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25+ Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

There is absolutely no question that audiobooks keep us sane in the car, whether we’re traveling across town or across the country. And if you’re looking for easy ways to survive your own family road trip, these great audiobooks are the answer!

Two kids happily sitting in the backseat of a car.
Audio books will save your road trip!

I think the trick to finding the best audiobooks for family road trips is to look for stories with a good plotI and an outstanding narrator.

This is no easy feat. We’ve fallen in love with all kinds of stories that were turned into humdrum audiobooks by boring, monotone narrators. Definitely not a great scenario when you’re trying to keep your eyes open on a marathon of a road trip.

As our kids have gotten older, our audiobook selections have mingled with a nice collection of podcasts and music playlists, but there’s still nothing like a good story to make the hours go by more quickly!

The Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

three kids in the backseat of a car looking at a map.

The audiobooks listed below are some of our very favorites for long drives, but keep in mind that we have boys who lean heavily toward fantasy and other-worldly adventures.

The ages listed below the book titles are a bit arbitrary, as books that are right for some might be too difficult or scary for others. For example, we started listening to the Harry Potter series when the kids were five or so, but after the third book, we put them on hold until they were older. We know plenty of families that started their kids on these books as toddlers, and many others that introduced the books to their kids when they were in middle school. Use your best judgment.

We try out new audiobooks for the whole family on every road trip, so I will try to keep this list updated as we discover new favorites.

The audiobooks in our list are either read by a full cast of actors or incredible narrators — guaranteed to keep your kids off their devices and your driver from falling asleep! We have no patience for boring narrators!

A Note on Audible for Road Trips

We use our public library and Audible for our road trip listening pleasure. For a monthly fee, you can download your favorite audiobooks to listen to anywhere. What makes it so great for road trips is that you have a whole library with you and you can download your favorites before your trip.

If you’re willing to shell out a bit each month, the audiobooks you download are yours forever, even if you cancel your subscription. You can also keep your Audible books in your library without downloading them on your device so they take up less space. 

Road Trip Audiobooks for All Ages 

Four kids sitting in back of the family car on a family road trip.

The following audiobooks for family road trips are perfect for everyone, and great when you’re traveling with a wide range of ages in your vehicle.

Rabbit Ears Entertainment Stories

ir?t=backr 20&l=li2&o=1&a=0739336509Rabbit Ears started publishing audiobooks on cassette in the 1980s. They featured popular fairytales and other classics for kids read by celebrities and set to original music. We love just about every story published by Rabbit Ears, and there are a lot to choose from.

One of our favorite is Rip Van Winkle, read by Anjelica Huston. The haunting fiddle music is a perfect fit — composed and played by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.

Here are a few more beautiful fairy tales from Rabbit Ears  — classic children’s stories brought to life by the world’s most respected narrators and musicians:

Classical Kids

Our adult kids love classical music, and we owe that, in part, to the Classical Kids series that played on repeat during long road trips. There are four stories in the series, each touching upon the life of a famous composer.

The stories are riveting. There is a full cast of narrators, and it is all set to beautiful music. Our favorite is Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, but I recommend each and every one — Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Mozart’s Magic Fantasy, and Beethoven Lives Upstairs, which was made into a full-length movie.

The Roald Dahl Audio Collection Narrated by the Author

This delightful collection of audiobooks features Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James & the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Enormous Crocodile & The Magic Finger. Roald Dahl narrates these subversively hilarious stories himself and they are a delight for all ages. I should mention here that these are abridged versions of the stories, but our young kiddos loved them even more than the originals.

Audiobooks for Family Road Trips (Elementary School)

The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon and narrated by Tony Shalhoub (ages 6-9): This is a classic story (1960) of an immigrant family and an immigrant cricket who meet in the subway station in Times Square.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and narrated by Tim Curry (or Lemony Snicket): There are 13 books in this series, so so if you’re embarking on a huge road trip, this might be the perfect series for you. This unique multi-voice recording brings the story to life in ways that are hard to describe, but our kids devoured these stories.

The series follows the dreadful misadventures of the three Baudelaire children after their parents mysteriously perish in a house fire. The kids are shuffled between relatives, ending up with evil Count Olaf who tThis lands them in the care of various distant relatives, the most notorious of which being the villainous Count Olaf, who tries desperately to get his hands on the family fortune.

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis: This well-loved children’s story of magic, wardrobes, and talking animals is a timeless classic for the whole family, made famous by the first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We loved the unabridged, narrated editions and the full-cast productions by BBC Radio. The complete audio collection on audible includes all seven titles narrated by well-known actors.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and narrated by Eden Riegel – A botched spell leaves Ella in quite a predicament. Thanks to an incompetent fairy, she must follow every command that is given to her.

The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper and narrated by Alex Jennings – Another series that includes modern children and ancient magic. I love how Susan Cooper entwines folktales, legends, and myths to create a compelling read. We were totally on the edge of our seats for this whole series, and all of them are available on Audible, including Over Sea Under Stone, The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King, and Silver on the Tree.

ir?t=backr 20&l=li2&o=1&a=B007Z757R2 Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink and narrated by Roslyn Alexander: Caddie Woodlawn books are often compared to the Little House books. While we love them both, Caddie Woodlawn kept us laughing down the highway. She is fiery and inquisitive, and the books are a lighthearted way to learn about pioneer life.

The Harry Potter books, books 1 – 3, by J. K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale: These are the books of my kids’ generation. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we have listened to these stories hundreds of times. They are entwined intricately with the lives of my children, who aren’t really children anymore.

The Boggart by Susan Cooper and narrated by David RintoulA delightful monster story? Seriously, this book is full of fun twists and turns about a ghost (boggart) who hitches a ride home with a family from his castle in Scotland. If you enjoy it, check out the sequel, The Boggart and the Monster.

ir?t=backr 20&l=li2&o=1&a=B0001I1L1I The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo and narrated by Graeme Malcolm: Graeme Malcom’s voice is the first thing that drew us to The Tale of Desperaux, followed by an enthralling story, intriguing dialogue, and lovable characters. If you’ve seen the movie, but haven’t read or heard the book, you are definitely doing yourself a disservice. The story centers around a misfit of a mouse named Desperaux, his love for a princess named Pea, and a daring quest. It’s a magical story!

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and narrated by Cherry Jones:  This is DiCamillo’s first novel, and it was a 2001 Newbery Honor Book. The story follows 10-year-old Opal and her relationship with a scraggly dog named Winn Dixie. It’s a heartfelt story about love and loss, but never cheesy, as these books can sometimes be. And come on, sometimes we all need a good dog story!

The Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips: Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults (10+)

ir?t=backr 20&l=li2&o=1&a=B00022FDGM The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer and narrated by Nathaniel Parker– The Artemis Fowl books are full of crazy adventures featuring a subversive teenage prodigy named Artemis, who gets into trouble with elves, fairies, and sprites, not to mention demons and goblins. There are fantastical worlds, villainous creatures, and a plot that keeps everyone guessing. I recommend this one for those late-night drives when you just can’t seem to stay awake. Artemis Fowl is fast-paced, and it won’t take long for you to fall in love with the characters, both human and otherworldly.

The Harry Potter Series, books 4-7, by J.K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale: I’ve included the second half of the Harry Potter Series here because they’ve got more mature themes than the first three books. They take on a more serious tone, and there is death, treachery, and a bit of cursing. We love them all the same, but recommend them for kids over the age of 10.

ir?t=backr 20&l=li2&o=1&a=0563529288 His Dark Materials Series by Phillip Pullman and narrated by a full cast – I just finished listening to this (again) and can say without hesitation that you do not need kids in the car to enjoy this. Lyra, the protagonist, is a timeless and unique heroine — she is a spunky, brave, innocent, and loving young girl, and the story centers around epic adventures to save the world without realizing it. There are three books in the original trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.

The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques and narrated by Brian Jacques and a full cast – Whoever thought we would fall in love with warrior rodents? There are a lot of books in this series, and all of them feature the beloved animals of Redwall Abbey. The dramatization is lively, with lots of singing and plenty of drama. It’s another good choice for late-night driving. The actors are skilled; the accents are decidedly British, and the characters are so much fun.

These are our favorite audiobooks for family road trips, and yes, most of them are available on Audible.  Do you have a favorite audiobook for road trips? I’d love to add some to our listening list for our next big adventure.

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two kids sit in the back of a car looking at a map. One is wearing headphones. Caption reads: Audiobooks will save your road trip. Timeless tales for kids of all ages
Tara Schatz sits with her two dogs, Gatsby and Flynn.

Tara is a freelance writer and travel blogger with a passion for outdoor adventures. She is the co-author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont and currently blogs at Back Road Ramblers and Vermont Explored, where she shares travel tips, adventure destinations, and vacation ideas for the wanderer in everyone.