20 Children's Audiobooks to Turn Your Kid Into a Digital-Age Bookworm

Updated on July 7, 2020
Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

With a Bachelor's degree in Primary Education and a deep love for cooking, Kyriaki spends her time between the classroom and her kitchen.

Children's audiobooks could help your kiddo fall in love with reading.
Children's audiobooks could help your kiddo fall in love with reading.

Let's be honest: Our reading culture is going through a Renaissance of sorts.

From non-fiction to novels, our favorite paperbacks are being voiced-over, giving the phrase "curling up with a good book" a whole new meaning.

And yes, many bibliophiles may view this as a bad thing.

But, I think audiobooks are a great way to turn kids into bonafide bookworms.

Besides, children have always loved listening to a good story, and research shows that audiobooks are the perfect tool to spark their enthusiasm for reading.

So, if you're ready to get them all excited about literature, gear up, hit play, and let these twenty children's audiobooks sweep them away.

Toddlers (1–3 Years Old)

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1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Plot: The Very Hungry Caterpillar follows the journey of a newborn caterpillar that hatches out of a tiny egg and eats its way through several foods for an entire week. Having satisfied its appetite, the bug nestles into a cocoon for two weeks and, then, transforms into a beautiful butterfly.

Why It's Worth It: The book may have been released more than 50 years ago. But, its story has an enduring appeal to it as it's equal parts educational and fun. It introduces tots to several everyday concepts such as the days of the week and healthy eating.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • The Very Busy Spider

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2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The Plot: Goodnight Moon is a classic bedtime story about a little rabbit and his comforting nighttime routine. Every night the bunny looks around his green room, checks out all the objects, and wishes them "Goodnight!" Then, once he's done with his nighty-nights, he closes his eyes and goes to sleep.

Why It's Worth It: The lyrical rhymes and soothing narration in this audiobook can lull any toddler to sleep — even the most restless ones. The story also refers to several familiar objects (balloons, a telephone, and the moon), which make the setting all the more relatable.

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3. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

The Plot: Llama Llama Red Pajama is a fun, upbeat story about a little llama that's ready to turn in but feels the angst building up when his mom leaves the room. Instinctively, the animal starts to whimper, but his mom is busy downstairs and asks him to be patient for a while. Soon, she rushes into the room and comforts the little llama to sleep.

Why It's Worth It: This read-aloud is the perfect opportunity to develop your kid’s emotional skills. You can talk with them about how sometimes you may be too busy to play, but they shouldn’t get upset about it. Instead, they could either wait or occupy themselves with another activity. Such self-soothing skills could help them deal with separation anxiety once they start school.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Llama Llama Mad at Mama

  • Llama Llama Time to Share

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4. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Plot: The Snowy Day tells the story of Peter, an African-American boy who wakes up to see the entire city covered in snow. Excited about the first snowfall, the boy puts on his snowsuit and heads outside for a full day's play. That night, Peter has a dream that the sun comes out and melts all the snow. But, much to his relief, the snow is still there when he wakes up the next morning.

Why It's Worth It: The story may be simple at its core, but it strikes the right tone with tots by focusing on something they all love; the snow. It also features an African-American kid as the main character, which is great for building a sense of inclusion for your mini-me.

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5. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

The Plot: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site follows the story of five hard-working trucks that toil all day at a construction site. once the sun sets, the trucks get ready to hit the hay. One by one, the Crane Truck, the Bulldozer, the Cement Mixer, the Dump Truck, and the Excavator perform a final task for the day and then, wish everyone "Goodnight!"

Why It's Worth It: You'd think that truck and construction sounds would be the last thing to put your toddler to sleep. But, this audiobook for kids begs to differ. By starting strong and gradually cutting back on all the action, it soothes kids little by little.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Mighty, Mighty Construction Site

Preschoolers (3–6 Years Old)

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6. The Incredible Book-Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

The Plot: The Incredible Book-Eating Boy shares the story of Henry, a boy that loves books so much that he eats them. And here comes the bizarre part: The more books he eats, the smarter he gets. However, his zeal to become the smartest kid in the world makes him eat one too many books. The result? He ends up with loads of undigested content in his stomach and head. So, he tries reading a book for a change and realizes that his diet was just one of the ways to fill his brain with knowledge.

Why It's Worth It: This story is a literal take on how books can nurture our minds. In a funny and somewhat comical way, it points out the side effects of over-indulging, giving you a chance to talk to children about self-control. You can also explain to them that taking shortcuts (and not putting in the work) could sometimes do more harm than good.

7. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

The Plot: Little Blue Truck tells the story of Blue, a friendly pick-up truck that drives through the countryside and greets every animal he meets down the road. Things go awry when a big dump truck drives past Blue and gets stuck in the mud. Since the dumper was rude to everyone so far, no animal wants to help him. But, Blue takes the plunge and ends up mired in the mud with him. To help their kind-hearted friend, all animals chime in and get both vehicles back on the road.

Why It's Worth It: Between the rhyming verses, truck sounds, and animal noises, this kids' audiobook is impossible to mute. It also focuses on important values such as kindness, friendship, and teamwork that every kid should be taught at this age.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Little Blue Truck Leads the Way

8. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

The Plot: Dragons Love Tacos tells the story of a boy and his dog who decide to throw an epic taco party for their dragon friends. During prep, the boy explains that dragons love all kinds of tacos, but can't stand spicy salsa because it makes them snort sparks. Unfortunately, despite the boy's best efforts to skip the zesty condiment, dragons find some salsa with jalapeno peppers in it and end up burning the house as they spit fire. The good news? The creatures help the boy rebuild his house, so no harm is done.

Why It's Worth It: OK, this audiobook for kids doesn't exactly offer an earth-shattering moral. But, sometimes a story is just about having fun. And given its funny plot and fiery narration, this fairy tale is hands-down the most entertaining way to spark your kid's imagination.PS: if you really want to find a substantive message in all of this, that'd be to:

a) always read the food label for ingredients you wish to avoid and

b) know that good friends are there to help you when things go south.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel

9. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Plot: The Gruffalo follows the adventures of a resourceful, little mouse that outsmarts his potential predators (a fox, an owl, and a snake). How? Well, he makes up a story about an imaginary scary monster, known as the Gruffalo. However, his lies catch up with him when he stumbles upon the real Gruffalo. The two animals strike up a funny conversation during which the mouse convinces the beast that he's "the scariest animal in the deep dark wood."

Why It's Worth It: Spine-tingling narration aside, this audiobook for kids teaches kiddos to think outside the box, especially in times of need. And if you're worried about the monster giving your little one nightmares, take heart. The Gruffalo is more of a "gentle giant." So, chances are your mini-me will actually fancy the creature than fret it.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • The Gruffalo's Child

10. Elbow Grease by John Cena

The Plot: Elbow Grease tells the story of Bo, a little gutsy monster truck that wants to compete in the Demolition Derby against his four (bigger and faster) brothers. The only problem? He's really small, and his battery needs to be recharged daily. But, despite the odds being against him, Bo pursues his dream and proves to everyone that spunk beats horsepower. Spoiler alert: He doesn't actually win the race, but he's definitely champ material.

Why It's Worth It: In a world where feminist kids' books get the lion's share of attention, it's refreshing to see a story that aims to inspire young boys. From instilling them the idea that winning isn't always the answer to showing them that being different is A-OK, Bo gives little boys a lesson in self-esteem, determination, and hard work. Fun fact: Professional wrestler John Cena is the mastermind behind this adorable character and narrates the tale with high-octane energy.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Elbow Grease vs. Motozilla

  • Elbow Grease: Fast Friends

Gradeschoolers (7–12 Years Old)

11. Andersen's Fairy Tales

The Plot: Andersen's Fairy Tales (Volume 1) is a compilation of folk tales penned by the world-renowned author, Hans Christian Andersen. The collection features eighteen short stories by the Danish writer, including a few classics like "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Snow Queen," and "The Princess and the Pea."

Why It's Worth It: Even if you don't frequent the fairy tale genre, you've probably heard of Andersen's magical stories. His vivid descriptions, captivating storylines, and bizarre take on "Happily Ever After" make for a whimsical trifecta that fascinates kids from the get-go.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Andersen's Fairy Tales (Volume 2)

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12. Start Now! You Can Make a Difference by Chelsea Clinton

The Plot: Start Now! You Can Make a Difference is a non-fiction audiobook for kids that aims to educate pre-teens on global issues such as climate change, world hunger, healthy eating, animal extinction, and even bullying. Each topic is introduced through a brief overview and a precise bit of history and then, followed by a few real-life stories, which prove to kids that they can advocate for change. Each chapter is also embellished with illustrations and topped off with a Start Now! Activity list that your child can use to jump in on the action.

Why It's Worth It: Written and narrated by Chelsea Clinton herself, this "budding activist" guide is perfectly tailored for a middle-grade audience. That means it's a perfect fit for pre-teens with serious questions that need serious (yet understandable) answers. The audiobook's simple vocabulary and occasional spelling can also help your soon-to-be activist understand basic civic concepts and turn into a socially conscious individual.

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13. Matilda by Roald Dahl

The Plot: Matilda follows the story of a four-year-old prodigy girl that teaches herself to read and is gifted with the power of telekinesis. Unfortunately, her parents don't appreciate her talents. But, once school starts, Matilda meets Miss Honey, who helps her nurture her gifts. Meanwhile, the school's bullying headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, makes everyone's life a living hell. So, the girl uses her strengths to drive the "tyrannical monster" away.

Why It's Worth It: If you've seen the movie, you already know that this story can leave a lasting impression on a young mind. Oscar-winner Kate Winslet also animates Matilda's adventures with such enthusiasm that no kid will be able to hit "PAUSE."

14. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Plot: The One and Only Ivan is told from the perspective of Ivan, a gentle silverback gorilla who lives in a glass-walled "domain" at a mall. Having spent most of his life in captivity, the ape has zero memory of the jungle and has learned to endure the cruelty of humans stoically. But, things change when baby elephant Ruby joins the team. Seeing the abuse she's subjected to, Ivan remembers how he was forcefully plucked from the wild. So, he promises to Stella, a dying elderly elephant, to save Ruby – which he does in a very creative way.

Why It's Worth It: Animal abuse, captivity, species extinction... In today's day and age, there are several cruel ways that humans interact with animals. However, explaining these issues to kids isn't always easy. That's why Ivan's touching journey could serve as an excellent conversation starter. The kids' audiobook also highlights the importance of friendship, proving to readers that caring for others is super-important.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • The One and Only Bob

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15. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

The Plot: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane chronicles the adventures of Edward Tulane, a self-absorbed china rabbit who's spoiled rotten by Abilene, a little girl that loves him to pieces. The toy gets a rude awakening when he is thrown away at sea and goes from one owner to the next. Some even treat him like dirt. After experiencing his fair share of humiliation, Edward ends up at an antique shop where he reunites with his original owner, Abilene.

Why It's Worth It: At first glance, the story seems a little inappropriate for young readers. Heck, even the vocabulary is inflated at times. But, that's what makes this audiobook so unique. Unlike most, it introduces children to feelings that are hard to talk about at this age, including loss, pain, gratitude, and humbleness. The author's graceful writing also strikes a perfect balance between sweetness and melancholy. So, kids can get a taste of both worlds without being too consumed by the sad events of the story.

Teens (13–15 Years Old)

16. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

The Plot: Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone tells the story of Harry Potter, an 11-year-old boy who discovers his magical heritage when he receives an acceptance letter to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The young wizard makes both enemies and friends during his freshman year at the academy and also encounters Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard who killed his parents when he was just a baby.

Why It's Worth It: Believe it or not, the fantasy series is more than just flying brooms and goofy spells. From cover to cover, the story conveys an array of positive messages and values such as altruism and the importance of education that could inspire your teen to lead a more accomplished life. Courage, loyalty, and respect for the elders are also amongst the many qualities that are celebrated throughout the story.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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17. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Plot: Anne of Green Gables recounts the life of Anne Shirley, a feisty, red-headed orphan girl who is mistakenly adopted by a brother and a sister in their fifties/sixties. At first, both siblings think of sending Anne back to the orphanage (after all, they originally wanted a boy), but the girl charms her way into their lives and becomes part of their family. Due to her academic prowess, she also excels at school and goes on to become a teacher, but moves back home when her "parents" grow old.

Why It's Worth It: Besides the heart-warming arc, the audiobook hides a major ace up its sleeve. You see, it's one of the very few children's audiobooks read by a celebrity – and that's Rachel McAdams. The best part? Even though the story is set in the late 19th century, it still hits home with teens and tweens as it's embedded with timeless values such as gratitude, optimism, and hard work.

Source

18. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser

The Plot: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street narrates the story of a biracial family with five kids and three pets who reside in a lively two-story brownstone in Harlem. Things take a turn for the worse when "The Beiderman," a.k.a. their landlord, decides not to renew their lease 11 days before Christmas. The kids do anything to make him reconsider (they even write him a haiku). In true Scrooge fashion, they manage to melt his heart just in time for the holidays. Now, they can continue calling the brownstone their "home."

Why It's Worth It: Unlike most family novels that take place amidst a tsunami of trouble-free parents, this one focuses on today's metropolitan way of living, where shrinking spaces and culturally diverse communities are commonplace. And, to be honest, that's its charm as it gets kids acquainted with the new urban status quo, with an emphasis on its innocent side.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

  • The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue

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19. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

The Plot: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow tells the story of Morrigan Crow, a social outcast who's blamed for the misfortunes of her town and doomed to die the night she turns 11. Fortunately, moments before her cursed fate catches up with her, a mysterious man named Jupiter North plucks Morrigan and whisks her away to the magical city of Nevermoor. There, she competes against hundreds of uber-talented children for a spot in the elite Wundrous Society.

Why It's Worth It: Even though many would compare the trilogy to Harry Potter, the Nevermoor fantasy series is in a league of its own. That's because the writer's quirky humor, clever plotting, and theatrical elements make the plot stand out from the rest. The story is also jam-packed with positive messages, with the most important being that everyone comes to this world for a reason – even if they don't know what it is.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow

  • Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow

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20. Winterhouse by Ben Guterson

The Plot: Winterhouse follows the story of Elizabeth Somers, an 11-year-old girl who lost her parents in an accident when she was very, very young, and now lives with her spiteful aunt and uncle. After they receive an all-expenses-paid vacation for Christmas, they ship Elizabeth off to the Winterhouse hotel. There, she is drawn by a mysterious word puzzle book and embarks on a spooky journey alongside her new friend, Freddy. The two solve all the riddles and try to break the curse that haunts the Winterhouse hotel.

Why It's Worth It: Between its building suspense, escapist vibe, and sharp turn from innocent to dark, this audiobook is bound to monopolize your teen's interest from the very first sentence. The protagonist's struggle to fit in is relatable to what most teens and tweens feel these days. Plus, the puzzles sprinkled throughout the story could sharpen your kid's wits without them even noticing. So, all in all, it's a worthwhile listen.

If you liked this children's audiobook, you may also enjoy:

  • The Secrets of Winterhouse (Book 2)

  • The Winterhouse Mysteries (Book 3)

Which of these kids' audiobooks are a perfect fit for your plugged-in bookworm? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Kyriaki Chatzi

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    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyriaki Chatzi 

      3 weeks ago

      @Riley

      Hey, fellow teacher! :)

      Well, Edward Tuane sure is an excellent choice for classrooms read-alouds.

      The story is not only engaging, but the narration and the background sounds make it all the more captivating.

      Trust me, you won't regret it!

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyriaki Chatzi 

      3 weeks ago

      @Lea

      Hi, Lea! :) The same applies for me and my students when it comes to most of the books on this list.

      I hope you find something in this round-up to switch his routine up a bit and spare yourself the dejavus.

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyriaki Chatzi 

      3 weeks ago

      @Peggy Woods

      Hey, Peggy. I hope you are doing great!

      Well, in my experience, audiobooks can indeed spark kids' interest in literature (sometimes) more than books as they actively engage their most dynamic sense, which is hearing.

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyriaki Chatzi 

      3 weeks ago

      @Paige

      Hey, Paige. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

      Both the narration and the plot are captivating.

    • profile image

      Riley M. 

      3 weeks ago

      I am also a teacher and I've heard great things about The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - even though I haven't read it myself. Maybe I'll download the audio version and see if it's worth incorporating it in my curriculum next year. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Lea 

      3 weeks ago

      My son is obsessed with Little Blue Truck. He's heard it so many times, I practically know it by heart by now.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I say that anything that inspires a love of reading is a good thing, and if audio books do the trick, then go for it!

    • profile image

      Paige 

      3 months ago

      We recently downloaded The Vanderbeekers. It was really good! Perhaps we'll give Nevermoor a try now. Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions!

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