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AudioFile Magazine’s Top 10 Audiobooks for Holiday Travel

Photo credit: Sam Edwards, Caiaimage/Getty Images

Nothing makes long hours in the car speed by like a captivating story, read by an accomplished narrator. Shared “book” experiences not only provide hours of listening pleasure, they also open up avenues for family discussion. All cries of “Are we there yet?” will vanish as the whole family listens, spellbound, to these absorbing audios.

  • Audiobooks for Families with Young Children

  • Young children love stories about animals, especially when those animals seem childlike themselves. Here are three wonderful adventures featuring a delightful ensemble of critters, given voice by some accomplished narrators.

  • Appleblossom the Possum

    by Holly Goldberg Sloan, narrated by Dustin Hoffman

    Seasoned actor Dustin Hoffman shines in this heartwarming tale of a small possum, her brave littermates, and a human family with (gasp!) a dog. His lively reading amplifies the humor inherent in the story, making this a thoroughly engaging choice for young listeners and their grown-ups.

    Listen to a clip:

  • The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure

    by Doreen Cronin, narrated by Adam Grupper and Michele O. Medlin

    The first title devoted to the laugh-out-loud misadventures of four fearless feathered friends. Narrators Grupper and Medlin are hilarious as they take on the roles of not only the chicks, but also retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully and a cowardly squirrel, terrified of something “big and scary in the backyard.” Fun for the whole family.

    Listen to a clip:

  • Winnie-the-Pooh

    by A.A. Milne, narrated by a full cast including Stephen Fry, Judi Dench, Geoffrey Palmer, Jane Horrocks, and Michael Williams

    Grown-up fans of British television will enjoy this as much as the young children with whom they listen, appreciating how these accomplished actors take on the roles of the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood with great zest and affection. Pooh’s hums are accompanied by piano tunes, which also separate the stories in this stellar audio production.

    Listen to a clip:

  • Listens for Families with Middle Grade Kids & Up

  • Middle graders are just beginning to figure out who they are, and audiobooks that highlight young people finding their way in the world are bound to please. These four titles offer themes that range from history to family and from slightly scary to downright ghoulish, all wrapped up in impeccable narration and production.

  • Echo

    by Pam Muñoz Ryan, narrated by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler

    A magical harmonica wends its way through four stories of young people overcoming adversity, beginning with enchantment in the Black Forest, through Germany under the Nazis, to orphan boys in Pennsylvania, and ending with victory over discrimination in California. Talented narrators and the lilting strains of the harmonica distinguish this 2016 Odyssey Honor audiobook.

    Listen to a clip:

  • Grayling’s Song

    by Karen Cushman, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

    Grayling, the insecure daughter of a local wise woman, returns home to find her mother turning into a tree. Attempting to stop this curse, Grayling collects an odd assortment of characters, discovering in the end that she alone can reverse the evil spell. Katherine Kellgren creates distinctive voices, composed the music, and sings the songs in this atmospheric, dramatic audio.

    Listen to a clip:

  • The Graveyard Book

    by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Derek Jacobi, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Emilia Fox, Reece Shearsmith, Lenny Henry, Neil Gaiman, and an Ensemble Cast

    Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal winner gets a star-studded makeover with this full-cast recording. Some of the brightest lights in theater and voice acting take on the graveyard characters keeping young Bod safe from the evil that has been stalking him since he was a toddler. Bela Fleck’s banjo rendition of “Danse Macabre” floats throughout the performance, heightening the eerie quality of the production.

    Listen to a clip:

  • Raymie Nightingale

    by Kate DiCamillo, narrated by Jenna Lamia

    The amazing Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie, Flora and Ulysses) has crafted another curious story of children and loss that tugs at the heartstrings. Jenna Lamia’s earnest narration invites us to listen attentively to the unhappy circumstances that bind three lonely girls together in an unlikely friendship.

    Listen to a clip:

  • Recordings Everyone Will Love

  • By turns thoughtful and funny, these three titles are excellent choices for family listening across a wide array of ages. In fact, they’re so engaging, you might find yourself driving a longer route just to keep listening.

  • A Snicker of Magic

    by Natalie Lloyd, narrated by Cassandra Morris

    Magic, hope, and the power of story blend together in this enchanting tale of Felicity Pickle, who sees words floating everywhere and who desperately wants to settle down with her family in quirky Midnight Gulch, Tennessee. Cassandra Morris’s light southern accent and childlike tone perfectly captures the emotional quality of a story that transcends age.

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  • The BFG

    by Roald Dahl, narrated by David Walliams (Listening Library, 2013)

    Sophie teams up with the Big Friendly Giant to thwart the horrible Bloodbottler and other horrid giants from gobbling up little children. Amusing invented language, along with music and sound effects, are paired with Walliams’s amazing ability to create a panoply of voices in Dahl’s classic story.

    Listen to a clip:

  • The Carpet People

    by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Stephen Briggs

    When he was 17, Terry Pratchett created this story about a complex world in the fibers of the carpet. Pratchett revisited and rewrote it years later, and listeners of all ages will delight in brothers Glurk and Snibril, fighting power-mad Muols, and the mysterious force known as Fray. Long-time Pratchett narrator Briggs develops distinct voices for the many characters, mining the humor of this magical world.

    Listen to a clip:

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