Audiobooks can be a great way to pass the miles on a road trip, but finding something that everyone can enjoy together can be challenging. Too complex and you’ll lose the younger listeners, too childish and older listeners will quickly tune out. Here’s my attempt at finding that happy medium that everyone can get something out of. Some are on CD, some are downloadable, many are both. Start your engines!
A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry. Holy Cow, are these books entertaining. While ostensibly written for children, I devoured them as an adult. Tim Curry’s narration will keep everyone rapt for miles. And there are 13 books in the series!
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Some of these might be too lengthy for the very youngest listeners, but school-age and up will be swiftly caught up in the adventures of Harry and friends. Jim Dale’s award-winning narration is amazing.
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, read by Mark Hamill. Yes, that Mark Hamill. Turns out he’s an excellent narrator in addition as well as the greatest Jedi the galaxy has ever known. The series tells the story of the Grace children, who move into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate with their mother, only to find it full of faerie problems.
How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell, read by David Tennant. Another narrator that parents will know more than kids, Tennant’s narration of this fictional Viking world and the experiences of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III on his journey to Becoming a Hero the Hard Way will entertain one and all.
For a slightly older crowd (middle school & up):
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, BBC Radio plays, from the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, performed by a full cast. Bilbo, Frodo, and friends keep the action going for 13+ hours, and the full cast keeps things lively.
Hatchet and Brian’s Return by Gary Paulsen, read by Peter Coyote. This wilderness survival story about a 13-year-old boy who’s the sole survivor of a plane crash in the wilds of Canada is a longtime favorite with boys and reluctant readers. A fast moving story with plenty of drama.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, read by Stephen Fry. A perfect marriage of material and narrator. Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Hilarity ensues.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton. Futuristic gaming, 80’s nostalgia, and codes to crack – there is something to appeal to a broad age range here and a terrific fast-paced story to boot.
What are some audiobooks you’ve enjoyed as a family? Let us know in the comments!