I promised you a list of my top 10 picks for children’s literature on audiobook so here it is. Technically, Harry Potter should be on this list, but I put that series on my adult list because I listened and loved that series as an adult—possibly more than I would have if I’d read them as a child.
We’ve listened to so many great versions of children’s literature made even better by fantastic narration! Here’s my favorites:
10. Matilda by Roald Dahl narrated by Kate Winslet
I must admit I’m not much of a Roald Dahl fan. However, when I was introduced to the movie, Matilda, I fell in love with the smart, quirky girl who is so misunderstood and devalued by her family. So we picked up the audiobook version and immensely enjoyed it! How could we not with Kate Winslet’s excellent rendition of it?
9. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry narrated by Blair Brown
Within a few sentences I was hooked, totally invested in what would happen to Annemarie and her friend, Ellen. The writing was strong and vivid as it sought to answer the universal question: what does it mean to be brave? Number the Stars tells a fictionalized version of true events that led to the courageous citizens of Denmark successfully relocating most of their Jewish population to Sweden under cover of night in fishing vessels right under the Nazis’ noses.
8. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg narrated by Jill Clayburgh
This delightful story was one I missed as a kid and was so happy to enjoy with my kids. I mean, runaways in a museum!?! Claudia and Jamie run away from home, but practical Claudia wants comfort and culture—so they hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The story mixes humor, art, and timeless truths into a fantastic story that all my kids loved.
7. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley narrated by Jane Entwistle
I think this moving book is a modern-day classic. It deals with abuse and trauma so well, yet is a story that brims with hope. Ada and her brother, Jamie, escape from their abusive mother thanks to W. W. II and the evacuation of children from London, but Ada has a club foot and must learn to deal with the world outside of the four walls her mother kept her in.
6. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George read by Christina Moore
I just don’t think you can go wrong when you pick a Newberry Award winner to read. Every time, I’m never disappointed. And who knew Alaska and wolves could be so interesting? This is a type of survival story that also teaches you a whole lot about the complicated way wolves communicate with each other. There were times it sounded far fetched, but when I looked it up, what the author wrote was a true representation of how wolf packs interact. Miyax is a young woman who is struggling with finding her place and identity as an Eskimo. Does she reject the past? Or does her future include the rich ancestry of her Eskimo traditions? It’s a tear-jerker, for sure.
5. Navigating Early by Claire Vanderpool read by multiple narrators
I LOVED this book. It has a lot of depth and can be read at so many different levels. It is a newer version of a quest story that mirrors so many great quests of old. I kept thinking of The Odyssey during this story. I thought that the multiple narrators helped “cue” when different parts of the storyline were beginning and helped separate them from each other. Highly recommend!
4. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munzo Ryan read by Trini Alvarado
This is an incredible story of an often overlooked area in children’s literature. The audio version was wonderful because it helped with the Spanish words that were included in the text. Also, the author’s notes at the end cannot be missed!
3. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor read by Jacqueline Woodson
This classic Newberry Award-winning novel should be read by every child and adult alike. Exciting, heart-warming, and heart-breaking, this story is compelling and worth discussing. At the end of our audio version there is a wonderful epilogue by the author explaining how she got the idea for the book and her thoughts on using the “N” word. Definitely a must-listen.
2. The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White read by the author
I remember laughing my head off over the antics Louis the swan and his family. When it came to share it with my kids we listened to E. B. White himself read it on audio. His voice is warm with a delightful New England accent that adds so much to the story.
1. The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection read by Stockard Channning
I will never get tired of Stockard Channing reading the Ramona Quimby series. The books are a delight in themselves and depict childhood in SUCH a real way. Everyone can relate to Ramona’s struggles with her older sister and spelling. But Channing’s voice adds so much.
What’s your favorite children’s audiobook selection?
ohh, I can’t believe Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan isn’t on here! I love every book of hers I’ve read, but Echo HAS to be experienced as an audiobook, I think.
I definitely love Stockard Channing–the only way to experience Ramona IMHO 🙂
Several of the others are favorites of mine, but ones I’ve only read, not listened to. Hopefully as Miriam gets older we can start listening to audiobooks in the car again! She is very opinionated and only wants music, OY!
We started Echo and the kids didn’t like it, but it’s on my list to return to on my own, or to try again with them. I’ve heard SUCH good things about it! Thanks for the reminder, we need to do it this year!
Ashley | meaningfulhomeschool
We loved the audio version of Trumpet of the Swan! I may have cried a few times ♥️ And Ramona is a favorite of ours, too, along with Henry Huggins. My son devours audiobooks so finding new ones is always a priority! Thanks for the list!
Your number 1 is my number 1! I listen to them frequently—with or without child!
Yes, no children needed to enjoy Ramona! That is for sure!