We love listening to audiobooks in the car, especially in the summer. During the school year, I’m often driving one or two kids at a time, so we can’t listen to books without someone getting behind and missing out. Since we’re almost always all together in the summer, we keep one going at all times. There are definite benefits of listening to books in the car:
1. Kids don’t fight as much because they’re distracted
2. It passes the time -especially for long trips
3. It has a calming effect after a crazy day at the pool, park, or zoo
4. They end up reading lots of books over the summer
5. They spend time talking about books together
But my favorite benefit is that they associate books with family time. And that might change their attitude about reading for the rest of their lives. Find a way to listen to books in the car. If you have an audio cable, you can play them from your phone. Use apps like Libby or Hoopla to borrow books from your library. Or, if you have a CD player, head to the library and stock up on audiobooks. We’ve been listening to audiobooks for a long time and we have some favorites to recommend.
Stand Alone Books
Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk
This beautifully-written historical fiction book is written for readers in grades 5 and 6. When The Great Depression hits, Ellie loses everything and she and her family must start a new life living of the land on Echo Mountain. Ellie takes matters into her own hands to help her father after an accident everyone thinks she’s responsible for causing.
The Map Trap by Andrew Clements
We have always loved books by Andrew Clements. They are almost all stand alone stories and I only picked The Map Trap because it’s my personal favorite. However, your family will probably love any of them. Alton Barnes, who loves maps, gets into some trouble in school when the creative maps he makes about students and teachers falls into the wrong hands. You can’t go wrong with this author. His story telling is compelling and also calming to the reader.
Middle School Cool by Maiya Williams
When a new middle school opens in Hoursemouth, New Hampshire, some students decide to enroll. They soon learn that the Kaboom Academy isn’t like any other school they’ve ever attended. It’s not like one I’ve heard of either. This book is really funny and will have everyone in the car laughing -kids and adults.
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
Will Everett is about to take the cross-country maiden voyage on The Boundless -the greatest train ever built. When he ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes a target. This is technically a middle grade book (readers 8-12) but I’d put in on the higher end of that age group.
Like Andrew Clements, you can’t go wrong with Gordon Korman. His books are a great mix of humor and heart. This is the story of when the worst kids in the school are paired with the worst teacher in school. You will love this book.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
This award-winning book puts the reader into the shoes of an 13-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to be reunited with her mother. It’s beautiful and memorable. You’ll love it as much as your kids will.
The Secret School by Avi
Fourteen-year-old Ida Bidson wants to be a teacher, but when her one-room school is forced to close down, she’s not even sure she’ll make it to high school. That’s when her fellow pupils get an idea -what if Ida acts as the teacher? This is such a sweet book.
Books in a Series
Of course these are great books for your new reader, but they’re also fun to listen to. With so many books in the series and the fact that they can easily be taken out of order, this series is a great one for listening to in the summer. Junie gets into some sticky situations, but before long, you’ll find you love her.
A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
Nothing like a good mystery to get everyone in the car quickly. If you have trouble rounding up your kids to go somewhere, simply remind them they’re in the middle of a mystery and they’ll hurry to their seats. My kids always loved this series. They love guessing what happened before the end of the book.
The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne
This series has something for everyone. Kids love an adventure and Jack and Annie take one in every book. The calming voice of the author/narrator feels so comfortable, kids will be drawn in to the wonderful stories.
Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls by Meg Cabot
I have two girls and two boys and all of them loved these books. Don’t assume since the word "girls" is in the title that all your kids won’t enjoy the stories in these books. Allie is kind of an older version of Junie B. She’s flawed and lovable. She’s just trying to figure out life one rule at a time. I think we listen to at least one of these books each summer. They’re such a favorite of ours.
Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I know these are old books, but they are just as enjoyable today as the day they were written. Journey with Laura on her covered wagon into the west again but this time bring your kids along. They’ll love the adventures and strong family ties that keep the Ingalls family together through all the struggles they face.
The Vanderbeekers Series by Karina Yan Glaser
I recently learned about this series from a friend and I’ve read the first two books. There are five Vanderbeeker kids living with their parents in Harlem, each with their own personalities and goals. And you will love every one of them. They sometimes fight, but they always work together to solve a problem that seems insurmountable at first. One reviewer called the series, “Darn near perfect” and I agree. I wanted to move right into their brownstone and eat a chocolate croissant from Casselman’s Bakery. You will too.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
This series was more of a hit with my older kids because it’s a little more difficult to follow than other middle grade books. But it’s very well written and interesting. They also made it into a TV show on Disney+, so that may be another reason to check out the books.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
If you haven’t listened to the audiobooks of Harry Potter, you’re missing out. I’m always surprised when someone says they haven’t listened to them. I guess it’s because I go back to them time and time again because you can’t beat Jim Dale’s narration. You really can’t. He won a grammy for it. Think of all the characters in the series. Jim Dale has a different voice for every single one. It’s incredible. This is my favorite series for listening and I know it’ll be yours too.