Audiobooks are a wonderful way to enjoy reading and appeal to a variety of children. Whether it be a child who is a reluctant or struggling reader, a child who is an auditory learner, or simply a child who enjoys relaxing while listening to an enchanting story, audiobooks have won their place in readers’ hearts.
This genre of book is so important that beginning in 2008, the American Library Association began awarding the Odyssey Award annually to the best audiobook produced for children or young adults that year.
You’ll find several of our titles on previous winning lists of the Odyssey Award as well as many that were chosen just because they are fun to listen to! Whether it be a compelling storyline, an enchanting narrator, or a full cast of characters, each of these audiobooks will be loved by your young reader. We’ve included picture books and middle-grade novels so this list can grow with your young reader
For tips on where and how to listen to these, be sure to read the FAQs at the bottom of this entry. But for now, grab a pen and a piece of paper to jot down these 20 best audiobooks for kids to listen to.
20 Best Audiobooks for Kids to Listen To
Restart by Gordon Korman
When Chase accidentally falls off the roof of his house, his memory is wiped clean; when he returns to school, he realizes that he was the school’s biggest bully. Desperate to restart and make amends for his previous poor behavior, Chase tries to befriend kids who are scared of him.
Told from several viewpoints, each of the characters’ chapters is read by a different narrator, helping to immerse the reader in Chase’s world. A fun and valuable novel, readers will love this audiobook.
New Kid by Jerry Craft
The Newbery-winning graphic novel by Jerry Craft is a powerful realistic fiction tale about Jordan, who is struggling to find a rhythm at his new school while also balancing his life in Washington Heights.
Listeners of the audiobook version will be immersed in the full cast of characters, as well as sound effects that round out the story. An awesome story that’s sure to be a hit with middle-grade readers.
Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed
Chicago fifth grader Simon has big dreams of being a rapper one day. When his teacher assigns him a project, Simon must overcome his fear and complete an oral presentation on something that matters to him: homelessness.
Written and read by Dwayne Reed, Simon’s raps are performed by the teacher-writer, adding a musical element to this audiobook. An important story with a great lesson, listeners will love hearing Simon’s raps come alive.
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell
The audiobook recording of The Wizards of Once, the first in the series of the same name, is recorded by David Tennant and features a magnificent story of a battle over magic. When Wizard Xar and Warrior Girl Wish meet, they embark on an adventure together to defeat an evil force that has been awakened.
Enchanting listeners with sound effects and incredible voices, the audiobook is spell-binding. Perfect to listen to on a road trip or to share with family members, be sure to have the second in this series ready to go!
Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds
The winner of several ALA Youth Media Awards, including the 2023 Odyssey Children’s Award, Reynolds’s novel Stuntboy, in the Meantime is a heartwarming story about a boy named Portico whose superpower is keeping those around him safe. When his parents argue, his anxiety emerges.
Narrated with a full cast, readers will relate to Portico’s anxiety, his imagination, and his story. Middle grade readers will love listening along, and families will have lots of discussions to explore if they share this together.
Boogie, Boogie, Y’All by C.J. Esperanza
While this vibrant picture book is an explosion of color, the audiobook version is just as incredible. Narrated by author and illustrator C.J. Esperanza, this story features a young child who stops to notice the graffiti art around them.
Lyrical, rhythmic, and melodic, listeners will be enchanted by Esperanza’s performance. For a powerful combination, try pairing the audiobook with the picture book!
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
When 12-year-old Iris learns that a whale named Blue 55 has problems hearing other whales’ tones, she immediately feels connected to it. Iris is deaf and vows to create a whale song just for Blue 55 to let the whale know they’re not alone.
Honored by the Odyssey Award for being an outstanding audiobook, the narrator of Song for a Whale is relatable and the voice of the whale’s thoughts will capture readers’ imaginations.
Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews
This award-winning picture book autobiography tells the story of Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews growing up in New Orleans and chasing his dreams. When Troy finds an old trombone, he teaches himself to play, and eventually joins Lenn Kravitz’s band as “Trombone Shorty.”
The audiobook is a musical experience from narrator Dion Graham’s voice to the background music that carries the listener away.
The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
When Ada and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, she feels relief and hope. After all, she’s away from her cruel mother and dismal future. As Ada confidently comes into her own, her future takes an unexpected turn.
A powerful and inspiring tale of courage, listeners will love the novel’s narrator, Jane Entwistle, as she expertly reads this award-winning novel.
Demon Dentist by David Walliams
After Alfie’s last disastrous visit to the dentist, he’s scared to visit the new dentist in town, Dr. Root. When he eventually learns Dr. Root is pulling children’s teeth out and is a tooth witch, he gets help from a social worker and a shop owner.
Read by the writer with various parts voiced by other magnificent voice actors, Demon Dentist is a silly ride of a book. Readers will love listening to Walliams and will be eager to jump into the following books in the series.
Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion by Shannon Stocker
This beautiful biography centers on the story of Evelyn Glennie, a young girl who is diagnosed with hearing loss. With the support of her parents, Evelyn overcomes adversity and becomes a celebrated musician.
Listeners of all ages will be inspired and entranced by Evelyn’s story, which is read by Elle Newlands and is accompanied by instrumentals. Enjoy this audiobook as a read-along with the picture book, or simply enjoy the musicality of the audiobook.
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, I Talk Like a River is a powerful picture book in which a young boy with a stutter describes how words stick in his throat. His father brings him to a river and explains how his words move like the river.
Narrated by Jordan Scott himself, who has a stutter, the words come alive. Set to soft and emotional music, Scott stutters throughout the reading, giving listeners a glimpse into the challenges those with stutters overcome.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
After Tristan’s best friend, Eddie, passes away, he’s sent to stay with his grandparents’ house in Alabama, with the hopes that some time away will be good for him. While there, Gum Baby takes his story journal, which is his last connection to Eddie. As Anansi stories come to life, Tristan punches a hole in the sky and releases a haint that may destroy everything in his world.
Perfect for fans of Rick Riordan’s books, this first book in a series combines African American folklore with action and adventure. The audiobook, narrated by Amir Abdullah, brings the characters to life with poignant voices.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Marc Barnett
Barnett’s creative retelling of this beloved tale promises to have young listeners giggling along. When a grumpy troll stops goats at a bridge and plans out the meals he’ll make with the goats, they trick the troll so they can cross.
This award-winning audiobook is complete with Barnett’s silly voices for each character, music, and sound effects. A short and fun audiobook, children and families alike will adore this version.
Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons
A beautiful picture book about a young boy who attends his family reunion, this gorgeous Caldecott-award-winning book translates into a beautiful audiobook. When Lil Alan frets about not having anything special to share with his family members as part of their tradition, he looks around his family’s land and is inspired by his past generations.
Capturing the warmth of returning to family hugs and memories, Lyons’s words are delivered warmly in narrator Daxton Edwards’s voice. This important story will resonate with readers of all ages.
Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Pierce
Lincoln Pierce’s hilarious tale about a young boy named Max whose unlikely dreams of becoming a knight is a hilarious first installment in the series of the same name. When Max’s uncle is kidnapped by the king, he must band together with a wacky group of companions to try to save the kingdom.
A full cast of narrators turns this hybrid novel into an incredible listening experience. Readers will delight in the fun and will be eager to continue on the adventure by devouring the rest of the series.
Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis
For a fun experience learning an imaginary bug language, pick up Du Iz Tak! The story itself is one of friendship among bugs, and readers will enjoy interpreting the illustrations to determine what the words are saying.
Listeners of the audiobook can read along with the book and are cued by page-turning signals. A full cast of narrators turns this book into an imaginative and enjoyable experience for all listeners!
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Red, an oak tree, has stood tall in the center of town for decades, gladly welcoming the town’s wishes that are tied to her branches each year. When a new family moves into town and hateful words are etched into her bark, Red knows she must do something. But how?
A beautiful and powerful story that has layers of meaning, narrator Nancy Linari’s voice communicates the sincerity of this novel. Listeners of all ages will adore this important and enchanting story.
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
When a family realizes at breakfast they’ve run out of milk, the father heads to the store only to return later with a zany tale of what took him so long.
Read by author Neil Gaiman himself, this silly story comes alive with his voice and his joy in the tale. Perfect for sharing as a family or with a young reader!
We’re Not from Here by Goeff Rodkey
Lan’s family has been chosen to travel to Planet Choom as the first human settlers. When they arrive years later, they learn they are not welcome on the planet, a result of humans ruining Earth and being seen as violent and dangerous. The future of humans rests on Lan’s family’s shoulders, as they work to convince the members of the planet that they are not dangerous.
A compelling novel that has themes of science fiction and prejudice, the audiobook’s narrator Dani Martineck brings the story to life. This award-winning audiobook is sure to catch any listener’s attention and imagination.
Where can I find audiobooks?
There are lots of ways to find and listen to audiobooks. Your public library or child’s school most likely has audiobooks that you can borrow. Audible is also a leading platform that offers a large selection of titles to purchase and listen to.
How can I listen to audiobooks?
In the not-so-distant past audiobooks were played from CDs or audiocassette tapes. These days though, audiobooks are streamed from websites or are downloadable. You can listen to audiobooks from any device by visiting websites or downloading the audio file.
What types of readers will enjoy audiobooks?
Any reader will enjoy audiobooks! They are perfect for traveling in the car, multitasking, or relaxing! Children who are learning to read or are reluctant readers may benefit from listening to audiobooks as they read along with the text.
What narrators of audiobooks should I listen to?
Jim Dale is known for narrating the Harry Potter books and Kate Winslet’s performance of Matilda has garnered rave reviews. For a unique listening experience, try out one of their audiobooks!
Do audiobooks count as reading the book?
While the act of reading may flex different muscles than listening to the audiobook version, listening to the audiobook is just as exciting as reading it. So yes, listening to an audiobook counts as reading the book!