It’s that time of year again when vacations are being planned and parents are preparing for long car trips. If you’re hoping to avoid the endless barrage of are-we-there-yets, check out this selection of audiobooks in our collection that are fun for the whole family to listen to in the car. Please note: some of the selections below may be better suited to older children.
The Collected Stories of Winnie-the-Pooh
by A.A. Milne
Read by Stephen Fry, Judi Dench, Geoffrey Palmer, Jane Harrocks, Michael Williams, Finty Williams, Robert Daws, Steven Webb, Sandi Toksvig.
Summary: In this superb full-cast dramatization, Michael Williams and Judi Dench narrate 20 stories about Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. The tales are divided into four segments: “Pooh Goes Visiting,” “Piglet Meets a Hefflalump,” “The House at Pooh Corner/Tiger Comes to the Forest,” and “Pooh Invents a New Game.” Stephen Fry voices Pooh and recites the many hums and rhymes to the accompaniment of piano tunes, which also separate the stories. Steven Webb is a perfect Christopher Robin. Jane Horrock’s rendition of Piglet captures his loyalty and friendship to one silly old bear. Geoffrey Palmer’s Eeyore is marvelously melancholy, while Robert Daws’s Rabbit is energetic, and Sandi Toksvig’s Tigger is pleasantly loud and irritating. Besides narrating, Williams is Owl, and Dench is Kanga to Finty Williams’s Roo. Perfectly nuanced sound effects include bird songs, bees humming, the crunch of feet in the snow, branches breaking, and more. Milne has written some of the loveliest prose and poetry in children’s literature, and this extraordinary recording makes it live again for today’s listeners.
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle
Read by Hope Davis
Summary: Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.
The Chronicles of Narnia Series
by C.S. Lewis
Read by various narrators
Summary of Book 1, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie— step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg
Read by Jan Miner
Summary: When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run “from” somewhere, she wants to run “to” somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along. Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams
Read by Stephen Fry
Summary: Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel.
The Westing Game
by Ellen Raskin
Read by Jeff Woodman
Summary: Samuel G. Westing’s 16 heirs are elated to find that one of them stands to inherit a cool $200 million & shocked to learn that one of them is his murderer. Paired up & furnished with a set of clues, each scrambles to expose the murderer in order to claim the money.
Peter and the Starcatchers
by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Read by Jim Dale
Summary: Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.
The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
Read by the author
Summary: Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.
by Louis Sachar
Read by Kerry Beyer
Summary: As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a sense of himself.
The Hunger Games Series
by Suzanne Collins
Read by various narrators
Summary of Book 1, The Hunger Games: In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place.
by Scott Westerfeld
Read by Alan Cumming
Summary: In the first installment of Scott Westerfeld’s alternative history Leviathan trilogy, the year is 1914 and the world is embroiled in a global war. However, this war is fought by giant airships and monstrous, walking death machines.
Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Read by the author
Summary: Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
All summaries from catalog.ccls.org.