Audiobooks: Great sounding middle-grade books

Heard any great middle-grade books lately?

If not, you’re in for a treat. With long road trips to vacation destinations looming ahead, or just endless days filled with proclamations of “I’m BORED!”, summer is the perfect time to get hooked on great middle-grade audiobooks.

High angle view of a boy listening to music on headphones

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Listening on the road: Audiobooks are a great alternative for kids who feel carsick while reading. They also make a nice change from DVD’s and endless games of “Bumper Stumpers”.  You can listen to audiobooks on your car CD player or they can be uploaded as playlists on your middle grader’s MP3 player.

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Listening at home: Audiobooks can help augment your middle grader’s everyday book-reading too. Listening to the first book in a series, for instance, can encourage kids to check out later volumes in print form too. Audiobooks can also encourage kids to try books at a higher reading level. Once they’ve heard a book read out loud, it may encourage them to seek out other books by the same author.

Listening at the library: Check out your local library’s audiobook selection. Often, popular titles are more readily available in audio than in print form. Some libraries allow users to download the sound file directly from the Internet. It really doesn’t get any easier than that!

Oh, wait a sec. Yes, it does…

Listening on the go: Ask your school or local librarian whether they have PLAYAWAYS. These self-contained MP3 players are pre-loaded with an audiobook. Great to grab-and-go.

Everything old is new again: Even old favorites seem new-to-you when read by a great narrator.  The HARRY POTTER series by JK Rowling, read by Jim Dale, A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle, read by the author and A SINGLE SHARD by Linda Sue Park, read by Graeme Malcolm, are all oldies but goodies. (Click on the image to hyperlink to a sound sample.)


Newer titles like WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, read by Cynthia Holloway, OPERATION YES by Sara Lewis Holmes, read by Jessica Almasy and GOOD MASTERS!  SWEET LADIES!: VOICES FROM A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE by Laura Amy Schlitz, read by Christina Moore and a full cast, are also great bets.


A few more top picks from our Mixed-Up authors:

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN by Gertrude Chandler Warner, read by Phyllis Newman

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson, read by Robert Sean Leonard

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl, read by Eric Idle

THE GET RICH QUICK CLUB by Dan Gutman, read by Angela Goethals

THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo, read by Graeme Malcolm

THE RED BLAZER GIRLS series by by Michael D. Beil, read by Tai Alexandra Ricci

NORY RYAN’S SONG by Patricia Reilly Giff, read by Susan Lynch, and the sequel, MAGGIE’S DOOR read by Fionnula Flanagan

BUD, NOT BUDDY by Christopher Paul Curtis, read by James Avery

And there’s more!: Here are a few more lists to get you started…

The Booksource

Renaissance Reading


WHAT ABOUT YOU?  Have you listened to any great middle-grade audiobooks lately? Care to share?

**Oh, and don’t forget to enter our second summer giveaway – one lucky reader will win three amazing middle-grade books!

Hélène Boudreau listened to the whole HARRY POTTER series (close to 100 hours worth!) while training for her latest half marathon walk, and appreciated Jim Dale’s company and fabulous narration through it all. You can visit her at

Helene Boudreau
  1. i love to listen on audiobooks while travelling on a bus, i could learn a lot from it while travelling .’*

  2. Great idea! My 12-year-old daughter will love this.

  3. Audiobooks are a great way for me to keep up with my MG reading list. Following Helene’s great suggestion, I download them to my iPod and listen while I take my daily walk.

    It’s a two fer!

  4. We’re huge fans of audiobooks in the car! Here are some of our family favorites:

    The PERCY JACKSON series by Rick Riordan
    GREGOR THE OVERLANDER series by Suzanne Collins
    ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine
    ALLIE FINKEL series by Meg Cabot

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  5. So many great additional recs! Thanks for contributing, everyone. 🙂

  6. I also love THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is ready by Levar Burton (from Reading Rainbow and ROOTS). It’s a great historical fiction. Wonderful for the family to listen to in the car. The history aspect kept my husband interested.

  7. This is a great idea, plus it gives me new books to add to my to-be-read list!

  8. Not sure it’s considered MG or YA or somewhere in between, but THE GRAVEYARD BOOK was a great one to listen to. My kids and I also loved CLEMENTINE.

  9. Thank you for this great article, Helene. I actually haven’t listened to an audiobook yet, but think it’s a fantastic idea. I often read to my girls during long car rides, but it would be nice to sit back and enjoy the story along with them (my throat usually hurts after a few chapters from talking loud enough for them to hear me).

  10. For anyone who has to spend a lot of time in the car driving their kids around, audio books is a great way to “read.” There is also the pleasure of hearing a story out loud. Audio books are a delight. Thanks for the list, Helene. I want to try some of these out.

  11. We recently listened to Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater (read by Daniel Pinkwater), downloaded free from his site. And now my son wants to own a copy of the book (just in case you think giving it away doesn’t result in sales.) We also like the Henry Huggins book, read by Neil Patrick Harris.

  12. My kids and I have been listening to Neil Gaiman read his stories from his Audio Collection. The stories sound completely different when he reads them. Another favorite is E.B. White reading The Trumpet of the Swan. Hearing it in his voice helped me catch some of the humor I missed when I read it to myself.