Check out this enormous list of the best audiobooks for families! You won’t regret listening to stories instead of vegging with screens.
We bought our minivan used, so we didn’t have the option of a built-in DVD player. For our first family vacation with 3 kids, we installed a portable DVD player, proud that we had joined the 21st century with our parenting moves.
Only it turned out to be a BAD move.
The kids begged for movies from the first moment they stepped in the van, were quiet for a big while the DVD was on, then were SUPER cranky anytime the movies turned off.
I hated it. To me, the temporary quiet wasn’t enough to override the awful attitude my kids had before/after watching their movies in the van.
Here’s what we did instead
So we dumped the DVD player and started making much better use of our CD player.
Our family is truly lucky to have an aunt who records stories for our kids on CD, so we started with those.
Then we moved to short stories from our favorite radio program (The Vinyl Cafe), Adventures in Odyssey, and eventually to 10-hour long middle grade novels.
My boys are 10, 7, and 5, and we’ve been listening to audio stories for several years now. I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Benefits of listening to audiobooks
- pull our kids into a storyworld and plot
- increase their attention span (because they need to follow along without pictures)
- grow their imaginations
- fall in love with books
Oh, and when we listen to stories, my kids don’t get cranky like they did when they had screen time in the van!
Where to find audiobooks for your family
The best place to find audiobooks for your family is your local library. They might physical audiobooks on CD (our library has 2 full shelves!), or your library probably also has an app like Overdrive or Libby.
If you’re looking for audiobooks for preschoolers, most libraries have a section of picture books that come with a CD. Then you can give the book to your child and have the CD read to them while you drive!
If you don’t have a great library, I highly recommend an Audible.com subscription.
Best Audiobooks for families
So hopefully I’ve convinced you to give this a try! I polled my Instagram audience to see which audiobooks they enjoyed with their kids, and here’s our enormous list of the best audiobooks for families!
1. Best Audiobooks for Preschoolers
- Anything by Robert Munsch. Your kids will be giggling all the way to grandma’s house! These are fairly short, so I recommend trying to find a compilation if possible.
- Anything by Dr. Suess
I know that wasn’t much of a list, but here’s the thing: your preschool can listen to almost anything your elementary kids find fascinating. You DON’T have to get specific books for your preschooler!
My little guy didn’t talk until he was 3 1/2 years old, but that didn’t keep him from listening to and enjoying long involved stories. Hearing good language is actually VERY good for little kids, and is especially important for kids with speech delays.
2. Traditional fiction audiobooks for families
These are old oldies but goodies, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be able to find them at your local library.
- Chronicles of Narnia
- Books by Beverly Cleary (like Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins)
- Charlotte’s Web
- The BFG by Roald Dahl
- The Boxcar Children
- Wind in the Willows
- Trumpet of the Swan
- Stuart Little
- The Little House series
I also recommend this exhaustive post from Modern Mrs. Darcy on the topic!
3. Modern fiction audiobooks
To be honest, our family can get a little bored by the traditional books. If you’re like that too, you’ll want to check out these adventure-packed stories that you AND your kids will love. I’ve included Amazon links to these ones, since your library might not have them (yet).
- The Will Wilder series by Raymond Arroyo
- The Treasure Hunters series by Jim Patterson
- Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
- The Spiderwick Chronicles
- The Vinyl Cafe – these are actually short stories, but they’re all about the same quirky family! Some of these are downright hilarious. Check out the Christmas set here.
- The Windfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
4. Christian fiction audiobooks for families
If you want something with a faith aspect, check out these options. I haven’t listened to them all – most were recommended by my Instagram followers.
- Love Does by Bob Goff. There’s a kids version of this, but the adult ones was totally fine for my kids.
- Little Pilgrim’s Progress
- The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by MJ Thomas
- Adventures in Odyssey – this is the iconic video drama from Focus on the Family. I have listened to these since I was a kid and they just keep getting better and better! I still haven’t heard them all.
- Jonathan Park Adventure Series
- Brinkman Adventures (missionary stories)
- Keys for Kids podcast (also avaiable on iTunes)
- Jesus is Better podcast
- Miss Rory’s Story Emporium podcast (also available on iTunes)
5. Best Podcasts for families
If you struggle to find audiobooks OR they’re just too long for your kids’ attention span, here are some really great podcast options that my kids have all loved.
- Wow in the World
- The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
- The Story Pirates (they take kids stories and turn them into hilarious comedy sketches and songs!)
- What If World
- Stories Podcast
- Brains On! Science podcast for kids
- Forever Ago (by the Brains On! people, this one is about history)
- Smash Boom Best (by the Brains On! people, this one is a hilarious debate show)
Jacqueline Davies the Lemonade War was great. Also anything by Cynthia Lord, Half a Chance, Touch Blue, a Handful of Stars…
Christie Thomas says
These are some great suggestions, thank you! I’ll definitely look into them.