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 haven’t listened to any middle-grade audiobooks yet, but I think I’m going to try sometime soon! I definitely want to find some good ones to use in my classroom.

  2. MG audiobooks are great because you can finish them on a relatively short trip. I recently listened to Sahara Special and just started Esperanza Rising. James Howe’s The Misfits is fun, too, because of the full-cast audio.

  3. I love audiobooks. I listen when I walk and garden. So a lot when the weather is nice. Last year I listened to the whole Charlie Bone series. Loved them. Lately I’ve been listening to more YA. But your choices are really good. I listened to a Wrinkle in Time and some of the Harry Potter books. I really enjoyed them.

  4. I am not much for audiobooks . . . my mind drifts off and suddenly I’ve missed 3 paragraphs! But my daughters love them and it’s a great way to get them to clean their rooms. They are absolutely crazy over Sharon Creech’s audio books-especially the ones with Italian accents like The Unfinished Angel, Granny Torrelli’s Soup, and Bloomability. Other audiobooks that have been hits are Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, Penderwicks, Anne of Green Gables, and Harry Potter.

  5. I recently listened to “When the Swallows Came Early” on CD and I really enjoyed the voice of the girl narrator. She seemed so perfect for the main character.

    Great article!

  6. Audio books are great. I download them from the library. I listen with my ipod and headphones in the car and when I use the treadmill.

    I see The Red Blazer Girls on the list. I just did a review a few days ago. What a great book!

  7. Many libraries subscribe to services that allow you to download audiobooks. Great if you’ve got an MP3 player or something like a Nook.

  8. We did this a lot when the kids were younger. Thank goodness for audiobooks and libraries! This is a great list, one I’m sure lots of families will appreciate since I don’t know any parent who doesn’t dread those looong car rides.

  9. Our entire family loved listening to The Indian in the Cupboard, read by the author, Lynn Reid Banks. By far my favorite book to listen to EVER.

  10. Robyn, I totally agree re: Jim Dale. He is a master!

    Kris, great point about the early elementary kids. I remember my girls following along with the Disney Princess stories and Winnie the Pooh. They had the book anthology along with the CD. Now, they REALLY love ALLIE FINKLE’S RULES FOR GIRLS. I can’t believe I didn’t mention that one! Ooops!

    Laura, I loved both HOLES and WHEN YOU REACH ME. Just perfect in every way.

    Karen, we don’t have a DVD player in the car and travel quite a bit so audiobooks have been great for long and short trips alike.

    Deb, I’m definitely going to put SCAT on my TBLT list. I’m going on a 21-hour car ride next week so thanks for the rec!

  11. A good audio book is like going to the movies when you have a narrator as talented as Jim Dale in the Harry Potter series.

  12. Audiobooks are also fabulous for early elementary kids who have a middle grade attention-span without the reading level yet. I’ve listened to the Sisters Grimm, Harry Potter, Spiderwick Chronicles, and the Lightning Thief and much more with my seven-year-old. Thanks Helene!

  13. I listened to Holes in a carride and was spellbound.

    My daughter read When You Reach Me and has listened to the audio twice so far!

  14. Thanks for this, Helene! I love audio books. A recommend from me would be SCAT by Carl Hiaasen-read by Ed Asner. Fantastic book, great voice…I can _still_ hear him reading it. It was a perfect match, imo.

  15. I’ve never listened to an audiobook version of a MG book. That is a great idea for long car rides. Thanks for the list!