Finally, the vacation you’ve been waiting for arrives. You’ve packed for the family, boarded the pets and filled the tank with gas. And…after the first hour, the kids are bored. Games of ‘I Spy’ or state license plate counting can kill time for a while…but then what?
Enter the audiobook! Nowadays, audiobooks can be purchased on any device through Audible or Kindle, downloaded from your local library, or played on a cd player in the car.
The benefits of audiobooks are many. “Audiobooks provide a great opportunity to extend the learning process while on road trips. It also creates a powerful opportunity for the whole family to engage in the experience,” says Byron Garrett, Chairman of the National Family Engagement Alliance. “For example, you can all have a discussion about various passages within the book as they are read or you could even try a flash vocabulary quiz.” Audiobooks require kids to focus on the actual content and listen intently to keep track of the story line. That develops and enhances their cognitive skills, says Garrett.
What’s wrong with a regular book in the car? Nothing, per se…but it’s much less of an interactive, family experience. Besides, reading in a car can result in headaches and nausea for many.
Here is our list of the best audiobooks for every stage.
PRE-K TO GRADE 1
1. If You Give a Pig a Pancake CD (Audiobook CD) by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
This engaging example of cause and effect is written especially for little ones. Through the adventures of pig (and moose and mouse in subsequent versions, this busy day will entertain both of you. As a mom, I always thought these books reminded me of a typical day with a preschooler! (Scholastic, $5.00)
2. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (Book plus CD) by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
No matter the situation, Pete the Cat takes it all in stride, singing a catchy tune and sometimes, learning some basic math along the way. A teacher favorite, Pete the Cat stories will be one of your child’s new favorites too. (Scholastic, $7.00)
3. Frog and Toad CD Audio Collection (I Can Read! - Level 2) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad, those adorable buddies, are beloved by generations who have enjoyed reading their adventures. This audio collection features all four of the Frog and Toad books (Frog and Toad Are Friends, Frog and Toad All Year, Frog and Toad Together, Days with Frog and Toad) read by their award-winning creator, Arnold Lobel. (Amazon, Audio CD $12.66, Audible $0.00 with subscription)
4. Magic Tree House Collection Volume 1: Books 1-4: Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged by Mary Pope Osborne
The Magic Tree House series makes learning about history fun and exciting through the adventures of those time travelers, Jack and Annie. This audio collection features Magic Tree House books #1 Dinosaurs Before Dark; #2 The Knight at Dawn; #3 Mummies in the Morning; and #4 Pirates Past Noon. (Amazon, Audio CD $14.65, Kindle $18.99)
GRADES 2 TO 3
1. Matilda, Audio CD – Audiobook by Roald Dahl, read by Kate Winslet
For any child who relished afternoons surrounded by a stack of books in the public library, Matilda will be a hero. Of course, her love of books is matched only by her special powers, which she discovers as the book unfolds. (Amazon Kindle, $6.99)
2. Geronimo Stilton, Books 1-3 Audio CD – Audiobook by Geronimo Stilton, read by Edward Herrmann
In three short years, Geronimo Stilton, the adventure-story-writing mouse, has become a huge kid favorite, and for good reason. A bestselling author in New Mouse City, capital of Mouse Island, Geronimo’s travails are full of mystery and humor. (Amazon, $16.64)
3. Nim's Island, Audio CD by Wendy Orr
The unflappable Nim and her father, Jack, live in an island paradise in the middle of the ocean with an assorted array of marine animals she calls friends. Your kids will listen as Nim discovers how brave she can be when those she loves are in danger. (Amazon, Kindle $6.99, Audio CD $13.45)
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Audible – Unabridged by Jeff Kinney, read by Ramon De OcampoFrom the books to the popular movies, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series appeals to all the kids out there dealing with common childhood woes, like sibling rivalry and bullies at school. Through the mistakes of its middle school aged hero, the author tackles each topic with humor and without lecturing. (Amazon, Audible or Kindle, $0.00 with subscription)
1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) Audio CD – Unabridged by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale
The fantasmagorical world of Harry Potter, 15 years old in this installment, will keep your child enthralled throughout. All the books in this infamous series, read by Jim Dale, will keep your child entertained as Harry and his loyal friends battle the dark arts as they come of age. (Amazon, Audio CD, $46.52, Kindle free with subscription, $8.99 to buy)
2. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged by E.L. Konigsburg, read by Jill Clayburgh
When Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she and her brother, Jamie, embark on an exciting adventure hiding out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. From their new home amongst the treasures, they get involved in a mystery surrounding a Renaissance statue. (Amazon, Kindle, $7.12, Audio CD $17.09)
3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Audible – Unabridged by L. Frank Baum, read by Anne Hathaway
Watch your child discover this American classic when read by Academy Award Winning actress Anne Hathaway. As great as the movie is, this is better, with interesting characters and exciting places excluded from the film. (Amazon, Kindle $.99 with subscription, free with Audible subscription)
4. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged by Rick Riordan, read by Jesse Bernstein
The final book in the series brings an exciting and satisfying conclusion to Percy and the prophecy that has been haunting him since he arrived at Camp Half-blood. Your child will be absorbed into the world of Greek mythology—and Manhattan. (Amazon, Audio CD $30.59, Kindle $4.84)