25 Best Audio Books for Families on a Long Car Ride (2023)

As families embark on road trips or long journeys, keeping little ones entertained can be quite a challenge.

Endless choruses of “Are we there yet?” and squabbles over entertainment options can quickly turn a promising adventure into a stressful ordeal.

However, there’s a solution that can turn those tiresome miles into delightful journeys: audiobooks.

These captivating audio adventures not only captivate young imaginations but also provide a shared experience that brings families closer together.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the best audiobooks for kids and toddlers, offering a gateway to enchanting stories, memorable characters, and valuable life lessons.

At the end, we’ll explore how audiobooks can transform long car rides into enjoyable and memorable experiences for the whole family.

1. “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling

Embark on a magical journey with the “Harry Potter” series.

These beloved books, narrated by talented voice actors, transport listeners to the enchanting world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Join Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they face thrilling adventures, magical creatures, and battles against the Dark Arts.

With its immersive storytelling and intricate plotlines, this series offers hours of captivating entertainment for the whole family.

2. “The Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis

Step through the wardrobe into the world of Narnia with this beloved series.

Narrated by skilled voice actors, these enchanting tales follow the adventures of siblings as they encounter talking animals, mythical creatures, and epic battles between good and evil.

The rich storytelling, imaginative world-building, and timeless themes of bravery and redemption make this series a fantastic choice for long car rides.

3. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series by Rick Riordan

Experience the modern world colliding with Greek mythology in the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series. Join Percy Jackson, a demigod, as he navigates a world of gods, monsters, and quests. Narrated with humor and excitement, this series offers thrilling adventures, clever plot twists, and valuable lessons about friendship, loyalty, and self-discovery.

4. “A Series of Unfortunate Events” series by Lemony Snicket

Venture into the dark and mysterious world of the Baudelaire siblings in the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” series. Narrated by the author himself, this gothic tale follows the orphans as they encounter eccentric characters, unravel family secrets, and face the sinister Count Olaf.

With its dark humor, engaging narration, and intricate plot, this series keeps listeners on the edge of their seats.

5. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Embark on an epic quest with Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit.”

This classic adventure, narrated with depth and warmth, takes listeners through Middle-earth as Bilbo joins a company of dwarves on a journey to reclaim their homeland from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Filled with fantastical creatures, riddles, and heroic deeds, this tale captures the imagination and sparks a love for high fantasy.

6. “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and the power of friendship with “The Secret Garden.” Narrated with tenderness, this timeless classic tells the story of Mary Lennox, a young girl who discovers a hidden garden and transforms the lives of those around her.

The audiobook captures the enchantment of the garden and the emotional growth of the characters, making it a soothing and uplifting choice for a long car ride.

7. “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne

Join Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood with this charming audiobook. The gentle narration and warm, lovable characters offer a delightful listening experience for young children. The stories impart valuable lessons about friendship, kindness, and the simple joys of life.

8. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White

This heartwarming tale of friendship and loyalty between a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur is a timeless classic.

The audiobook captivates young listeners with its engaging narration, immersing them in the emotional journey of the characters and teaching important lessons about compassion and selflessness.

9. “Matilda” by Roald Dahl

“Matilda” tells the story of a young girl with extraordinary powers and a love for books. The audiobook brings Dahl’s witty and charming narrative to life, making it an excellent choice for older children.

It encourages a love for reading, highlights the importance of intelligence, and champions the strength of individuality.

10. “The Mysterious Benedict Society” series by Trenton Lee Stewart

Join the thrilling adventures of four gifted children who form a secret society to combat a nefarious plot.

Narrated with suspense and wit, this series combines puzzles, codes, and teamwork as the characters unravel mysteries and outsmart their enemies. It’s a perfect choice for those seeking a blend of action, humor, and brain-teasing challenges.

11. “The Land of Stories” series by Chris Colfer

Delve into the enchanting world of fairy tales come to life with “The Land of Stories” series. Narrated by the author himself, these books follow twins Alex and Conner as they traverse magical realms filled with beloved characters from classic stories.

This series offers a delightful mix of adventure, humor, and heartwarming moments that will captivate listeners of all ages.

12. “The Wingfeather Saga” series by Andrew Peterson

Embark on a high-flying adventure with the “The Wingfeather Saga” series. Narrated by the author, this epic fantasy follows the Wingfeather children as they discover their hidden powers and face an evil ruler in the land of Aerwiar.

With its rich world-building, memorable characters, and themes of courage and sacrifice, this series is a thrilling choice for a long car ride.

13. “The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place” series by Maryrose Wood

Enter the humorous and mysterious world of the Incorrigible children and their governess, Miss Penelope Lumley.

Narrated with charm and wit, this series follows the adventures of three children raised by wolves as they navigate peculiar situations and unravel the secrets of their origins. With its whimsical storytelling and eccentric characters, it’s sure to entertain the whole family.

14. “The Wrinkle in Time” series by Madeleine L’Engle

Embark on a mind-bending journey through time and space with the “A Wrinkle in Time” series. Narrated with wonder and depth, these books follow the Murry siblings as they travel through alternate dimensions to save their father and fight against darkness.

This series blends science fiction, fantasy, and philosophical themes, making it an engaging choice for older children and adults.

15. “The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter” by Beatrix Potter

Delight in the timeless stories of beloved characters like Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and Jemima Puddle-Duck.

Narrated with warmth and charm, this collection of Beatrix Potter’s tales takes young listeners on delightful adventures in the natural world, teaching valuable lessons about friendship, bravery, and kindness.

16. “The Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pope Osborne

Join siblings Jack and Annie as they embark on exciting time-traveling adventures in the “Magic Tree House” series.

Narrated with enthusiasm, these books take children to different historical periods and mythical realms, sparking their curiosity and imagination while imparting knowledge about history, science, and culture.

17. “The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection” by Beverly Cleary

Follow the mischievous and endearing Ramona Quimby in this beloved series. Narrated with humor and empathy, Ramona’s adventures and everyday challenges resonate with young listeners.

This collection offers a delightful blend of relatable experiences, family dynamics, and important life lessons that can keep kids engaged during a long car ride.

18. “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl

Embark on a whimsical and extraordinary adventure with James Henry Trotter in “James and the Giant Peach.” Narrated with charm and imagination, this classic tale follows James as he discovers a magical peach that grows to an enormous size.

Join James and his newfound insect friends as they journey inside the peach and encounter thrilling escapades and delightful surprises. With its larger-than-life characters, captivating storytelling, and themes of friendship and bravery, “James and the Giant Peach” is a captivating audiobook that will transport young listeners to a world of imagination and wonder.

19. “The Witches” by Roald Dahl

Enter a world where witches exist and a young boy must outsmart them in “The Witches.” Narrated with suspense and humor, this darkly funny tale follows a young boy who uncovers a diabolical plot by the Grand High Witch and her wicked coven.

As he navigates their schemes and attempts to save the day, he learns valuable lessons about courage and resilience. With its clever twists, memorable characters, and Dahl’s signature wit, “The Witches” is an engaging audiobook that blends fantasy, adventure, and humor in a way that will captivate young audiences.

20. “Paddington Treasury” by Michael Bond

Join the lovable and marmalade-loving bear from Peru in this delightful collection of Paddington Bear stories.

Narrated with warmth and humor, Paddington’s adventures in London are filled with mishaps, kindness, and heartwarming moments. This treasury is a perfect choice for young children who enjoy gentle stories about friendship and family.

21. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl

Join Charlie Bucket as he embarks on a delicious and whimsical adventure inside Willy Wonka’s extraordinary chocolate factory.

Narrated with wit and charm, this classic tale takes listeners through the magical and mysterious world of Willy Wonka, filled with Oompa-Loompas, Everlasting Gobstoppers, and a chocolate river. With its imaginative storytelling, quirky characters, and lessons about kindness and honesty, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is an absolute treat for young listeners during a long car ride.

Roald Dahl’s timeless story, combined with a talented narrator, brings the whimsy and excitement of the chocolate factory to life, engaging children’s imaginations and sparking their curiosity.

The colorful characters and unexpected twists make for an enchanting and thrilling listening experience that will captivate young audiences from beginning to end. So buckle up, grab some imaginary golden tickets, and get ready to journey into the delectable world of Willy Wonka and his incredible chocolate factory!

22. “The Secret World of Arrietty” by Mary Norton

Enter the enchanting world of the Borrowers in “The Secret World of Arrietty.” Narrated with a sense of wonder, this captivating story follows Arrietty Clock, a tiny Borrower who lives beneath the floorboards of a human house.

Join Arrietty on her daring adventures as she navigates the challenges of her miniature world and forms an unlikely friendship with a human boy. With its charming characters, imaginative setting, and themes of friendship and bravery, this audiobook is sure to captivate young listeners.

23. “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende

Embark on an epic journey through the magical realm of Fantastica in “The Neverending Story.” Narrated with a sense of wonder and excitement, this beloved tale follows a young boy named Bastian as he discovers a mysterious book that transports him to a world of dragons, sorcerers, and fantastical creatures.

Through his adventures, Bastian learns about the power of imagination and the importance of storytelling. With its rich world-building, engaging characters, and themes of courage and self-discovery, this audiobook is a fantastic choice for a long car ride.

24. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

Join Alice as she tumbles down the rabbit hole into a whimsical and nonsensical world in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

Narrated with whimsy and humor, this classic story follows Alice as she encounters peculiar characters like the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts. With its imaginative storytelling, witty wordplay, and imaginative landscapes, this audiobook offers a delightful and surreal listening experience that will keep young minds engaged during a long car ride.

25. “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame

Embark on a gentle and heartwarming adventure with the animal inhabitants of the riverbank in “The Wind in the Willows.” Narrated with warmth and charm, this beloved classic follows the escapades of Mole, Rat, Badger, and the eccentric Mr. Toad.

Together, they navigate the joys and challenges of friendship, while exploring the beauty of the English countryside. With its delightful characters, evocative descriptions, and timeless themes of friendship and nature, this audiobook offers a soothing and immersive experience for young listeners.

Here are some ways that audiobooks can help families learn and grow together:

  1. Engaging Stories for All Ages: Audiobooks offer a wide range of options, from picture books for toddlers to epic sagas for older kids and adults. Whether you’re delving into the magical world of “Harry Potter” or joining Winnie-the-Pooh’s whimsical adventures, there’s an audiobook suitable for everyone in the family. The engaging narration, sound effects, and music bring the stories to life, captivating listeners of all ages.
  2. Enhancing Imagination and Language Skills: Audiobooks provide a unique opportunity for children to exercise their imagination. Without the distraction of screens, they can visualize the characters, settings, and events described in the story. As they immerse themselves in the audio experience, their language skills, vocabulary, and comprehension abilities are also strengthened, all while enjoying the journey.
  3. Creating a Shared Experience: Listening to an audiobook together as a family fosters a sense of togetherness and shared adventure. As the story unfolds, parents and children can discuss the characters, predict plot twists, or even take turns narrating parts of the story. This shared experience builds bonds and creates lasting memories, making the journey as meaningful as the destination.
  4. Reducing Travel Stress: Long car rides can be tiring and tedious, but audiobooks provide a pleasant distraction that helps alleviate travel stress. Instead of constantly seeking entertainment or answering the age-old question, “Are we there yet?”, the family can immerse themselves in a captivating story that keeps everyone engaged and the time passing more swiftly.
  5. Educational and Inspirational Content: Audiobooks offer a wealth of educational and inspirational content. From historical biographies to science-based adventures, there are audiobooks that entertain while imparting knowledge and fostering curiosity. This makes long car rides an opportunity for children to learn about the world around them and be inspired by the stories they hear.

As families hit the road for their next adventure, incorporating audiobooks into the journey can transform long car rides into enjoyable and memorable experiences for everyone. These captivating stories entertain, ignite imaginations, create shared experiences, reduce travel stress, and offer educational value.

So, before you buckle up, pack your bags, and start the engine, remember to bring along a collection of audiobooks that will make your family’s travel time an unforgettable adventure.

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About the author

In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place. In 2019, she published "Exploring Milwaukee With Kids", a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids. She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6's 'Real Milwaukee', B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News. Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.

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