School is out, the kids are home, and many of us are planning our summer vacations. As a mom of four boys, I spend my summer months taking road trips with my kids. For the past 5 years, I have added audiobooks to our drives and loved how we laugh and talk about the books together. Read below for my favorite audiobooks to listen to with elementary or middle school age kids.
FOR ELEMENTARY KIDS
How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (3.5 hours)
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is known as a Viking hero throughout the land, but he wasn’t always. Go back and see how the small, awkward Hiccup got his start and learned to train his first dragon. David Tennant is the narrator of this series and does a phenomenal job with the Viking and dragon voices in this hilarious audiobook. Be prepared for a story that is NOTHING like the movies.
Note – Continue the story with the next 11 books in the How To Train Your Dragon series. Must read in order.
Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks (4 hours)
Joe and Ravi both feel like they are stuck at school without a place to fit in. Forced together, they don’t think they have anything in common but they discover they do. Realistic and funny, this book generated a lot of good discussion with my kids about understanding people who are different from us, how our assumptions are often wrong, and how to be more compassionate. The audiobook is read by two narrators whose voices and accents represent Joe and Ravi perfectly.
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (1.5 hours)
Andy and Terry have built a 13-story treehouse complete with self-making beds, a tank full of sharks, and a marshmallow machine. While living in their treehouse, they write books together and go on silly adventures. This audiobook features a hilarious Australian narrator and many crazy sound effects. The print books are full of illustrations and can be fun for kids to follow along as they listen to the books in the car.
Note – Continue the story with the next 9 books in the Treehouse Series. Best read in order.
I Survived the Great Molasses Flood, 1919 by Lauren Tarshis (1.5 hours)
In Boston 1919, a wave of molasses struck a crowded neighborhood causing massive damage and death. In this work of historical fiction, Tarshis imagines what it would have been like for an immigrant named Carmen living in the neighborhood to survive this disaster. The narrator of this novel brings history to life with the accents, voices, and sound effects.
Note – Learn more about history by reading any of the other 20 books in the I Survived series. Do not have to be read in order.
FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (10.5 hours)
Echo follows a harmonica through the hands of four different children in Germany, Pennsylvania, and California. Each child’s love of music and use of the harmonica helps them overcome the difficult circumstances they are facing. The story is beautifully crafted, and the audiobook is read by four narrators who voice each child’s tale. What makes this audiobook truly phenomenal, though, the music included anytime a character plays an instrument or sings a song.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (7.5 hours)
Ten-year old Ada is part of a group of children shipped out of London during the bombings in World War II, escaping her abusive mother in the process. In the countryside, she must learn how to survive the war, stand up for herself, and begin to trust again. The narrator of this historical fiction novel brings to life the characters with fantastic accents, voices, and personalities.
Continue the story with the sequel The War I Finally Won (8.5 hours).
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (3.5 hours)
Castle Crenshaw (aka Ghost) loves to run. When he beats the track team’s best sprinter, the coach insists he use his natural talent and join the team. However, Ghost is full of anger and hurt from his past and getting along with others isn’t always easy for him. He’s not sure if he wants to stay on the team and accept the friendship offered by his teammates or run away. The narrator of this audio book performs the voices and expressions of the characters perfectly.
Refugee by Alan Gratz (7.5 hours)
Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Germany, Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994, and Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. All three young people embark on dangerous journeys to leave the violence in their homeland in order to find refuge somewhere new. The three narrators bring the story and characters to life in this moving, and sometimes heart-breaking, novel. Each storyline is compelling and will teach kids about a different period in history and the importance of compassion.
Kelley Brandeberry works at the Scheben Branch as a Public Service Associate and leads the Chapter and Verse Book Group. She is an avid reader of all types of books and is always on the lookout for her next favorite.