The Ultimate Guide to the Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

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Looking for a better, productive way to combat boredom without having to snooze the alarm during family road trips? Today, we introduce you to audiobooks! If you’re unfamiliar with audiobooks, they’re simply audio recordings of books read out loud by a narrator.

Listening to audiobooks during a long trip is an excellent alternative to iPads, tablets, and other screens. Traveling with kids? Even better! You can choose from the library of captivating audiobooks available online or our list of the best audiobooks for family road trips below. Our list consists of carefully picked books suitable for different age brackets, including young children (3-7), tweens (8-12), and teens (13-17).

The best part of listening to audiobooks is it’s something the whole family can enjoy, even the driver! It’s a hands-free activity that doesn’t cause big distractions and a great way for everyone to have a screen time break.

Read on for more tips about using great audiobooks for family road trips.

happy little girl on a car driver's seat

Choosing the Right Audiobooks for Your Family

Choosing the right books during family road trips is important so everyone can have an enjoyable shared experience. It’s a matter of picking the right one depending on shared preferences and interests.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right audiobook for your family:

  • Age range – Choose audiobooks that are age-appropriate for everyone on the trip. If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to exclude audiobooks that have mature language and themes. Children may prefer picture book adaptations like “Winnie the Pooh” or a children’s novel like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Meanwhile, children aged 8 to 12  may lean more towards fantasy and adventure books like “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” or “The Chronicles of Narnia.” For teens, you can choose YA or Young Adult literature like “The Hunger Games.

  • Interests – Shared interests also play a role in picking the right audiobook. Does the family enjoy certain book genres like mystery, fantasy, or classics? You can mix the genres to have various choices catering to everyone’s moods.

  • Listening preferences – We all have different listening preferences. Some prefer a narrator with a relaxing and calming voice. While others may enjoy audiobooks with sound effects and expressive narrators. Listen to samples to ensure everyone finds the narrator engaging.

  • Trip length – Match the duration of your trip to the length of the audiobook you choose. Pick short stories for short trips and long narratives for extended journeys. This way, no one is left on a cliffhanger when you arrive at your destination while the audiobook has yet to reach its resolution.

Tips for Picking Audiobooks

  • Choose interactive audiobooks that provide an immersive listening experience for everyone. Sound effects, background music, and different character voices can increase engagement and encourage participation. This is ideal for children during road trips because it enhances their listening skills and promotes imagination.

  • Read reviews beforehand and choose audiobooks that have positive ratings and good comments.

  • Involve everyone in picking the audiobooks. Give everyone a chance to pick the audiobook they like so they’re more likely to engage and create conversations during the trip.

  • Be flexible. When someone is not enjoying listening to an audiobook you’re currently playing, be open to switching to something else. This allows everyone to enjoy listening and creates a beautiful bonding moment with the family.

The Magic of a Narrator’s Voice and How They Make a Difference

Narrators are responsible for bringing life to audio books. Their performance can either make or break what makes an audiobook engaging and interesting. Most of the time, audiobooks are narrated by professional voice actors. But, there are instances where our favorite Hollywood celebrities are invited to narrate audiobooks, from timeless classics to new releases.

Celebrity narrators can reach wider audiences and create greater impact due to their influence. They can attract attention and increase audiobook sales, especially for new releases or lesser-known authors. Famous voices can also increase engagement by establishing an emotional connection to the audience.

Some listeners can resonate more with the work of their favorite celebrities, which leaves a more meaningful and long-lasting impact on the audience. Lastly, well-respected actors or narrators can lend credibility to the story, especially non-fiction or historical accounts, making listeners feel more invested in the information.

While celebrities do bring a certain je ne sais quoi in audiobooks, you can’t forget about the narrators known for being the master of their craft. These voices are responsible for captivating their audiences through award-winning audio performances. Their dedication to their craft earned them their place in the Narrator Hall of Fame.

Preparing for Your Road Trip Listening Experience

Hitting the open road with a good audiobook can be pure magic. But before you embark on your literary journey, a little preparation can go a long way in boosting your enjoyment.

TIP: Click here to read our article featuring 5 Car Essentials for Road Trips in Malaysia

Make your family road trip listening experience seamless with these helpful tips:

  • Choose the right audiobook using the tips mentioned above.

  • Create playlists for different moods and travel times. Label audiobooks clearly for easy access.

  • Avoid relying on unreliable internet on the road. Pre-download all audiobooks to your device before you leave.

  • Download from legal audiobook sources like OverDrive and LibriVox. Or, if you have Spotify Premium, you can download audiobooks and listen to them offline. Our favorite platform is Audible, for which we’ll provide a guide further down the page. 

  • Test your audio system before hitting the road. Ensure all speakers are working and the sound quality is good for everyone.

  • Invest in comfort essentials like noise-canceling headphones, car chargers, and phone mounts to enhance your experience.

  • Pack portable chargers and extra batteries for your devices.

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Favorite Audiobooks For Younger Children (Ages 3-7)

“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

Join Max as he sets off on a wild adventure to the land of the Wild Things, where he becomes their king. This timeless tale explores themes of anger, imagination, and the comfort of home.

“The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson

A clever mouse uses its wits to outsmart predators in the deep, dark wood, inventing a monster called the Gruffalo… only to meet one! A story of quick thinking and the power of intelligence over strength.

“Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne

Experience the whimsical adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. This collection of stories is filled with friendship, humor, and simple joys.

“Magic Tree House Collection” by Mary Pope Osborne

Siblings Jack and Annie discover a tree house filled with books that transport them through time and space. Each book offers a thrilling adventure, blending history, science, and magic.

“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White

This beautiful story follows the friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. With themes of friendship, life, and death, it teaches the value of compassion and the power of words.

“Matilda” by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a brilliant and sensitive child, but her parents are too absorbed in their own lives to notice her. When Matilda starts school, she discovers she has a special power and uses it to stand up to bullies, including the formidable headmistress, Miss Trunchbull.

“The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)” by Roald Dahl

Sophie meets the Big Friendly Giant one night, and they embark on an adventure to capture dreams and save the world from the other, not-so-friendly giants. A story of friendship and courage.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl

Charlie Bucket wins a golden ticket to tour Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory, embarking on a journey filled with fantastical inventions, Oompa-Loompas, and the whimsy of Wonka himself.

“Stuart Little” by E.B. White

Stuart Little, a mouse born to a human family, embarks on a series of adventures. His size might be small, but his spirit is huge, proving that great heroes can come in small packages.

“The Tale of Despereaux” by Kate DiCamillo

This is the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who loves music and reading, and his quest to save a human princess. A tale of bravery, forgiveness, and following your heart.

“James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl

After James Henry Trotter accidentally drops magic crystals by an old peach tree, he embarks on a journey inside a giant peach with a group of insect friends, discovering a world of adventure.

“Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter

The mischievous Peter Rabbit sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden, leading to a chase and nearly getting caught. A classic tale of curiosity, adventure, and the importance of listening to warnings.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl

Mr. Fox is smart, clever, and resourceful. In order to feed his family, he makes nightly visits to farms owned by three wicked farmers. An exhilarating story about outwitting adversaries and the importance of family.

“Grimm’s Fairy Tales” by The Brothers Grimm

A collection of German fairy tales that range from the well-known stories of “Cinderella” and “Snow White” to lesser-known tales, all rich in fantasy, morality, and folklore.

Best Audiobooks For Tweens (Ages 8-12)

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling

Discover the magical world of Harry Potter as he learns he is a wizard on his 11th birthday. Join Harry as he attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, makes friends, and uncovers mysteries.

“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson discovers he’s a demigod, the son of Poseidon, and is accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt. Embark on a journey across the United States to catch the real thief and prevent a war among the gods.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

Four siblings stumble upon a magical wardrobe that leads them to the land of Narnia, under the evil White Witch’s spell. Together with Aslan, the lion, they embark on a quest to free Narnia.

“The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart

Four gifted children are recruited by Mr. Benedict to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where they must solve puzzles and stop a global crisis.

“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

Auggie Pullman, born with facial differences, attends public school for the first time and strives to show his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances.

“The 39 Clues, Book 1: The Maze of Bones” by Rick Riordan

Siblings Amy and Dan Cahill begin a dangerous race against their relatives to uncover the 39 clues that lead to an ultimate power. A thrilling blend of history, mystery, and adventure.

“The Bad Beginning, A Multi-Voice Recording: A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket

Follow the Baudelaire orphans as they navigate a series of unfortunate events, starting with the loss of their parents and their guardianship by the villainous Count Olaf.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

In a dystopian future, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death. A gripping story of survival, tyranny, and resistance.

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

In a society divided into factions based on virtues, Tris Prior discovers she’s Divergent and doesn’t fit into any one group. When she uncovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out why being Divergent is so dangerous.

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old cancer patient, meets and falls in love with Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee. A heart-wrenching novel about health, love, and loss.

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

Narrated by Death, it tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl living in Nazi Germany, who steals books and shares them with her neighbors and the Jewish man hiding in her basement.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han

Lara Jean’s private letters to her past crushes are accidentally sent out, throwing her love life into chaos. A sweet story of young love and the complexities of growing up.

“Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard” by Rick Riordan

After his death, Magnus Chase discovers he’s the son of a Norse god and must search for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years to prevent Ragnarok.

Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips: Notable Authors and Whole Series 

  • Roald Dahl Collection: Celebrate the genius of Roald Dahl with his timeless tales that continue to enchant and entertain. From the magical chocolate factory in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to the giant adventures in “The BFG” and the extraordinary intelligence of “Matilda“, Dahl’s stories ignite the imagination with a blend of whimsy, adventure, and unique characters.

  • Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling: Follow the journey of Harry Potter, a young wizard discovering his magical heritage and attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. From the first book to the final book, Harry and his friends face challenges, uncover dark secrets, and battle the evil Lord Voldemort, with each book exploring themes of friendship, bravery, and the power of good over evil.

  • Rick Riordan’s Mythological Adventures: Dive into the mythological worlds created by Rick Riordan, featuring modern-day demigods and their quests. From “Percy Jackson & The Olympians” exploring Greek mythology to “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard” delving into Norse myths, Riordan’s entire series is packed with adventure, humor, and lessons on friendship and courage.

  • The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi: Discover the hidden world of faeries with the Grace children in “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” When they move into the decrepit Spiderwick Estate, they find a magical world teeming with creatures both wonderful and dangerous. This great series is a gateway to imagination and the unseen world around us.

  • The Maze Runner series by James Dashner: Wake up with Thomas in a lift, remembering nothing but his name, and join him as he navigates the mysterious and deadly Maze with a group of boys who have built a community in the Glade. This dystopian series is a thrilling tale of survival, mystery, and the human spirit’s resilience.

A Quick Guide to Using Audible for Family Audiobooks for Road Trips

Introduction to Audible

Audible, an Amazon company, is one of the leading platforms for audiobooks, offering a vast collection of titles across various genres suitable for the whole family. From captivating children’s books to intriguing novels for adults, Audible provides a convenient way to keep the family entertained during a long road trip.

Audible Membership Plans

  • Audible Plus: This plan offers unlimited listening to the Plus Catalog, which includes thousands of audiobooks, original content, and podcasts. It’s ideal for avid listeners who enjoy exploring various titles.

  • Audible Premium Plus: Premium Plus members get all the benefits of Audible Plus, along with a monthly credit to purchase any title in the premium selection, which they can keep forever. This plan is perfect for those looking to build a personal audiobook library.

  • Family Sharing with Amazon Household: Audible allows members to share their audiobook library with other members of their Amazon Household, making it easier for all family members to enjoy a variety of stories without purchasing multiple memberships.

Free Trial Offer

Audible offers a 30-day free trial for new users, which includes a free audiobook credit for any premium selection title. This is a fantastic way to try out the service and select an audiobook for your road trip at no cost. If the service doesn’t meet your needs, you can cancel before the trial ends without any charge.

How to Use Audible

  1. Sign Up or Log In: Use your Amazon account to sign up for Audible or log in.

  2. Choose a Membership Plan: Select the membership plan that best fits your family’s listening habits.

  3. Browse and Select Audiobooks: Explore Audible’s extensive catalog to find audiobooks that match your family’s interests. Use the free credit to get your first audiobook for free.

  4. Download the Audible App: Install the Audible app on your smartphone, tablet, or another device for easy listening. The app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows platforms.

  5. Download Audiobooks for Offline Listening: Ensure uninterrupted listening during your road trip by downloading audiobooks to your device in advance.

  6. Enjoy Listening: Play your selected audiobooks through your device’s speakers or connect to your car’s audio system using Bluetooth or an AUX cable for a shared listening experience.

Audible provides a flexible and convenient way for families to access a broad selection of audiobooks, making it an excellent companion for road trips. With the option to try it out through a free trial and a variety of plans to suit different listening preferences, Audible can help transform travel time into an enjoyable adventure in storytelling for the entire family.

Final Words about the Best Audiobooks for a Family Road Trip

Audiobooks serve as a refreshing alternative to screens, offering an immersive experience that captivates listeners of all ages. Traveling with family while listening to audiobooks can be an enriching experience and strengthen familial bonds. It’s one reason why selecting the best family audiobooks for road trips is important, so everyone can engage.

Whether going on a short trip or traveling long distances, we encourage you to explore and discover beautiful stories as a family. From thrilling adventures to heartwarming classics, the vast array of audiobooks ensures something for everyone, regardless of age or taste.

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So prepare your perfect audiobook playlists, get ready to embrace the world of storytelling through sound, and let the magic of audiobooks guide you on a voyage of discovery and imagination.

Happy listening!

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Top Audiobooks for Epic Family Road Trip Adventures!
About Marlieke Kemp-Janssen:

Marlieke is the mom of a four-year-old girl and, together with daddy, they love living in and exploring Kuala Lumpur. As well as being the founder of Kuala Lumpur with Kids, Marlieke is a digital marketing consultant who has helped small businesses grow through her company Aureum Hospitality Advisers.

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