Hit the Road in Harmony: Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

A little girl giving a thumbs up in a car seat enjoying family road trips with great audiobooks.

Whether you’re driving across town or criss-crossing the country, audiobooks can help alleviate the boredom of being in a car too long. Discover these top picks for the best audiobooks for family road trips.

A recent survey reveals that almost 39% of adults are gearing up for a road trip that exceeds 250 miles this summer. So, you’re in good company! If you’ve ever been on a road trip with your kids, you know that they can start to get antsy the minute you pull out of your driveway.

Parents need a good strategy for keeping everyone happy on a family road trip to prevent it from becoming a doomed voyage. Listening to audiobooks that both kids and adults enjoy is a great way to alleviate tedium and, best of all, create a shared family experience when played out loud.

What follows is a curated list of road trip audiobooks everyone can enjoy. Each audiobook listed contains the title, author, summary, length, and the minimum age for each book. Please note that the minimum suggested ages are difficult to find for audio books. Some of the recommended ages may be related to reading levels rather than “listening levels.” Amazon links have been included so that parents can do additional research.

Ready to dive in? We’ll kick things off with timeless children’s classics before moving on to fresh, modern picks.

Best audiobooks for family road trips.


What's Your Favorite Family-Friendly Audiobook?

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Audiobooks of Children’s Classics

These handpicked classics will not only take adults on a nostalgic journey but also introduce the younger generation to stories that have stood the test of time.

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

Length: 4 hours, 12 minutes
Ages: 7+

Kicking off this list of books to listen to on road trips is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Although it’s the second book in C. S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia series, it’s a good one to introduce your kids to this magical world. Your kids will be spellbound by the escapades of the Pevensie siblings as they venture through the magical wardrobe into Narnia.

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) by Roald Dahl

Length: 4 hours, 25 minutes
Ages: 7+

Sophie is lucky that the giant who carried her off in the middle of the night is warm and jumbly, rather than scary and hungry for children. And when she hears of a nefarious plot being hatched by the frightening kind of giants, she enlists the BFG to help her stop it. With Roald Dahl’s whimsical vocabulary, The BFG promises belly laughs for everyone in the car.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Length: 3 hours, 18 minutes
Ages: 6+

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is another audio book by Roald Dahl that everyone in the car can enjoy. Follow the adventures of Charlie Bucket as he tours Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory, a place full of Oompa-Loompas and a chocolate river. Will Charlie make it all the way through, or suffer a strange fate like his other tour companions?

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Length: 10 hours, 25 minutes
Ages: 10+

Full of dragons, gold, an unlikely hero, and an epic battle of good against evil, The Hobbit is a timeless story that has been captivating readers of all ages for decades. A fantasy this good and that’s stood the test of time is a perfect audiobook for a family road trip.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Length: 2 hours, 17 minutes
Ages: 5+

It’s hard to go wrong with Beverly Cleary when you have younger kids in the car. The Mouse and the Motorcycle follows Ralph the mouse’s adventures on a toy motorcycle. And at just over two hours, it’s a great choice for shorter attention spans.

Stuart Little by E. B. White

Length: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Ages: 5+

Stuart Little is another children’s classic starring a mouse, and also appropriate for younger kids. Stuart the mouse has big goals for his life, but first he wants to find a little bird he befriended.  The whole family will enjoy Stuart’s adventures as he sets off in his miniature toy car.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Length: 6 hours, 44 minutes
Ages: 8+

While you’re on your journey, listen to a completely different kind of adventure. Treasure Island has been captivating readers for 140 years. Listen along as young Jim Hawkins embarks on an adventure to find hidden treasure on Treasure Island!

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Length: 2 hours, 33 minutes
Ages: 8+

Kids with younger siblings will be able to relate to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. In Peter Hatcher’s eyes, his two-year-old brother, Fudge, is a terror that gets away with everything. When Peter finally has enough, he sets out to get more attention from his parents. Will he succeed? Listen to find out!

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes
Ages: 6+

The Chocolate Touch is a twist on the King Midas story, and has been regaling kids since 1952. Everything turns to chocolate when touched by young John Midas’s lips. He’s about to find out if it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. This audiobook is appropriate for younger kids in both content and length.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Length: 6 hours, 59 minutes
Ages: 9+

Some of the best road trip audiobooks to listen to are mysteries. A good mystery will engage the entire family and spark conversation (and maybe a little friendly competition). Here’s the premise of The Westing Game: When wealthy, game-loving Samuel Westing dies, sixteen people gather for the reading of his will. He states in the will that one of the sixteen killed him, and that the person who figures out the identity of the killer will inherit his fortune. Lots of puzzle solving ensues.

Newer Children’s Books to Listen to on Car Trips

If classic children’s books aren’t your family’s thing (they aren’t for everyone), there are plenty of newer, family-friendly audiobooks to choose from, including the following:

Holes by Louis Sachar

Length: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Ages: 9+

Young Stanley Yelnats is unjustly sent to a juvenile detention center, where he and his fellow inmates spend their days digging holes – each one five feet deep and five feet long. It’s clear the warden is using the boys to search for something, but what is it? The New York Times called Holes, “A smart jigsaw puzzle of a novel.”

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

Length: 8 hours, 18 minutes
Ages: 7+

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in J. K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter series, and it’s sure to entertain kids on a long car trip. In this novel, Harry learns he’s a wizard and is introduced to the magical world of Hogwarts. If your young travelers enjoy this audiobook, there are plenty more in the series to listen to!

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Crowell

Length: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Ages: 6+

The movie was good, so the book must be even better, right? In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III must catch and train a dragon in order to pass his Viking tribe’s initiation test. This one is great for younger kids.  Bonus: it’s part of a series.

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

Length: 5 hours, 11 minutes
Ages: 8+

The Maze of Bones introduces the premise for The 39 Clues book series. Amy and Dan Cahill unexpectedly learn something that thrusts them into a dangerous race: their family is one of the most powerful in the world, and that power is rooted in 39 clues that are hidden around the globe. There are 12 books in this series for many more hours of listening enjoyment.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Length: 13 hours, 17 minutes
Ages: 9+

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them.” So begins The Mysterious Benedict Society. Sounds like a fun book to listen to on a family road trip!

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1 by Rick Riordan

Length: 10 hours, 2 minutes
Ages: 9+

The Lightning Thief is the first book in the highly popular Percy Jackson series, and is bound to be a hit with everyone in the car. Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is a busy guy. One of the teachers at his boarding school turned into a monster and tried to kill him, a minotaur chased him to summer camp, and now Zeus (yes, that Zeus) is angry with Percy because he thinks he stole his lightning bolt! Plenty of adventures in this audiobook!

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Length: 15 hours, 7 minutes
Ages: 9+

Harry, who’s mourning the death of his wife, seeks solitude in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There, he meets Oriana and her mother, Amanda. Harry and Oriana bond over a mysterious book and “embark on a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wild dream—and ultimately open Harry’s heart to new life.” Although Amazon recommends Harry’s Trees for ages 9+, it may be more appropriate for teens due to its focus on recovering from grief.

Sage Advice: For a deeper dive into ‘Harry’s Trees,’ check out this insightful review.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: The Wingfeather Saga, Book 1 by Andrew Peterson

Length: 8 hours, 19 minutes
Ages: 8+

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is an epic adventure tale, currently ranked #1 on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Children’s Christian Action & Adventure Fiction list. When the evil Fangs of Dang threaten their peaceful way of life, three young siblings must draw on all their skills and resources to fend them off. 

“Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is a tale children of all ages will cherish and families can listen to together.”
— Amazon

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs is one of the best family audiobooks for road trips.
Photo Credit: Amazon

Spy School: Spy School Series, Book 1 by Stuart Gibbs

Length: 6 hours, 1 minute
Ages: 9+

When middle-schooler Ben Ripley is accepted to an elite, science-focused magnet school, he’s not too surprised. But he’s amazed and delighted to learn that his new school is run by the CIA to train young spies – Ben’s dream job!

“And through a series of hilarious misadventures, Ben realizes he might actually be a halfway decent spy…if he can survive all the attempts being made on his life!”
— Amazon

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

Length: 10 hours, 14 minutes
Ages: 6+

York: The Shadow Cipher is an alternative history adventure “about three kids who try to solve the greatest mystery of the modern world: a puzzle and treasure hunt laid into the very streets and buildings of New York City.” (Source: Amazon). It’s an exciting race against time as our young heroes try to solve the mysterious cipher before it’s too late.

Audiobooks for Younger Children

As you may have noticed, the above list of family road trip audiobooks is geared towards elementary school kids and older. However, never fear, there are plenty of options for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners. Your best bet is to find a collection of short stories, such as the following:

The Collected Stories of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Length: 4 hours, 27 minutes

Kids will enjoy getting to know the residents of the Hundred Acre Forest. Bonus: Judi Dench is one of the narrators!

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

Length: 5 hours, 51 minutes

Containing 23 classic tales by Beatrix Potter, this highly rated audiobook is perfect for young children. Introduce your children to characters such as Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle for hours of entertainment and a more pleasant family car trip.

Frog and Toad Audio Collection by Arnold Lobel

Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

This audio collection includes four stories about Frog and Toad, “read with humor and charm by award-winning author Arnold Lobel.” (Source: Amazon)

How to Access Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

You’ve got a smorgasbord of options for snagging family-friendly audiobooks for road trips. Just be sure to load up your go-to device well in advance to avoid last-minute hiccups.

Amazon Audible Subscription

If you don’t already have an Amazon Audible subscription, you might consider getting at least the free month trial for your trip. A Premium Plus Membership includes a credit each month good for purchasing one audiobook, plus access to a large catalog of books you can listen to for free including The Velveteen Rabbit, The Secret Garden, and Peter Pan.

Public Libraries

Public libraries are another excellent way to obtain children’s audiobooks at no cost. Many libraries offer a wide range of popular titles, including Maze of Bones, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and many other recommendations on this list available.

Sage Advice: To ensure the title you want is available, visit your library’s online catalog a couple of weeks before your trip and place the audiobook on hold.

Other Free Ways to Access Audiobooks

Don’t have a library card? No problem! There are other free online services that offer access to audiobooks for your family road trip, including:

Although these services only offer a limited selection, they are able to provide free audio versions of children’s classics that are already in the public domain. This means that they are older books without copyright infringements including: 

Regardless of where your journey takes you or how long you’ll be in the car, audiobooks are a great way to relieve road trip boredom and create a shared experience with your kids. 

What are Your Favorite Audiobooks for Kids?

What are your favorite books to enjoy on family road trips? Do you have a great recommendation that’s missing from this list? Share your tips via the comments section below.

This article originally apeared on Book Thoughts from Bed.

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2 thoughts on “Hit the Road in Harmony: Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips”

  1. Audiobooks are such a great way to pass the time on long car rides! Loved these tips and all your recommendations. Thank you!

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