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End “Are We There Yet?” with These 7 Entertaining Audiobooks for Tweens

by Liz Lesnick

Photo credit: Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico, Digital Vision/ Getty Images

How do you face a long road trip with the kids when no one can read because they get car sick, and you have a “classic” car (i.e., only equipped with a radio and a CD player)? One word: audiobooks. Thanks to audiobooks, our family looks forward to hitting the road. (We’ve even been known to cheer for traffic when we’re at an especially exciting part of a story.) Listening to audiobooks provides us with an all-too-rare shared reading experience now that our daughter is, “too old to have stories read to me.” So stop dreading the drives, and start planning your audio itinerary. Here are seven of our family’s favorites to get you started.

  • Boy

    by Roald Dahl, narrated by Dan Stevens

    The audio adaptations of Roald Dahl’s novels have long been family favorites, so I was thrilled when I found Boy on the new audiobooks shelf at our local library. Boy is Dahl’s memoir about his remarkable childhood, the source of many memorable moments in Dahl’s novels. Dan Stevens, “Downton Abbey’s” Matthew Crawley, shows his considerable talents as a voice actor, portraying characters that range from cruel public school classmates, to kindly Norwegian relatives, to dotty doctors.

    Listen to an excerpt

  • Dead End in Norvelt

    by Jack Gantos, narrated by the author

    Twelve-year-old Jack Gantos has planned the perfect summer, but he didn’t count on being grounded. But it turns out that his punishment, helping an elderly neighbor with odd jobs, is full of surprises. In this Newbery Medal winner, Jack Gantos masterfully interweaves humor and history into this entertaining story about an unforgettable summer.

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  • Guys Read: Funny Business

    edited by John Scieszka, read by John Scieszka

    Warning: Listening to Guys Read: Funny Business during a car ride may cause laughter-induced lateness when driver must pull over to catch her breath or wipe off milk from the back of her neck which was spat out by hysterical passengers in the back seat.

    Master of monkey business Jon Scieszka treats young and old alike to a gaggle of giggles in this collection of ten hilarious stories from some of the funniest writers around. The all-star line-up includes kidlit faves Jeff Kinney, Paul Feig, and Kate DiCamillo.

  • Liesl & Po

    by Lauren Oliver, narrated by Jim Dale

    Poor Liesl. Her cruel stepmother forces her to live in the attic where her only friends are the shadows and the mice. At first my daughter wasn’t interested in what sounded like yet another take on Cinderella, but once I told her that Jim Dale, of the Grammy Award-winning Harry Potter audiobooks, was the reader, she agreed to give Liesl & Po a chance. In minutes, we were captivated by Jim Dale’s extraordinary performance and absorbed in the adventures of three unlikely friends.

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  • A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning

    by Lemony Snicket, narrated by a full cast, featuring Tim Curry

    Even if your child has read the entire Lemony Snicket series many times over, like a certain someone in my house, don’t deprive them or you of the delicious, dark delights of the series’ audiobooks. A perfectly cast Tim Curry revels in his roles as the narrator (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) and the dastardly Count Olaf, uncle of the orphaned Baudelaire children, who is not to be trusted. Take my advice, bring Book Two (and maybe Three) to pre-empt a cranky passenger on your return trip.

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  • Masterpiece

    by Elise Broach, narrated by by Jeremy Davidson

    Meet James, an 11-year-old boy, and his friend Marvin, a beetle, and exceptional artist, who lives under the kitchen sink in James’s apartment. When James stumbles on a plan to steal an Albrecht Durer drawing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he’ll need Marvin’s talents to foil the heist. Mystery lovers and fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will love this charming tale of a boy and a beetle that save the day.

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  • When You Reach Me

    by Rebecca Stead, narrated by Cynthia Holloway

    Everyone around sixth grader Miranda seems to be changing — friends, family, even her neighborhood. Then she starts getting a series of anonymous letters, and her world really does seem to be turning upside down. Rebecca Stead’s artful blend of science fiction and mystery kept us guessing through the story’s startling conclusion. When You Reach Me sparked a lot of questions and conversations in our family and helped a long car ride fly by.

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