Keeping families connected across hallways, miles and milestones

Top Ten Family-Friendly Audio Books

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We love listening to Audio Books in the car!  So much so that we don’t save them for long road trips but for nearly anytime that we are in the car – the morning drive to school or around town.  Audio Books even made my list of seven easy activities to connect with kids!

 

Audio books offer an opportunity to expand the kids vocabulary, discuss issues and have a shared experience together, even as we drive the same stretch of road day in and day out or have been on the road for a seemingly endless number of days.

 

My husband and I have driven the miles between Washington State and Michigan several times over; in addition to many other cross-country road trips.  To the tune of 30,000 miles traveled by car together!

 

Yes, that’s a lot of driving.  We’ve driven 10,000+ of those miles with our three children; the first cross-country trip with a 4 year old, almost 2 year old and a 6-week old.  The last in 2014 with an 8, 6 and 4 year old.

 

I love road trips.  I love seeing our amazing country.  I love the time spent together that gives way to mundane conversations and secret dreams.  I love that my children ask me to return to that place we slept under all those stars and beautiful sky!  (Thank you, Wyoming).

 

I’ll admit that two years out from our last road trip, I am feeling a bit romantic and nostalgic about it.  But I’d drive off tomorrow for our next 5,000 mile adventure without a second thought.

 

There are a lot of hacks, trick and tips out there for road travel with children.  I’ve got many posted to Pinterest.   While we do own an in-vehicle DVD, we are of the notion to limit the amount of movie watching and screen time that our kids get on our road trips.  I’ll admit it was easier to keep the electronics at bay when the kids were smaller but we want our kids to experience our family road trips with minimal amounts of time spent with their heads in electronics.

 

Audio Books and journals have successfully filled hours and hours of our time on the road.

 

I love that the kids are engaged in the stories and I love it even more when I get engaged in the story as well.  On occasion I have found myself listening to the kids audio books long after I have dropped them off at school.

 

But as the driver, the narrator’s voice needs to be engaging and interesting.  While the print version may be a wonderful read, if the narrator’s voice is irritating or even worse, lulling then the audio book is a dud.

 

Each of my top ten Family-Friendly audio books, my children and I have listened to more than once.  Sometimes closer to a dozen times.

 

My Top Ten Family-Friendly Audio Books:

 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson and narrated by Elaine Stritch.

My all time favorite audio book!  This audio book has been a Christmas Tradition of ours for years now.  I love the narrator’s, Elaine Stritch, voice.  I love the story.  It’s funny, warm, quirky and contains a sense of nostalgia that I enjoy.  My kids and I listened to this audio book half-a-dozen times this past holiday season.  Even my mother-in-law laughs out loud to this audio book.

 

Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Clearly.  Performed by Stockard Channing.

We have listened to the entire series.  My kids love hearing about Ramona walking to school at age eight, something they don’t do!  I love discussing the sibling fights that Ramona has with her sister and how it relates to their sibling relationships.  The stories are wholesome and timeless.

 

Matilda by Roald Dahl.

Amazingly, the first time I “read” this book was listening to the audio book with my children.  And I was just as riveted as they were.  They were simply not permitted to continue listening while in the car with dad.  I had to know what happened next!  My kids love the creative story-telling of Roald Dahl.

 

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Such a fun story made even more fascinating by the fact the book is a memoir of the authors own childhood.  The humor in hearing how this large family operated was thoroughly enjoyed. However, I do want to warn you that in Chapter 13: Have You Seen the Latest Model, the children in the story ask where babies come from and while there wasn’t any real explanation I did skip through the chapter so my own children wouldn’t ask.

 

Pipi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.

This was the first chapter book I ever read to my children.  I loved that they were riveted around the breakfast table and they loved having me read it.  It took me a month to read.  The audio book was just as engaging; especially since they could listen to chapter after chapter in one sitting.  This one was a classic for me.  I loved it as a child and loved sharing it with my kids.  We’ve read the book, listened to the audio book, watched the movie and attended a play at Seattle Children’s Theater.

 

 

The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean by Alexander McCall-Smith

It was only by chance that I choose this audio book while browsing the shelves of the library.  I’ll assume I judged a book by its cover.  Usually, I will find interesting books through The Read Aloud Handbook (I highly recommend) and place a library hold.  The story is humorous and upbeat with a heart-felt story line on finding our lost families.

 

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.

Looking back, as a child I was more of a Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume fan but as a parent bringing books into my children’s lives  I’ve developed a love for Roald Dahl.  It’s not a stretch to call him the World’s No. 1 Storyteller.  Danny the Champion of the World doesn’t disappoint.  The book has both adventure and mystery mixed with humor.  It had the entire family rooting for the underdog.

 

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

I had heard wonderful praise for this book and had borrowed the book from the library on several occasions.  However, we never did get to reading the book aloud and my oldest didn’t pick it up on her own to read.   This book offered us so many opportunities for discussion from sibling rivalry to differing perspectives to differing abilities.   Although, should you ask my kids I’m sure they would have preferred me to shut up and stop pausing the book so we could discuss it.   While the plot kept my children guessing what would happen next, I was less so on the edge of my seat; especially in comparison to some of my other audio book selections.  However, it’s was an enjoyable listen for both kids and adults.  But for differing reasons.

 

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater

As my kids transitioned from listening to fifteen-minute audio books with the page-changing dings that accompany the paper book, this was one of the first full-length audio books we listened to.  It’s been a couple of years since we’ve listened to Mr. Popper’s Penguins but I still remember this silly, charming story.

 

The BFG by Roald Dahl

A delightful story filled with imagination and mixed with a little scary intrigue perfectly suited for the kids.   Listening to my children’s audible reactions to the book was nearly as enjoyable as listening to the reader.  Another great book by a great author.  My children still enjoy the silly, nonsense words they learned from the Big, Friendly Giant.

 

In addition to my top ten, my kids have several of their own favorites.  All of which do fit my criteria for having nice narration but simply aren’t as engaging for me.  My children’s favorites are Magic Tree House series (they’ve listened to nearly every one), Tinker Fairies Series, Peter Pan, The Collected Stories of Winnie the Poo, and the Wind in the Willows.

 

The Da Vinci Code was the first audio book my husband and I listened to on one of our many cross-country road trips.  I have been hooked on audio books ever since!

 

Not all great reads make great audio.  Finding engaging audio books for the whole family that aren't irritating or lulling to the driver can be difficult.


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Circle Cut Out Amanda

 I am a lover of campfires and road trips, long summer days spent outdoors and long winter nights reading by the fire. I blog about living far from family and ways to keep connected. And on an given day, I may regret living far from family while also being thankful for where I am.  Find out more! 

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