Audiobooks for Winter Vacation 

Is your family taking a long drive this winter? Consider listening to an audiobook together, letting it take you on an adventure, laugh together or learn about something new. Try downloading e-audiobooks through your public library for free; check if your library uses OverDrive, Axis 360 or Hoopla Digital.

“Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood”

By Trevor Noah (Audible; 8.75 hours; $24.95; ages 13 and up). Comedian Trevor Noah narrates his memoir, sharing his harsh experiences growing up in South Africa in the final years of apartheid and the chaotic aftermath as the son of a white Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother. Listeners get to hear Noah tell these stories in his South African accented English and several other South African languages. He is engaging, funny and relatable, while also delivering thoughtful and perceptive social criticism about race, gender and class.


By William Steig, narrated by Peter Thomas (Listening Library; 3.75 hours; $19.93; ages 6-9). As Dominic leaves home in search of adventure, young listeners will be captivated by this delightful hero’s journey. Dominic bumbles his way through his journey with curiosity, goodwill and a solid sense of right and wrong as he makes friends, helps others in need and battles the Doomsday Gang.

“Dory Fantasmagory” 

By Abby Hanlon, narrated by Suzy Jackson (Recorded Books; 55 min.; $9.09; ages 4-9). Dory (called Rascal by her family) wants to play with her big brother and sister, but they complain that she’s a pest. Narrator Suzy Jackson captures Dory’s 6-year-old voice, with a full range of enthusiasm and emotions. Families will recognize themselves in Dory’s attention-getting strategies, her mom’s exasperation or her siblings’ bickering. A joyful, funny celebration of imagination and resilience.


By Jason Reynolds, narrated by Guy Lockhart (Simon & Schuster Audio; 3.5 hours; $14.17; ages 9-13). BOOM! I’ve read this three times, and it still pulls me straight through each time. As one fifth-grader told me, “I loved how you feel like you’re Ghost. You get mad at someone, then forgive them. It feels like your emotions are building up until Ghost takes the shoes. Then they break when his coach brings him back to the store.” An all-time favorite.

“The Harlem Charade” 

By Natasha Tarpley, narrated by Bahni Turpin (Scholastic Audio; 7 hours; $17.49; ages 9-12). When schoolmates Jin and Alex learn that the grandfather of their new acquaintance Elvin has been attacked, the three 12-year-olds set out to discover the culprit. As they dig deeper into the mystery, they discover that a real estate mogul is threatening to convert much of the community and use a local artist’s work to his advantage. Turpin excels at bringing the variety of characters to life, helping listeners follow the complex twists and turns of this intriguing mystery.

“Like Vanessa” 

By Tami Charles, narrated by Channie Waites (Recorded Books; 7.5 hours; $20.99; ages 10-14). Eighth-grader Vanessa Martin dreams of winning her school’s beauty contest, despite feeling too fat, too dark and too shy. Her spirits soar with Vanessa Williams’ historic win as the first black Miss America. But the journey is hard — will her talented singing shine? Or will her doubts weigh her down? Channie Waites’ narration brings Vanessa’s worries, laughter and grace to life, and her voice sparkles with magnetic charm.

“The Poet X” 

By Elizabeth Acevedo (Harper; 3.5 hours; $18.24; ages 14-18). Elizabeth Acevedo shines narrating her debut novel, using her talents as an award-winning slam poet to bring passion and life to Xiomara’s story. A first-generation Dominican-American, Xiomara struggles balancing her mother’s strict Catholicism with her own desire to find her place in the world. Writing poetry helps Xio come into her own, channeling her feelings, worries and questions. Acevedo’s poetry is beautifully crafted, and the audiobook brings the passion and pacing of the rhythmic free-verse poems to life.


By Pam Ryan, narrated by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, Andrews MacLeod, and Rebecca Soler (Scholastic; 10.5 hours; $19.59; ages 10-16) Music infuses this interlocking, multilayered story set around the tumult of World War II. Themes of hope, resilience and inspiration echo (yes, pun intended) throughout three different characters’ separate stories, set in Germany, Pennsylvania and California in the 1930s and 1940s. The audiobook captures this perfectly, with multiple narrators giving a sense of each place and story.

“Toys Go Out” 

By Emily Jenkins, narrated by Melanie Martinez (Recorded Books; 2 hours; $14.95; ages 4-9). Lumphy, StingRay and Plastic are special toys belonging to the Little Girl. They go to school with her, survive a trip through the washing machine, and seek answers to life’s difficult questions. Narrator Melanie Martinez brings this endearing series alive, making young readers wonder what their toys do when they’re away.

Original article from Parents Press December 2018

Mary Ann Scheuer is a teacher librarian at Albany High School. Find more books Mary Ann recommends sharing with children at her blog, Great Kid Books,