“Baby Shark” can only play for so long before even the most patient parents consider jumping from a moving vehicle. Instead of looping kid-friendly music on your upcoming road trip, consider choosing one of the best audiobooks for family road trips for your en route entertainment. Choosing the right story just depends on your kids’ ages, interests, and how long your trip will be.
Road tripping with children can feel intimidating — packing snacks and drinks, extra sets of clothes in case of accidents (and frequent stops to avoid those accidents). Plus kids can get fidgety sitting still for so long, and toys, tablets, and music can only calm them for a limited time. Audiobooks may be the perfect solution for kids and parents to enjoy traveling a little more. Together, you can share classic stories and watch your kids’ eyes light up just like yours did the first time you read about Harry Potter. Or, perhaps you can listen to something totally new together and experience their surprise with them.
Amazon customers will know about Audible, and many audiobooks are also available on the apps Overdrive and Hoopla, which allow users to check out audiobooks for free from their local library. Check out the app store for your perfect audiobook platform as you prep to hit the road.
1. 'Harry Potter' series, by J.K. Rowling
Long drive ahead? Harry, Ron, and Hermione can keep you company for quite some time with the full series of books. Listen as Harry discovers his destiny, finds his place at Hogwarts, and, along with his trusted friends, seeks to bring down the dark lord who threatens the realm of magic. Begin with the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
2. 'Matilda,' by Roald Dahl
Any story by Roald Dahl makes a wonderful audiobook — think The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The same goes for Matilda, who takes on school bullies and discovers she has some surprising powers in the process. Her search for love and acceptance has moved generations, and your kids will love her, too.
3. 'Ghost,' by Jason Reynolds
Ghost, Sunny, Lu, and Patina are chosen for an elite middle school track team, one that could take them to the Junior Olympics if they can ever get along with each other. Ghost has no prior training, unless you count running away from his dark family past. Perhaps his new coach, with a history of his own, can help keep him on track.
4. 'Lumberjanes,' Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, and Faith Erin Hicks
It might seem wrong to read a graphic novel as audiobook, but reviewers say it’s just as good this way. The series follows a group of girls named Mal, Ripley, Molly, April, and Jo to summer camp, where they encounter fantastical creatures and supernatural events along the way. The series is ongoing with 60 issues to date, so this is one that can entertain the family for a long drive. The diversity of the characters is another reason readers love it.
5. 'A Series of Unfortunate Events,' by Lemony Snicket
These books are written simply enough for kids to follow, but are also somehow intricate enough for adults to enjoy. Kids who enjoy darker stories, like Coraline or The Nightmare Before Christmas, will love A Series of Unfortunate Events. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny lose their beloved parents when their house burns to the ground, but perhaps it wasn’t just a terrible accident. Indeed, it may be a villainous plot to steal their family’s fortune. Start with The Bad Beginning.
6. 'Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School,' by Julie Falatko
Sassy and Waldo are normal dogs who spend their days protecting the house from squirrels and the mail man. But when their little boy, Stewart, comes home from school each day, he smells sad and anxious. The two pups decide to intervene, piling on top of each other and into a trench coat. They head to school to protect Stewart, convincing other students they’re a new kid named Salty. But Stewart thinks Salty looks… familiar.
7. 'Percy Jackson' series, by Rick Riordan
Greek mythology is rewritten for modern day kids in this series, where Percy finds he’s no ordinary boy, but the son of Poseidon. This means he has amazing powers, big responsibilities, and a lot to learn. Start with book No. 1, The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. This book is a great option for families who have already finished (and loved) the Harry Potter books.
8. 'Wonder,' by R.J. Palacio
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity and never attended public school until fifth grade, where readers are dropped into his first day right alongside him. Auggie tries to make friends and prove he’s a normal kid, but his extraordinary features present a bit of a challenge. Listen on as Auggie deals with bullies, searches for friends, and learns as he goes.
9. 'Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate And Sword,' by Henry Lien
Peasprout Chen is studying the legendary art of wu liu — martial arts figure skating. Peasprout and her little brother, Cricket, are the first pupils from their rural town to attend the esteemed Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword. She feels more like an outsider than ever when the school is vandalized, and the blame is cast on her. Now, Peasprout must find the true vandal while still striving for the top rank among her classmates.
10. 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' by C.S. Lewis
A game of hide-and-seek becomes an unexpected adventure when Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy tumble through the back of their wardrobe and into the land of Narnia. Here they meet mythical creatures, like Mr. Tumnus the satyr, and the lion Aslan, the only being strong enough to defeat the White Witch and restore peace to the world. With seven books to go, this is a great choice for a long trip. Start with the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
11. 'Samantha Spinner and the Super Secret Plans,' by Russell Ginns
Uncle Paul has vanished, leaving behind a check for $2,400,000,000 for Samantha's sister, the New York Yankees for her brother, and for Samantha? A rusty umbrella with a mysterious tag attached, which reads, "Watch out for the RAIN." Samantha soon finds herself tangled up in some super secret plans, a dangerous group, and a hula hoop contest.
12. ‘The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place,’ by Maryrose Wood
Ever met children you thought must have been raised by wolves? The Incorrigibles actually were, which makes the job of teaching them difficult for their new governess. Begin this series with book No. 1, The Mysterious Howling. Penelope Lumley has just graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, and is excited to teach the children their Latin, etiquette, and more. Of course, she’ll have to teach them to act like people first, and hopefully in time for the holiday ball. But Penelope’s own past is shrouded in mystery, which may soon come to light.
13. 'The Edge of Extinction,' by Laura Martin
Set in a dangerous future, a dinosaur cloning experiment has gone horribly wrong, and humans are nearly extinct. The few who remain live in underground compounds to survive. Young Sky Mundy and her best friend Shawn are trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of her father, which will, of course, take them above ground and into dinosaur territory.
14. 'The Mysterious Benedict Society,' by Trenton Lee Stewart
A strange newspaper ad reads, "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" Many children respond, but only four are chosen. Reynie, Kate, Constance, and Sticky must go on a secret mission filled with intense riddles only the brightest children can solve. Listeners get to solve them alongside the characters, but remember, the only rule is that there are no rules.
15. 'The Hobbit,' by J.R.R. Tolkien
While the movie trilogy may not be fit for all ages, The Hobbit was originally written as a children's story. Tolkien can bring characters, creatures, and places to life like no other, and will keep kids of all ages captivated for hours as Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves venture bravely to win back a mass of gold from Smaug the dragon.
16. 'Hank the Cowdog,' by John R. Erickson
Hank is Head of Ranch Security, which is no easy gig, but someone’s got to do it. When a mysterious murder occurs on the ranch, Hank investigates but finds he is the one who stands accused. He abandons post to become an outlaw, where he meets a band of coyotes who take him in. Will Hank find his way back to the ranch and have his name cleared? Or will he become a wild dog forever?
17. 'The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie,' by Bruce Coville
Angus is a brownie, but not the fudge kind. Brownies are itty-bitty magical beings who love to do chores. Angus is assigned to Alex, a human girl who loves making messes. At first, living together doesn't come easily to the pair. But soon, they learn a mysterious curse binds them together and could harm Alex's family.
18. ‘The One and Only Ivan,' by Katherine Applegate
Ivan the gorilla lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, where people watch him in his glass enclosure day in and day out. But Ivan doesn’t mind, really. He is focused on art — how to capture tastes, sounds, and smells with beautiful colors and drawings. He doesn’t even miss the jungle much until Ruby, a baby elephant stolen from her family, comes along, and reminds him of his home.
19. 'Fablehaven,' by Brandon Mull
With six books to listen through, Mull's series can occupy the family's ears for quite some time. Fablehaven is a secret sanctuary for mythical creatures, like trolls, witches, and imps, to protect their extinction. No one outside of Fablehaven even believes in magic anymore, including siblings Kendra and Seth, even though their grandfather is Fablehaven's current caretaker. When an ancient, evil force is released, the siblings will learn all there is to know about magic, and will have to save their family in the process.
20. 'The Tale of Despereaux,' by Kate DiCamillo
Despereaux Tilling is a wee mouse who loves music, stories, and a princess named Pea. When Pea is kidnapped by a band of rats, Despereaux must find a way to rescue her. Along the way he will encounter other intriguing characters, like Miggery Sow, Roscuro, and more as he ventures through beautiful castles, dark dungeons, and back again.