AUDIOBOOKS: Chapter Books the Whole Family Can Enjoy Together

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Many years ago, at the suggestion of a good friend, we tried listening to audiobooks on a road trip. My children were then 3, 5, and 7. We've been listening to audiobooks essentially nonstop whenever we are in the van ever since!

This list includes only the very best of the audiobooks we have listened to and I heartily recommend all of them. They are listed in roughly chronological order. As the kids have grown up, the books have gotten longer and more sophisticated. I have inserted ages of my kids when I could (my record keeping has gotten more consistent over time). While all of the audiobooks below are wonderful, I have starred (*) those audiobooks that were special favorites of all four of us because of the fabulous stories and marvelous narrators, and also those audiobooks I just personally consider especially wonderful and worth listening to. We hope you enjoy all of these audiobooks as much as we have!

This list is continually updated (newest audiobooks at the end). 
Find book descriptions on Amazon by clicking on link.

Fall 2014 (Children 3, 5, 7)

Beverly Cleary (Also available as collections)
E.B. White
Roald Dahl (Also available as collections)

Fall 2016 (Children 5, 7, 9)

Series of Unfortunate Events Series: books 1 -4
Harry Potter Series*: books 1 -3 and part of 4
How to Train Your Dragon Series: books 1 - 6
We did not finish any of these series this year. They were all wonderfully suspenseful and interesting, but eventually they became a bit too dark, serious, and intense for my young kiddos. My oldest finished reading them on his own. As a family, we resumed listening to Harry Potter several years later.

A Dragon's Guide Series

Fall 2017 (Children 6, 8, 10)

26 Fairmount Avenue Series by Tomie De Paola (autobiographical, read by the author)

Fall 2018 (Children 7, 9, 11)

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Series 

The Mysterious Benedict Society Series

All-of-a-Kind Family Series
The Vanderbeekers
These are read by well-known actors and wonderfully incorporate music into the audio. My daughter said listening to these felt like watching a movie! These would be great for all ages.

Fall 2019 (Children 8, 10, 12)
This school year features quite a bit of Middle Ages historical fiction.

The Secret Garden*
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!* (preview! some mature content)
Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry (at times confusing and over even my head, but ultimately fascinating - only the 10yo and 12yo listened to this one with me)

The Knights' Tales Series by Gerald Morris
We listened to the classic The Sword in the Stone and I did not think it made the cut for this list (although sections were fascinating). These were light-hearted and more entertaining.

Harry Potter series 
Books 1-4 were read in a previous year. This is when I thought my youngest was old enough to handle the rest of the series. It was still a little much for an 8yo.
The Midwife's Apprentice (preview: some mature content)
Echo* (preview: heavy themes)
The Door in the Wall* (a favorite of mine)
Adventures with Waffles (my kids laughed out loud a lot during this one)
The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog (fascinating Middle Ages novel, but preview first)
The Long Winter (From the Little House series - a very appropriate covid19 listen)

Richard Peck's Grandma Dowdel series
One Crazy Summer* (my daughters listened to the sequels P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama on their own and loved them)

Our Christopher Paul Curtis summer

Fall 2020 (Children 9, 11, 13)
This school year features quite a bit of Early Modern (1600-1850) historical fiction.

The One and Only Ivan (preview: some disturbing elements)
Finding Langston* (read my review here)

The Birchbark Series

I consider listening to audiobooks one of the finest additions to our family life. It is magical to have this common trove of stories in our collective memories. It also significantly decreases sibiling squabbles while driving. We do not have an audible subscription, although I hear those are lovely and very convenient. We listen to CDs and eAudiobooks checked out from our local library. You could also find many free on Librivox (with variable narrator quality).

A note about choosing audiobooks based on your kids' ages. I tend to choose books based on the ages of my older kids. Often times the books are a bit challenging for my youngest to follow. She sometimes has me stop the recording so she can ask a question of clarification. As you can imagine, my older two are not entirely patient with that, but I tell them this is the price of listening to books more at their level than hers. All my kids occasionally ask to stop the recording so they can ask a question or make a comment. But mostly we naturally talk about the book when we reach our destination or just at random times during the day.

Here are links to all our favorite picture book read-alouds by subject: 



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