cemeteries since he was an infant. He has learned the customs of their time as well as their ghostly abilities – like being able to fade so mortal humans can’t see him.
Is a boy who was raised by ghosts prepared to deal with the wonders and terrors of both the living and dead worlds?
The Graveyard Book is a magical, terrifying, and adventurous novel that has won numerous prestigious awards, including the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal, and the Hugo Award for best novel.
38. Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (ages 10-12)
The 2019 Newbery Medal was won by Meg Medina for her novel Merci Suarez Changes Gears. In the book, a 6th-grade girl named Mercilina must deal with many changes in her life, including those involving friends and family.
Merci Suarez expected sixth grade to bring some changes, but she had no clue just how different it would turn out to be. Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students.
They don’t have a luxurious lifestyle nor do they sail on boats, but in return for their free education, they are required to do extra service hours for their community.
When Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who just so happens to be Merci’s Sunshine Buddy from school, jealousy consumes her. Poor Merci quickly becomes the victim of Eduardo’s seeking for attention.
At home, things are utter chaos: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry for no reason. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s the source of all this angst, so she’s left to fend for herself both at school and at home.
Award-winning author Meg Medina’s coming-of-age tale is full of humor and wisdom, focusing on the confusion and constant change that defines middle school – as well as the steadfast connection that defines family.
39. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (ages 10-13)
An American classic and a big favorite among Texans published in 1956, Old Yeller is a classic historical fiction novel about the bond between a boy and his dog.
It’s just a darn good story.
Fourteen-year-old Travis Coates is home alone with his Mama and little brother when a cattle drive takes his Papa away. A brave stray dog becomes his ally as they protect the homestead together.
During a plague of hydrophobia (rabies) that threatens the lives of his family, young Travis has to make one of the most heart-rending decisions of his life.
This novel honestly portrays the complicated reality of family and friendship, as well as the ups and downs of growing up.
Old Yeller won a Newbery Honor award in 1957 and has remained a classic children’s story loved by many.
40. Shiloh by Phylis Reynolds Naylor (ages 10+)
The Newbery Award-winning tale of adventure, courage, and love from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor comes to life in this unabridged recording. When a dog gets into trouble, it’s up to the young boy who would save him to use his wits and courage to set things right.
Marty Preston, 11, loves spending time in the hills near his home in Friendly, West Virginia. Sometimes he takes his .22 rifle to shoot cans from a rail fence. Other times he goes early in the morning just to sit and watch foxes and deer.
However, one fateful summer Sunday, Marty ran into something novel on the road by the old Shiloh schoolhouse – a young beagle. And that’s where his trouble started.
What do you when the dog you suspect is being abused runs to you for help, and its owner has a gun? This is Marty’s reality, and he will have to face it alone.
Marty will have to draw on his courage, learning in the process that it is not always easy to discern what is right and wrong.
A boy will go to extreme lengths to save a dog.
41. A Series of Unfortunate Events Series by Lemony Snicket (ages 10+)
Don’t bother listening to this new audio edition of The Bad Beginning (Book 1) – it’s sure to upset you, just like a car alarm, bagpipe music, or a doorbell ringing in the middle of the night.
This unique multi-voice recording brings the first book in Lemony Snicket’s alarming A Series of Unfortunate Events to such terrible life that no one should really have to experience it.
If you don’t enjoy horrific novels with themes of fire, villainy, and suffering (and narrated in a creepy way by the immitigable Tim Curry), then you should find another book to listen to.
This is probably the worst-best audio book you could possibly listen to.
Winner of the Colorado Children’s Book Award, Nevada Young Readers’ Award, and the Nēnē Award.
42. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson (ages 10+)
Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home- he doesn’t need to add middle school into the mix.
Rafe has an excellent plan for making this the best year ever–if he can only manage to follow through with it. With his best friend Leonardo awarding him points, Rafe attempts to break every rule in his school’s overbearing Code of Conduct.
Chewing gum in class – 5,000 points!
Running in the hallway = 10,000 points!
Pulling the fire alarm – 50,000 points!
But as Rafe’s game starts to improve, he must decide if winning is the only thing that matters to him, or if it’s time to face the bullies, truths, and rules he’s been avoiding.
The infamous James Patterson writes a hysterical yet heartwarming story about an imaginative kid that will stay with you for a long time.
43. Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury (ages 10+)
Here’s a great option for you history buffs!
Tomi’s story begins in Japan, where his grandfather and parents were born. They eventually emigrated to America in search of a better life.
Tomi and his friends care more about playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats, than anything – including the seemingly far-off World War II.
Then, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor led the United States to declare war on Japan. In response, American authorities rounded up Japanese men, including Tomi’s father and grandfather.
During this time, being Japanese in America is a scary thought for many, but one constant remains the same–Tomi’s friends, the Rats, are always loyal.
44. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (ages 10+)
Winner of the John Newbery Metal for the best children’s book of 2011.
Mixing reality with fiction, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an amazing two months experience by a boy named Jack Gantos. His excitement for the upcoming vacation is ruined when his parents begin to feud and he gets “grounded for life.”
To add insult to injury, his nose begins spurting blood at every little shock.
Once Jack’s mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town, he experiences plenty of excitement (and shocks).
As Jack records one obituary after another, he becomes entangled in a strange adventure involving melting wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, deceptive promises, a DIY airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man riding a tricycle, a dancing disease — and possibly even murder.
This sly and sharp-edged narrative is the author at his best, making readers laugh out loud with unexpected humor while depicting growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely uncertain.
45. Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (ages 11+)
If your next road trip is a long one, here’s a good long story to make the time fly by!
This is a brand-new special edition recording of the first audiobook in the worldwide best-selling trilogy from Suzanne Collins narrated by Emmy Award-winning actress Tatiana Maslany!
North America, now known as the ruins of Panem, is home to a shining Capitol and 12 outlying districts.
To keep the districts in check, the Capitol induces them all to send two children between 12 and 18 years old to participate in the Hunger Games every year. The Hunger Games is a fight to the death that plays out live on television for all district residents – and spectators – to see.
Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist of this first book in the trilogy, is a 16-year-old girl. After her father passed away, she now takes on the responsibility of hunting animals to provide food for her family.
Her younger sister, Prim, is chosen to be a “tribute”, but Katniss volunteers to go instead and becomes a hero for the people as she stands in rebellion against the oppressive government regime.
46. Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke (ages 11+)
What if we could make the characters in a book come to life? Not like when you’re listening to an audiobook and they seem real…but for actuality.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if characters could come to life and jump off the page?
Get this book FREE with an Audible Trial!
Then imagine if those characters’ worlds became our reality.
Young Meggie’s peaceful life with her methodical father Mo, a bookbinder, is destroyed when Mo reads aloud from Inkheart and accidentally frees the obstructive ruler Capricorn from the world of fiction.
Suddenly, Meggie finds herself in the middle of the type of adventure she has only read about in books.
Meggie and Mo must learn to harness the magic to end this nightmare.
They need to find a way to change the course of the story that has forever changed their lives.
Recognized by The American Library Association as a Notable Children’s Book, Inkheart is a classic story about books, imagination, and life.
47. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (ages 11+)
The Crossover is a deserving recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal Winner and 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner.
“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks… The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” Josh Bell, a 12-year old with dreadlocks, announced.
Josh, it seems, has more than a talent for shooting hoops. He’s got the skills to pay the bills, and in this Kwame Alexander novel, he uses verse to tell his family’s story in a fast-paced way that focuses on family and brotherhood.
Josh and Jordan must learn to take responsibility both on and off the court if they want to avoid the terrible consequences of their actions. The heart-stopping climax of their story proves that things will never be the same for their family again.
48. The Giver by Lois Lowry (ages 12+)
The Giver, winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal, has become one of the most memorable novels in recent years.
The story follows twelve-year-old Jonas as he tries to make sense of his seemingly ideal but colorless world in which everyone has traded their individuality and free will for conformity to the powers that be.
The secrets of his dark and complicated community are only unraveled once he is given the role as Receiver of Memory.
Lois Lowry has written three novels that complement The Giver. These books are Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
49. Eragon Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini (ages 13+)
Inheritance Cycle, a New York Times bestseller about the dragon rider Eragon, has sold more than 35 million copies and is an international sensation among fantasy fans.
Eragon, a fifteen-year-old boy who lives on a farm, discovers that he is destined to become a Dragon Rider. The young boy is gifted with an old sword, a dragon companion, and the wisdom of an experienced storyteller. However, he soon realizes that these gifts come with great responsibility as he is thrust into a world of magic and power.
Now, his choices could be the salvation – or destruction– of the empire.
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“Free” Audiobooks Through Your Local Library
Technically, nothing is free; however, probably the closest-to-free way to enjoy audiobooks is through membership with your local library.
Many brick-and-mortar municipal libraries have made significant advances in their services to provide more than just analog resources. Although many public libraries would be hard-pressed to provide the vast assortment of literature available online, your sure to find award-winning titles (even those in this post) to an extent.
Explore the website of a library near you to see what’s available!
Take the guesswork out of selecting a book that will not only be worth your time, but one you’ll want to listen to again and again …
… and maybe you’ll never hear “Are we there, yet?” again!
We’ve collected some of the best book suggestions from around the internet, so all you have to do is sit back, relax, KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD, and enjoy.
Now, get out there!
Joshua DavisBeing outdoors is freedom! Being outdoors with my wife and two boys is LIVING! Whether in my backyard or getting lost in a National Park, there’s nothing I’d rather do than explore, discover, and experience the paradise that surrounds us. Give me my family, a backpack, and a trail and my life is full!
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