I think the car is an underrated space for downtime. Even if I’m driving, even if traffic is a nightmare, I use music to turn it into a happy place. On family trips growing up, I remember plugging into my Walkman and mouthing along with my songs for miles. (I realize now that this was probably hugely annoying. Sorry, family!)
I think Doodlebug uses the car to decompress, too, but she’s an audiobook girl. Not just for long trips, either. We listen while we’re driving around town, and actually sometimes at home if she’s bored or not feeling well. I think it’s a great strategy for carving out a little alone-but-not-alone time, and I’ve come to enjoy our rolling storytime. Usually. There are some narrators I don’t care for, but the following are all kid and parent approved!
The Cat in The Hat and Other Dr. Seuss Favorites and Green Eggs and Ham and Other Servings of Dr. Seuss
John Cleese! Billy Crystal! David Hyde Pierce! And more – these are two fun collections for younger listeners, with great narrators. Each set includes about ten complete stories.
The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne, read by the author
Good news – these will last you for months. There are currently over 50 books in the series, and we have heard them ALL. I love the concept of a time-traveling tree house, I love the Arthurian legend tie-ins, and I love the historical facts you absorb by osmosis. I just worry that Jack and Annie are going to end up traumatized by all the catastrophes they’ve witnessed.
The Roscoe Riley Rules series by Katherine Applegate, read by Jared Goldsmith
First-grader Roscoe greets you at the beginning of each book from time-out. The stories explain how he got there. Funny and cute.
The Pain and the Great One series by Judy Blume, read by Kathleen McInerney
Told in alternating chapters by the Pain (the little brother) and the Great One (the big sister), these four books are full of everyday worries and crises that kids will definitely relate to. Judy Blume herself reads the final word from Fluzzy, their cat.
The Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker, read by Jessica Almasy
My personal favorite. Sometimes I’m wary of audiobooks because I don’t like hearing the reader’s voice take over my own version of the character, but Almasy is perfect here. Clementine is the kind of kid who always tries to do the right thing but ends up messing up anyhow. So far our library has only had the first five books in the series on audio, but I just checked and the last ones are on order, WOOHOO!
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, read by Cherry Jones
I devoured this series in fourth grade. Doodlebug is less of a fan so we’ve only listened to the first few, but they’re really well done. I especially like how they’ve included some of the songs and Pa’s violin music.
The All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor, read by Suzanne Toren
Another favorite from when I was growing up, about a large Jewish family in New York City in the early 20th century. Warning: these will make you SO hungry. All the meals and market trips are described in loving detail.
The Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald, read by Kate Forbes
These are just fun, again with realistic kids having realistic problems. One of Doodlebug’s favorites. There’s also a separate series about Judy’s younger brother, Stink, which are good too. Bonus: the book where Judy gets into solving mysteries may lead you to Nancy Drew.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale
Well, of course I wasn’t going to leave this one out! We are almost done reading the series and I’m already getting sad, but in the car we’re only about halfway through Goblet of Fire. I’m glad we can make the magic last a little longer.
Do you have favorite audiobooks? Do tell — we are always looking for more. Happy listening!