By: Liz Tousey, OverDrive Collection Development Analyst.
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Many of us know from personal experience that audiobooks are great for the individual listener, but we think they’re also great for family listening! The classic way that families tend to listen to audiobooks is in the car, particularly for road trips, but they’re also great for bedtime and beyond! We’ve composed a short list of terrific audiobooks that are kid-friendly, but fun for parents too!
New Releases For the Kids Who Have Already Read Everything
Try The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, written and read by Pablo Cartaya, which will be released on May 16th. Thirteen-year-old Arturo has a short To Do list for this coming summer: save the family restaurant, protect the town from a villainous developer, and get the new girl in his apartment building, Carmen, to notice him. No problem, right? A great story about family, Cartaya’s debut novel will make you laugh, and also make you hungry! Other new audiobooks that we recommend are The Door in the Alley, a new adventure and mystery series written by Adrienne Kress and read by Kristen Sieh, and The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, a fantasy story written by Gail Carson Levine, and read by January LaVoy.
Classics for Parents Who Want to Pass Down Their Favorites
Personally, I can’t wait to listen to The Westing Game or A Wrinkle in Time with my kids, and I’ll bet I’m not the only book nerd determined to raise more of my kind. Of course there are hundreds upon hundreds of books that parents want to pass down to their kids, but some of our favorites are: Brian Jaques’s Redwall series with full cast recordings, Anne of Green Gables written by L.M. Montgomery and read by Kate Burton, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler written by E.L. Konigsburg and read by Jill Clayburgh, and many many more!
Kids may not recognize Tony Shalhoub or that he narrates A Cricket in Times Square written by George Selden, or that Kate Winslet is reading Roald Dahl’s Matilda to the family, but with such great actors, parents will know that these audiobooks are world-class. We also recommend David Tennant’s narration of the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell, and James Van Der Beek’s narration of Chomp by Carl Hiasson.
Popular Authors Who Write for Adults and Kids
Does Mom love John Grisham and James Patterson? Maybe Dad can’t get enough of Alexander McCall Smith and Neil Gaiman. Well, these popular authors also write a great kids book! Parents and children can share in their love of the same author with audiobooks like the charming Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, and the exciting Kid Lawyer: Theordore Boone by John Grisham. And lovers of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels will enjoy the kid-friendly “prequels” about Precious Ramotswe’s childhood sleuthing.
Fiction for the Armchair Historians
Spark an interesting conversation and teach kids a little something about the past with these historical fiction stories. Learn about Midwest prairie life in the 1870s and 1880s with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series read by Cherry Jones. Laugh and learn along with the Watsons as they go to Birmingham and experience the Civil Rights movement and it’s implications in the deep south in 1963, written by Christopher Paul Curtis and read by LeVar Burton. Or explore the refugee experience and discuss the Vietnam War with Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again.
And Of Course, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Star Wars
No list of kid-and-parent-friendly audiobooks is complete without the beloved characters and evergreen adventure stories of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Star Wars. With great narrators, these characters are always a hit and are interesting, exciting, and funny enough to keep everyone’s attention.