When we’re in the car for a long time, these road trip audiobooks for kids save us. My kids are good travelers, but they need something besides screens to keep them occupied.
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Yes, my kids watch movies in the car. And they get to play with their iPads. But… I don’t want them stuck on screens nonstop.
Audiobooks are a great way to keep them entertained, but it’s important that we pick books they enjoy that I can handle listening to, as well.
When I ask them to color or play a car game like cars bingo or a road trip scavenger hunt (both are free printables btw!), an audiobook is the perfect way to keep them entertained while they search the road.
I also found that once they got into a book or book series on audiobook, they wanted to continue reading at home. Sometimes they reread the book, and sometimes they found and read other books in the series or by that author.
And yes, sometimes, they like to listen to the book while they follow along with their hard copy. And I’m totally cool with that.
These are the road trip audiobooks for kids that they’ve enjoyed the most over the years. Check them out and get prepared for your next road trip!
How to listen to audiobooks in the car
The best way to listen to your audiobooks on the go? Download the book to your phone, then pair it with your car’s speaker.
Most newer cards have Android Audio and Apple CarPlay. Simply pair your phone and go.
If you don’t have that capability (my car doesn’t), you can either listen straight on your phone, tablet, or computer if you have downloaded your audiobook in advance, or you can connect your phone or tablet to your car’s stereo system.
To connect to your stereo system, either purchase an FM transmitter or use the aux connection with a high quality USB cord to maximize the audio quality, depending on what your car can handle.
The FM transmitter is pretty cool. This plugs into your car charger port, and you plug your phone into it with a standard USB cable.
Tune to an open FM station, and then you transmit from your phone to your car stereo with whatever you want. This includes hands free phone calls, as well as listening to audiobooks or podcasts or your favorite music.
As long as your phone has a 3.5mm jack port – and admittedly, some no longer do, although you can purchase an adaptor – you can easily use an AUX cable to connect your phone or tablet to your car’s stereo system.
Plug the cable into both your phone’s audio jack and the corresponding port in your car. Tune your car’s radio to aux, and you’re set to play your audiobooks or whatever else you choose.
Where is the best place to find audiobooks to listen to?
I love how many books are now available on audiobook now. It’s such a great way to enjoy books when you don’t have the time or ability or inclination to read them.
Audible is one of the most popular way to listen to audiobooks, in part for the sheer volume of titles available. Best of all, you can try Audible for 30 days free to make sure it’s a good fit for you!
This is a monthly subscription service, and it quickly pays for itself. Audible Plus costs $7.95 per month after the 30 day free trial, and it lets you listen to anything in the plus catalog at no cost.
Audible Premium plus has a couple extra benefits, and it costs $14.95 per month after your free trial. In addition to the plus catalog, you also get a credit to purchase any book in the premium catalog you want no matter its cost, and you get 30% off all additional premium titles after that in addition to exclusive sales.
You can cancel your subscription at any time, so you aren’t locked in for years at a time. Given that you get a free trial and no risk, try the Audible Premium and see how you like it.
Check your local library
If you’re lucky, your local library may offer audiobooks either physical audiobooks you can play in your car in various formats or digital options from an online source like Libby or OverDrive.
The challenge is that libraries often have a more limited selection than Audible, and popular audiobooks frequently have a wait list. If your library offers audiobooks, however, this is often a good option.
If you know you want to listen to specific audiobooks for a road trip and want to own them without creating a subscription, purchasing your audiobook is probably your best option.
This has the greatest variety of books available to you, so you can get really creative with the books you choose to purchase and listen to. Like all books, however, some may be “out of print” or not yet in audiobook form, so you can’t access every book ever published.
Kobo is another audiobook and ebook site, and they have a huge selection available. They have both a “free” account and a $10 annual VIP account.
With the “free” account, you purchase your ebooks and audiobooks as you wish to enjoy them. You do earn loyalty points with both accounts, though you earn twice as many points with the VIP account.
The VIP account also gets you 10% off over 1.5 million ebooks and audiobooks, as well as a free ebook annually (from a list of popular titles).
You earn 10 loyalty points for ever $1 you spend at Kobo (20 for VIP members), and you can redeem your points for ebooks and audiobooks starting at 2400 points.
The also have an audiobook subscription service for $9.99/month. And yes, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial. Each month, you get to choose a free audiobook that is yours to keep, even if you cancel the service.
Recommendations of the best road trip audiobooks for kids
Regardless of how you get your audiobooks, get listening! This helps to make your road trip go by faster – or at least it does for us!
Best Road Trip Audiobooks For Kids
Gregor the Overlander: Underland Chronicles, Book 1
Gregor the Overlander is a perennial favorite in our house. This five book series is a fun fantasy book that engages teens but entertains younger kids without being scary.
It follows Gregor, a kid who falls into a grate to an underworld ruled by animals and people in different kingdoms. He's part of an Underland prophecy, and there's plenty of mystery and adventure to follow.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter is a no brainer on this list, right? This is especially perfect if you happen to be making a road trip to Universal Studios (check out this article on their VIP experience - it's so amazing!).
With seven books in this magical series, it's perfect for a long road trip - or for daily carpools. When I drove five kids in carpool, we listened to audiobooks every day. It was the only way to keep them relatively quiet.
We listened to ALL the Judy Moody (and Stink) books. There is a what feels like a never ending series of books featuring the siblings.
My kids laughed constantly with the antics of Judy and her brother Stink. Sometimes they were a bit outrageous, but always in a fun way.
These books are a bit shorter than the previous two recommendations, so they're great for shorter trips - or stock up on the whole series!
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Origami Yoda is another hilarious series. Do you sense a theme of choosing books that have sequels so we know what to grab next?
Despite the name, this is not a Star Wars focused book. Dwight, a socially awkward kid, shows up at school with an origami finger puppet of Yoda who gives advice.
The question becomes whether it's the puppet or Dwight giving the advice in this humorous book that also tackles some good messages throughout.
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Both my kids adored the Percy Jackson books, as well. These are far more kid friendly than the movies.
Percy has a human mother and Poseidon as his father, which makes for an interesting discovery and series of adventures. This is another series of books that keeps my kids entertaining and has a good story I enjoy listening to, as well.
The Sword of Summer: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
For those who love fantasty books, the Magnus Chase books are another great set to add to your audiobooks to enjoy. Written by Rick Riordan who wrote the Percy Jackson series above, this series follows an orphan who learns he's the son of a Norse god.
Of course Magnus is the only one who can stop Ragnarok, the doomsday with the gods of Asgard preparing for war. He's off to search the nine realms for the lost weapon that can fix everything.
How to Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon is another beloved book series that has been turned into movies. Don't forget about the original format, however, as the stories are much richer and have more depth.
The story of an outcast dragon and an outcast Viking in a world where dragons and humans work together but yet have so many challenges is filled with adventure and sweetness. My kids love all the books in this series, so keep reading!
The Tail of Emily Windsnap
We absolutely adore this story of a mermaid who discovers she's a (half) mermaid when she takes her first swimming lessons. Needless to say, this discovery opens up all sorts of questions and mysteries and adventures for her.
It's a fun loving story with a strong hero who grows significantly across the book (and series) with some real life problems kids face that gets addressed well.
The Magic Misfits
My kids love stories about underdogs, and this is a great example. Carter is a street magician who runs away, then finds like minded friends in a small New England town.
of course a villain enters the story, and Carter and his friends have to fix everything. We loved that this book had tons of Easter eggs that bring the magic to your kids (including teaching them tricks).
The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events
If you've ever read the Lemony Snicket books, you know why we're hooked on them. The characters are so unique and memorable, and the writing brings the world to you so clearly.
The children in the book live a terrible life, but it's all told in such an outrageous manner that it becomes fun and lighthearted. All the adventures across all the books draw the reader in. This is definitely one to enjoy again and again.
Geronimo Stilton: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye
I'll admit it. The Geronimo Stilton books are not my favorite, but my kids loved them and I enjoy them in small doses. I can't read or listen to them one after the other, but they're great for a fun change.
And as much as I love puns (the books are full of them), the characters are a bit of a charactature that can be a little overdone. It sometimes feels like the book is written as one big exclamation point, but the stories and adventures are fun - and my kids adored this series.
The Knights of the Kitchen Table: Time Warp Trio
The Time Warp Trio got my son interested in King Arthur's court and the mythology and stories of the time. This book series takes three boys and deposits them unexpectedly as knights fighting fire breathing dragons and more.
They have to work together to figure out how to return to their own time and solve problems along the way. My kids loved these, and I appreciated that they focused on positive traits of the characters and have entertaining (if far fetched) plots.
The Nixie's Song: Beyond Spiderwick Chronicles
If you can't tell, my kids frequently veered to a fantasy side when choosing books, and this is one of my favorite series we've listened to. This series is "Beyond Spiderwick" and set after the original series.
In this edition, Nicholas Vargas has to deal not only with his father remarrying and living with a new stepmother and sister, but he also discovers a giant who may destroy his home. Shocker, he has to figure out how to solve his giant problem (get it?) and learn to get along with his new family at the same time.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
This book is filled with quirky characters stuck in a challenging situation. When the town library opens, 12 kids get to spend the night in it that first night.
In the morning, however, the doors are locked, and they have to work together to find out how to escape. The writing is hilarious, and it kept us on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what came next.
I absolutely adored the Fablehaven series, possibly even more than my kids did, which is saying a lot. Kendra and Seth go to visit their grandparents, having no idea that their grandfather is the caretaker of Fablehaven, a refuge for all sorts of magical creatures.
When Seth breaks the rules and goes into the woods, they discover how great the consequences are as Kendra (and her grandfather) have to rescue him and put the sanctuary back on stable ground.
Holes is a bit of a deeper and more serious book than most of those on this list, but it's a fantastic book that we all enjoyed. It created some fascinating conversations as we talked about the book during breaks, too - always a win.
The book follows a boy in a juvenile detention center where the kids are forced to dig holes every day. It's a brutal life, and Stanley slowly figures out there's more to digging holes than anyone realizes.
What would you add to this list of road trip audiobooks for kids?
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