Traveling over the holidays? Planning to give an Audible subscription to someone as a gift and want to recommend some good titles?
We’ve got some favorite audiobooks for you: books that are performed by a skilled narrator, books that translate well to this format, and books that just make great family listening.
Many of these titles can be accessed through your local library–perfect for holiday road trips. Definitely check your library first because audiobooks can be expensive. Some of these narrators/versions are, unfortunately, only available via Audible. Those are noted below.
You can purchase an individual Audible title as a gift for someone: the app itself is free. However, if a given book is quite costly (like the Chesterton one below), a 1-month membership is a cheaper option. Did you know you can give a gift membership to Audible for just 1 month (or more)? It might be far more cost effective in the long run. This time of year, there are also many Audible sales.
Fine print: We are participants in the Amazon LLC affiliate program; purchases you make through affiliate links like the one above and the ones below may earn us a commission. These links include links to Audible membership and books. Read more.
Remember: check your local library’s electronic resources. You can access some fantastic audiobooks performed by professionals for free. (Librivox is also free, but we’ve found that the quality of the narrators varies extensively.) We are only recommending audiobooks by narrators we’ve actually listened to!
Titles include Overdrive (library) links and Audible links (affiliate links) where applicable.
Audiobooks for All Ages
- Winnie-the-Pooh Stories: Betsy prefers the version done by the cast that includes Stephen Fry and Judy Dench; Hayley lobbies for the version done by Alan Bennett. Which one do you prefer? (Audible versions available) (Overdrive available)
- Beatrix Potter Tales. Even without the pictures, these are delightful stories! Virginia Leishman is a good choice for narrator, as is Gary Bond. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. We recommend Jim Weiss or Johnny Morris as narrators. (Audible link — Johnny Morris; Overdrive link — Johnny Morris; Overdrive link — Jim Weiss)
- James Herriot’s Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Animal Tales, narrated by Jim Dale. 1.5 hours of adorable warm fuzzies in story form. Ends with a Christmas story! (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- The Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright, narrated by Pamela Dillman. A classic series that will remind contemporary readers of The Penderwicks or The Vanderbeekers. Lots of fun–start with The Saturdays. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary, narrated by Neil Patrick Harris. 2.5 hours of warm-hearted family fun that will even cause parents to chuckle. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman, narrated by Willard E. Lape, Jr. Some books beg to be read aloud; this is one of them. Rollicking good fun (and a starred review from Redeemed Reader!). (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, narrated by Cherry Jones. If you haven’t heard Cherry Jones read these, you are missing out! We recommend Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy as our two favorite Little House books. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, narrated by Michael York (this is part of a series in which each Narnia volume is narrated by a different British actor/actress–it’s outstanding!). 4.5 hours for this volume. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman, narrated by Barbara Caruso and three others. Having more than one narrator is essential for this short volume of poetry; this group of four narrators brings Fleischman’s poetry to life in a way that children will thoroughly enjoy. A nice short one at less than half an hour. (Audible link — different narrators) (Overdrive link)
Audiobooks for Ages 8 and up
(Younger children can listen, too, but they may not follow the storylines as well)
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, narrated by C. J. Critt. Betsy’s family listens to this version every year! less than 2 hours long. Note: there is some profanity in this book; read our discussion! (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- The Railway Children by E. Nesbit, narrated by Virginia Leishman. Audio is a great way to experience this classic children’s story. 6 hours, 42 minutes. (Audible link) (other narrators on Overdrive)
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, narrated by Nick Offern. HILARIOUS. Offern’s dry, deadpan delivery had us giggling at Tom’s antics. 7 hours, 52 minutes. Audible exclusive, but other narrators are available on Overdrive. (Audible link) (other narrators on Overdrive)
- The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, narrated by Tim Curry or Martin Jarvis or Jim Dale or Jim Weiss or …. Lots of great choices! (Audible versions) (Overdrive link)
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, narrated by Janet Song. This is a truly lovely audio experience, but do check the book out from the library so you can see some of the illustrations. Approximately 5 hours. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Ingliss. We’re partial to the Rob Ingliss narration, but it isn’t available on Overdrive. Still, there are some good possibilities on Overdrive, too. Approximately 11 hours. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers, read by Jonathan Rogers. A Redeemed Reader favorite, these books come to life in Rogers’s Southern accent. Highly recommended. Audible exclusive, so these are a good choice for those gift membership credits! (Audible link)
Audiobooks for Ages 10 and up
- Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, narrated by Rachel McAdams. This recording had us in stitches! 9 hours, 22 minutes. (Audible link) (other narrators on Overdrive)
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, narrated by Lynne Thigpen. Note: this has some disturbing parts in it related to racial conflicts, but it’s a terrific story. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, narrated by Hope Davis. Read our review of this book. 6.5 hours. Note: there is also a version narrated by the author, but we haven’t listened to that one. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, narrated by Tom Stechschulte. Bittersweet, like so many animal stories. ~14 hours long (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, narrated by David Baker and Cynthia Bishop. Two narrators is ideal for this poignant tale told in two voices. A good ending and much food for thought, especially during this time of the year. Read our review for more information. 2 hours, 41 minutes. (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- The Fellowship of the Ring (and others in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) by J. R. R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Ingliss. 19 hours just for book one! These are a treat to listen to as a family, especially if you have a long road trip planned. (Audible link) (Overdrive versions — they don’t have the Rob Ingliss version)
Audiobooks for Ages 12 and up
- The Complete Father Brown Collection by G. K. Chesterton, narrated by Stephen Scalon. 7 Father Brown novels; 40+ hours long! (Audible link) (Overdrive link)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, narrated by Thandie Newton. 19 hours. Audible exclusive, but Juliet Stevenson is another talented narrator, and her version is available via Overdrive. Worth a check! (Audible link with Thandie Newton) (Overdrive link)
- Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, narrated by Chad Lowe. Moving story with terrific truth and story, this is a good choice for families with teens who like to read/discuss books together. Note: some violence in this book. Recommended for ages 15 and up. 11.5 hours long. (Audible link)(Overdrive link)
These are all excellent and prolific narrators we watch for. We’re including some specific titles that stand out in our memory, but everything we’ve heard from these narrators is outstanding.
Please note: we are not recommending all the of the books these narrators have performed, simply noting that they are talented and, when we have a choice, we will choose their performance for a book we want to read over an unknown narrator. They have narrated many more books than we have listened to, including some we might choose NOT to listen to because of the book in question.
- John McDonough: the Poppy books by Avi, the Freddie the Pig books by Walter Brooks, the horse books by Marguerite Henry, Homer Price and The Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey, and more are some of our favorites. (Audible books available; Overdrive books available)
- Martin Jarvis: a British accent means there are many British favorites in this list! Look for the P.G. Wodehouse books, Dickens books, and other British classics like The Wind in the Willows. (Audible books available; Overdrive books available)
- Jim Dale: a master at creating different voices for the characters in his Irish accent, some of his best include the Harry Potter books, James Herriot stories (mentioned above), and Around the World in 80 Days. (Audible books available; Overdrive books available)
- Jim Weiss: a popular storyteller with good reason. We’ve mentioned him above, but other titles worth checking out are Come On, Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody and Rascal by Sterling North, (Audible books available; Overdrive books available)
- Nadia May: a lovely British accent and a vast library of Christian classics and Jane Austen titles (among other works) make her a narrator to know. (Audible books available; Overdrive books available; The Pilgrim’s Progress on Christian Audio)