The Best Audiobooks for Kids

Young girl wearing headphones
02/16/2021

Listening to stories can give children amazing opportunities for imagination and adventure. Here are the best audiobooks for kids to start their journey.

Whether you’re getting ready to embark on a cross-country road trip with the whole family or just want a new chapter book to enjoy at bedtime with Alexa, each superb story on this list is a great place to start. Each one is a tale of whimsy and adventure brought to life with the help of talented voice actors like Jim Dale, Kate Winslet, Neil Patrick Harris, and more. These imaginative listens—fan favourites, classics, and newcomers alike—are sure to be loved by young listeners. Here are the best audiobooks for kids.

Matilda

Author:
Roald Dahl
Narrator:
Kate Winslet
Length:
4:18
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

A powerful commentary on the relationship between a child and the adults around her, Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a story that hits close to home for many listeners, as it stars a young girl who is misunderstood at home and at school. For any child who has felt small compared to the grown-ups around them, Matilda inspires them to stand up for themselves, speak their minds, and embrace their exceptional uniqueness.

Academy Award winner Kate Winslet dives into every character in this story, perfectly depicting Matilda’s upbeat attitude, the evil brutality of Mrs. Trunchbull, and the nastiness of the Wormwoods. She brings an overtone of warmth and joy to the story that makes it approachable for even the youngest listeners.

The Hobbit

Author:
J. R.R. Tolkien
Narrator:
Rob Inglis
Length:
11:05
Series:
The Lord of the Rings
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

This audiobook launches listeners into Middle Earth, a highly developed fantasy universe known around the world from the Lord of the Rings series. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who enjoys quiet evenings and delicious meals, has his world turned upside-down when a wizard named Gandalf and a troupe of dwarves enter his life and take him on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Hobbit was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, won the award for the New York Herald Tribune’s best juvenile fiction, and is renowned as a true classic in children’s fantasy literature. A precursor to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit audiobook is narrated by Rob Inglis, who engages young listeners with his portrayal of magical characters of all shapes and sizes. He perfectly marries the whimsical nature of The Hobbit’s adventure quest with the darker themes explored later in the series.

Gregor the Overlander: Underland Chronicles, Book 1

Author:
Suzanne Collins
Narrator:
Paul Boehmer
Length:
6:33
Series:
The Underland Chronicles
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

When young Gregor falls through a grate in his laundry room into the darkness of the Underland, he doesn’t find himself in a typical fairy tale. The first book in the New York Times best selling Underland Chronicles, Gregor the Overlander takes listeners on a journey filled with danger, prophecies, and destiny.

The versatile Paul Boehmer, also known for his appearances in the Star Trek universe, narrates Gregor’s story. Perfectly capturing a broad range of characters, from a frail old man to a two-year-old girl, Boehmer crafts a vivid world to ground this imaginative tale. Get ready for bats, spiders, and cockroaches—the creatures of the Underland are waiting.

Magic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8

Author:
Mary Pope Osborne
Narrator:
Mary Pope Osborne
Length:
6:01
Series:
Magic Tree House
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

Parents who grew up reading in the ‘90s will likely remember the time-traveling literary adventures of Jack and Annie of the Magic Tree House series. This audiobook collection not only includes all of the first eight entries in the series, it’s also author-narrated, helping to fully immerse young listeners in the fantasy world of the treehouse.

Each entry sees Jack and Annie take on a new literary adventure as they’re magically transported to the Middle Ages, Ancient Egypt, the Ice Age, and more. Osborne’s uninhibited, bright performance brings true joy and life to each storyline—making for an ideal choice for young bookworms and adventurous listeners alike.

Coraline

Author:
Neil Gaiman
Narrator:
Neil Gaiman
Length:
3:35
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

For kids with a taste for darker stories, Coraline gracefully toes the line between the eerie and the age-appropriate. Winner of both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award in 2003, Neil Gaiman’s spooky tale teaches listeners about the dangers of wishing for too much excitement. Sometimes ordinary is just fine. In fact, it’s exactly what Coraline wishes she could have once she’s catapulted into a twisted alternate reality.

The audiobook is not only voiced by the gleefully grim author himself, but also accompanied by a variety of creepy musical numbers that help ratchet up the sense of impending doom as Coraline struggles to find her way home. Even for those who have heard the story before or have seen the animated film adaptation, this listen is a delightful, wild romp through the darker side of the imagination.

The Henry Huggins Audio Collection

Author:
Beverly Cleary, Tracy Dockray
Narrator:
Neil Patrick Harris, William Roberts
Length:
15:26
Series:
Henry Huggins
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

The Henry Huggins series is more than 50 years old, but remains beloved by children everywhere. Voiced by the renowned actor Neil Patrick Harris (who sharpened his children’s performer chops as Count Olaf in the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events), the adventures of Henry, Ramona, and Ribsy gain renewed life.

Cleary originally created Henry to serve the boys in her library looking for characters they could identify with, but turned out to be such a popular children’s author that she launched entire collections about the supporting female characters as well. Her talent for characterizing children’s thoughts and daily lives shines through in Harris’s narration, which is performed with an incredible, joyfully childish range of emotion.

How to Train Your Dragon

Author:
Cressida Cowell
Narrator:
David Tennant
Length:
3:29
Series:
How to Train Your Dragon
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

How to Train Your Dragon follows the hilarious misadventures of Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless, as they embark on a journey entirely dependent on friendship and teamwork. Young Hiccup must catch and train a dragon to pass his viking clan’s intense initiation ritual, but the dragon he ends up with is quite the unusual character. The story is considerably different from that of the 2010 film adaptation, making it a brand-new experience for listeners who’ve already fallen in love with the animated characters. With exciting music, the occasional dragon growl, and lilting Scottish accents only the talented David Tennant (of Doctor Who and Good Omens fame) could provide, How to Train Your Dragon will have listeners young and old absolutely roaring with delight.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia

Author:
C. S. Lewis
Narrator:
Michael York
Length:
4:21
Series:
The Chronicles of Narnia (Author's Preferred Order)
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

The first in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe begins in a broken England during World War II. C.S. Lewis presents a snow-covered land called Narnia, where the forces of good have been overthrown by the evil White Witch. Inspired by Lewis’s daughter Lucy (who shares a name with a character in the book), the novel is considered one of the greatest children’s books of all time.

Emmy Award nominee Michael York’s lively British accent sets the tone as four siblings work together with a benevolent lion named Aslan to end the evil oppression and bring peace back to Narnia. Listeners with a love of magic will be captivated by the mythical creatures who guide the children along their incredible journey through Narnia.

The House at Pooh Corner: A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics, Volume 2

Author:
A. A. Milne
Narrator:
Peter Dennis
Length:
3:12
Series:
A.A. Milne's Pooh Classics
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

Winnie the Pooh, a charming little bear with a taste for honey, is one of the most well-recognized children’s characters of all time. A powerful narrating cast including Dame Judi Dench and comedy icon Stephen Fry gives voice to the classic characters we’ve known and loved for years. The cast speaks clearly and at a level that is easy to understand for even the youngest listeners, making The House at Pooh Corner a suitable listen for toddlers and small children.

The audiobook is filled with original musical compositions that make the stories even more enchanting for young minds. Whether your little listener is a bouncy Tigger or a thoughtful Owl, the grand adventures in The House at Pooh Corner will leave them begging for more storytime.

The Mystwick School of Musicraft

Author:
Jessica Khoury
Narrator:
Suzy Jackson
Length:
8:18
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

You can never go wrong with a listen featuring a magical school for children, but Jessica Khoury’s take on the trope is unique in its emphasis on a type of magic that also exists in our own world: music. This listen follows friends Amelia, Jai, and Darby as they learn to hone their natural musical ability into powerful enchantments.

Audie-nominated narrator Suzy Jackson is a celebrated performer, but it’s the musical score that really makes this audiobook shine. Audible worked with the NJSO Youth Orchestra to craft four original musical compositions for this audiobook, making it an incredibly special and wonderful listen. Mystwick ultimately inspires listeners of all ages to appreciate the magic of music, as the climax of the story is intensified by a beautiful orchestral performance.

Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Author:
Rebecca Tinker
Narrator:
Kyla Garcia
Length:
4:27
Series:
Carmen Sandiego
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

For years, we’ve been asking, Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? The elusive trench-coated character has been a part of our lives as we’ve tracked her criminal mischief around the world in video games, comic books, and now a Netflix Original series.

Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? follows a woman in a red fedora as she travels the world, capturing criminals and solving mysteries along the way. One of the best audiobooks for young mystery and puzzle lovers, Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? is voiced by the talented Kyla Garcia, who evokes the perfect combination of suspense, excitement, and adventure through her performance. Garcia gives each character a unique accent and tone, leaving listeners wondering if they’re listening to a full-cast performance.

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

Author:
Rick Riordan
Narrator:
Jesse Bernstein
Length:
12:23
Series:
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

When Percy Jackson goes to his usual pre-algebra class, he doesn’t expect his teacher to turn into a savage monster. He also doesn’t expect a minotaur to chase him to a strange summer camp, and he definitely doesn’t expect to find out that he’s the son of Poseidon.

An engaging story for pre-teens and teens, Percy Jackson is the brainchild of Rick Riordan, a #1 New York Times best selling author with a love for Greek mythology. Jesse Bernstein, who performs all of the Percy Jackson audiobooks, brings a new voice to each character in the story, elevating the dialogue and helping listeners distinguish between each character. And kids who race through this story and want more will be happy to know: there are two more equally engaging audiobooks in the trilogy.

The Secret Garden

Author:
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Narrator:
Susie Berneis
Length:
8:30
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

The musical and elegant voice of Josephine Bailey gives new life to this children’s classic, her seamless transitions between characters helping listeners visualize two lonely children as they discover a secret, neglected garden in need of some serious TLC. Bailey’s crisp accent and gentle tone add ambiance to the story’s world and craft an overtone of comfort for listeners.

A truly magical getaway for both the characters and listeners, The Secret Garden preaches the wide-reaching benefits of kindness. Listeners learn the important lesson that a simple act of goodness will find its way back to you and repay you in the most unexpected of ways. The Secret Garden is the perfect audiobook for a bedtime story and will likely have young children asking to listen every night.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread

Author:
Kate DiCamillo
Narrator:
Graeme Malcolm
Length:
3:30
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

When a sensitive little mouse named Despereaux falls in love with a beautiful princess, he must learn to fight for his place in the world. Graeme Malcolm takes listeners on an inspiring journey filled with destiny, wishes, and determination. He combines the three parallel storylines seamlessly, bringing the characters together while giving each one their own unique identity. His pacing and tone distinguish between each subplot, helping listeners navigate the intertwining stories without getting lost.

Stories like The Tale of Despereaux teach young listeners that even the smallest and most unlikely of heroes can still be brave. Perfect for listeners of all ages, the work of Kate DiCamillo contains enriching vocabulary, brilliant use of metaphor, and the classic feel of a fairy tale.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Author:
Jeff Kinney
Narrator:
Ramon De Ocampo
Length:
1:57
Series:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

Never has there been a more accurate interpretation of the pre-teen experience than that of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The firsthand account of Greg Heffley, an average middle-school boy who is just trying to survive puberty, has received the Children’s Choice Book Award (twice), while author Jeff Kinney was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009.

Kinney uses comics to illustrate Greg’s plight as he navigates school challenges, relationships with friends, and his family, and Roman De Ocampo brings these cartoons right off the page with his narration. His comedic performance paints a mental picture that leaves listeners in stitches as Greg encounters the misfortunes of middle school life—like the dreaded Cheese Touch.

Wonder

Author:
R. J. Palacio
Narrator:
Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd
Length:
8:06
Series:
Wonder
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

In a world where school and online bullying are at epidemic-level proportions, Wonder is more poignant and relevant than ever. This listen follows the story of Auggie, a boy with a facial deformity, as he enters the fifth grade in a real school for the first time in his life.

A New York Times best seller, Wonder gives listeners the inspiration to stand out from others and embrace the things that make us unique. With powerful commentary on society’s inability to accept differences, the messages in Wonder apply to listeners of all ages. Narrators Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, and Kate Rudd capture the individual viewpoints of multiple characters in Wonder, giving listeners a sense of warmth and love that only this story could provide.

The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book 1

Author:
Philip Pullman
Narrator:
Philip Pullman, Joanna Wyatt, Rupert Degas, Alison Dowling, Douglas Blackwell, Jill Shilling, Stephen Thorne, Sean Barrett, Garrick Hagon, John O'Connor, Susan Sheridan, Full Cast
Length:
10:39
Series:
His Dark Materials
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

Written by Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass is a long-beloved adventure that has received an abundance of praise since its publication in 1995. A full cast of narrators led by the author himself brings each character to life, providing a diverse range of voices, accents, and tones to round out the storyline.

An orphaned teen named Lyra and her animal familiar, Pan, find themselves in the middle of a political conspiracy. With no one to trust, Lyra must choose between right and wrong, putting her friends and family at risk with every decision she makes. At its climax, The Golden Compass is a nail-biting thriller, reinforcing that things aren’t always as they seem. A unique fantasy without magic (but plenty of supernatural wonder), The Golden Compass puts the ideals of religion, morality, and politics in the spotlight and examines them in a way that young listeners can understand and enjoy.

Eragon: Inheritance, Book 1

Author:
Christopher Paolini
Narrator:
Gerard Doyle
Length:
16:22
Series:
Inheritance Cycle
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

The first title in the Inheritance Cycle series (which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide), Eragon appeals to fantasy lovers of all ages. Eragon thought he was just a poor farm boy, but his true identity was that of a dragon rider, a mysterious figure who bonded with a magical creature to battle evil.

Masterfully performing the perfect narrative for those who have larger-than-life dreams, Gerard Doyle takes listeners on a wild ride filled with uniquely voiced characters, intense battle scenes, and the relationship between a boy and his witty dragon, Saphira. This is also a great story for young aspiring storytellers: author Christopher Paolini drafted Eragon at age 15; when his parents self-published it a year later, it became a New York Times best seller almost immediately.

Holes

Author:
Louis Sachar
Narrator:
Kerry Beyer
Length:
4:30
Series:
Holes Series
Type:
Unabridged Audiobook

Winner of the 1999 Newbery Medal, Louis Sachar’s Holes follows the unlucky Stanley Yelnats as he is shipped off to a juvenile detention centre at Camp Green Lake (hint: no lake in sight) after an unfortunate miscarriage of justice. There, he’ll be forced to follow the mantra of hard work that builds character as he and his fellow campers must dig holes in the dried-up lake as punishment.

With plotlines ranging from family legends to buried treasure, Holes captivates the attention of listeners with lessons in karma, persistence, and integrity. Narrator Kerry Beyer’s innately boyish and enthusiastic nature lends itself perfectly to the plot, helping listeners become immersed in the all-boys work camp Stanley finds himself in.


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