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Audiobooks have been around for years – you may even remember listening to a story on audiotape or CD when you were a child. While these were great at the time, they weren’t the most portable of items, restricting where and when you could listen to your favourite tales.
With Audible, however, a child can have many audiobooks in the palm of their hand simply by downloading the app on an electronic device. Audible works on a subscription basis and for just £7.99 a month you get one 'credit' each month to spend on an audiobook of your choice (for you or the kids!). Don't worry if you want more than one though - you can purchase additional titles on the app. It’s easy to get started with Audible, and you can even enjoy a free 30-day trial to see if it’s right for you. Find out more here.
But with so many audiobooks to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which are the best ones for your kids. That’s where we come in. We’ve scoured the Mumsnet forums and spent hours researching fun audiobooks for families and children so you can choose the very best ones for enjoying at bedtime or taking the boredom out of long car journeys.
Here are the best audiobooks for kids, all available from Audible.
1. Best overall children’s audiobook: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Price: £6.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“We did this [listened to an audiobook before bed] and had the entire set of Roald Dahl and Paddington.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Firkinhavinalaugh)
The little brown bear Paddington is one of the most famous children’s literary characters of all time, and for good reason. He’s kind-hearted, cheery and partial to a snack or two, albeit one that he likes to keep in his hat!
Originally written in 1958 by Michael Bond, A Bear Called Paddington was the first book of 34 in the Paddington series to hit Audible. Read by British actor Stephen Fry in his soothing, mellifluous voice, this is the ideal book to help both young and old drift off to sleep effortlessly.
- Length: 2 hrs and 39 mins
- Narrated by: Stephen Fry
2. Best funny children’s audiobook: Diary of The Killer Cat by Anne Fine
Price: £6 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“The Diary of The Killer Cat by Anne Fine, read by Jack Dee. It's very funny and a good one for a long car journey.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user mycarscallednev)
At just 26 minutes, Diary of a Killer Cat is perfect for children that are better with short, self-contained stories rather than a chaptered book.
It’s an entertaining story told through the eyes of Tuffy, a cat whose young owner Ellie is horrified to find that he keeps bringing animal ‘gifts’ home with him after a night’s hunting. Narrated by Jack Dee as Tuffy, the Penguin audiobook is told in his trademark wry, humorous style that elevates the audio.
- Length: 26 mins
- Narrated by: Jack Dee
3. Best adventure audiobook for children: How to Train Your Dragon Collection (Book 1-3) by Cressida Cowell
Price: £21.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“We listen to audiobooks, which have magical child-soothing properties. We've done the entire How To Train Your Dragon series that way, which I would heartily recommend (read very well by David Tennant).” (Tried-and-tested by Mumsnet user FindoGask)
The How to Train Your Dragon Collection by Cressida Cowell takes all the traditional elements of a rip-roaring adventure story - dragons, vikings and larger-than-life characters and throws them all in a pot, alongside some cracking narration from David Tennant, who older children and adults may recognise as Dr Who.
We’ve chosen the audiobook collection here from Hachette, which covers books one to three of a larger set, but don’t let that worry you as all of the audiobooks are available from Audible to download if your kids like the first lot.
These books seem to span the ages too. We’ve seen positive reviews from parents of five-year-olds, but also from kids aged 11 and 12, so the series should get a lot of mileage if you’ve got a larger family.
- Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins
- Narrated by: David Tennant
4. Best kids' audiobook series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling
Price: £17.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
"My little one uses Audible through Alexa and is obsessed with listening to stories now. She also finds reading hard. She got really into Harry Potter (we watched the first movie first) so we listened to them all in the first lockdown." (Recommended by Mumsnet user thethoughtfox)
The Harry Potter audiobook series is read by Stephen Fry, who seems to revel in the unusual lexicon of the Harry Potter universe, pronouncing even the strangest character names with glee.
There are seven audiobooks in the series, with the first three being suitable for children aged five-plus and the latter audiobooks (books four to seven) more suited to an older child audience as darker themes are explored.
Fans have loved the magical world of Harry Potter for decades, and these fantastic stories are sure to keep the family entertained for hours, whether listening for the first time or the fifth.
- Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
- Narrated by: Stephen Fry
5. Best audiobook for young children: Winnie the Pooh Complete BBC Collection by A. A. Milne
Price: £17.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“The Winnie the Pooh stories are lovely - we have them read by Alan Bennett. DH and I still enjoy Winnie the Pooh even though the 'children' have all grown up and left home!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user IthinkIsawahairbrushbackthere)
The Winnie the Pooh stories are classics for the whole family to enjoy. Alan Bennett’s voice adds a warm glow to the narrative, making the series a great bundle to snuggle up on the sofa and listen to with your children.
This abridged audiobook has 16 stories spread over just under four hours, allowing you to nip in and out as much as you need to. We think it’s ideal for rushed bedtimes with the little ones.
- Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
- Narrated by: Alan Bennett
6. Best audiobook for the whole family: The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf
Price: £11.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“Me and DD recently listened to The Boy at the Back of the Class. Really lovely story about the refugee crisis. DD is eight and thoroughly enjoyed it.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user FrivolousPancake)
The Boy at the Back of the Class is written by Onjali Q. Rauf, a bestselling author who founded a women’s rights organisation to prevent women and girl trafficking to and from the UK. The story is hopeful, told from the point of view of a nine-year-old-boy who attempts to befriend a boy called Ahmet who has escaped a war-torn country as a refugee, and now sits at the back of the class alone.
The book comes highly recommended on our Mumsnet forum and Audible for its simple yet effective way of communicating the truth about social issues without preaching. A must-hear for those who want to educate their children on world events in an entertaining way.
- Length: 5 hrs and 6 mins
- Narrated by: Imogen Wilde
7. Best young adult audiobook: Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Price: £22.09 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“DD2 (10, Y6) read it and loved it. Her teacher gave it to her as a Christmas gift. It has been one of DD1 (13)'s favourite books since Year 6.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user ByTheSea)
“This book was on the book list at my DS's school. We listened to it on audiobook when he was 10. While he squirmed at some parts, it is a fantastic book in all other aspects. He has since finished the series and has a greater understanding of racism. It also really made him think and ask questions. What he learned far outweighed the more mature content in my eyes.” (Tried-and-tested by Mumsnet user dogwood)
Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses explores the complex romantic relationship between a female dark-skinned ruling class (Cross) teenager and a ‘Nought’ boy, a member of the ‘colourless’ underclass.
The audiobook is considered to be a modern take on Romeo and Juliet with its themes of prejudice, forbidden love and distrust providing a backdrop to terrorist events. A book for the older children in your life to explore mature themes in a safe way, but be warned, there is a sex scene that divides parents over the age suitability.
- Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
- Narrated by: Syan Blake, Paul Chequer
8. Best audiobook for preschoolers: Zog by Julia Donaldson
Price: £4.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
If you want a preschool princess tale that shies away from the typical 'maiden saved by a true love' story, this audiobook is the one for you.
Julia Donaldson’s princess is feisty, career-driven and independent. Read brilliantly by Imelda Staunton, who kids may recognise as evil Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter, the audiobook comes with a read along version of the story to help your youngsters with their reading ability.
At just under half an hour, it’s short but sweet and is the right length for a bedtime story, but you may want something longer for a lengthy journey.
- Length: 28 mins
- Narrated by: Imelda Staunton
9. Best audiobook for older children: Northern Lights, His Dark Materials Trilogy Book 1 by Philip Pullman
Price: £31.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
"Audiobooks are brilliant. I never used them, but DD has dyslexia and they allow her to access the books her friends are reading. She still physically reads, but can't always access the books her friends are talking about, so this way she’s discovered Harry Potter, His Dark Materials and other books she loves." (Recommended by Mumsnet user DIKateFleming)
Written and narrated by Sir Philip Pullman, Northern Lights inhabits the world of Lyra, a girl who lives amongst scholars of a college in Oxford. With a daemon by her side, she and her fearsome uncle explore icy lands to free stolen children from their torturous work in the north.
An audiobook for older children, exploring the greatest battle of all - good vs evil with religious subtexts that may be too deep for a younger audience.
- Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
- Narrated by: Philip Pullman
10. Best entertaining audiobook for children: George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Price: £18 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“When I was little I loved my Roald Dahl tapes, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox... all brilliant!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user LFH1990)
We could have picked any of Roald Dahl’s classic audiobooks, from the Twits to Matilda, but in the end we plumped for this Derek Jacobi narrated tale, which has gained great reviews on Audible for his excellent timing and voices.
George’s Marvellous Medicine is a story about a boy who makes a medicine to cure his horrid grandma from her, well, horridness. Being Roald Dahl, though, the plot doesn’t quite go to plan, which should give your children plenty of belly laughs. Ideal for passing time on car journeys.
- Length: 1 hr and 35 mins
- Narrated by: Derek Jacobi
11. Best short children’s audiobook: First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams
Price: £1.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“We have The First Hippo on the Moon which is a shorter David Walliams book, I am sure there are a couple more too. My five-year-old loves them.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Mumofo)
At just eight minutes, it’s easy to overlook this story, but The First Hippo on the Moon is a fun audiobook with language suitable for those aged three and above.
Kids will adore the funny voices David Walliams adopts for each character, whereas parents will be pleased at the length (a quick book for easy entertainment) and the comeuppance of wealthy Hercules, whose selfishness costs him dearly.
- Length: 8 mins
- Narrated by: David Walliams
12. Best spooky audiobook for kids: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Price: £11.89 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“The Graveyard Book is good and now a Y7 set text in some schools.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user ShakeaHettyFeather)
Neil Gaiman is one of the most respected contemporary authors of our time, bridging the gap between fantasy, horror and sci-fi for adults and children. The Graveyard Book is one of his children’s tales, aimed at kids around eight and above.
It follows the life of a toddler called Bod whose parents are killed by hitmen, leaving him to be brought up by spirits living in the graveyard across the road. Will he survive until adulthood?
Spooky, sweet and uplifting with Gaiman’s own narration bringing his authentic writing to life.
- Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
- Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
13. Best educational audiobook for kids: Absolutely Everything! by Christopher Lloyd
Price: £12.42 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
This non-fiction audiobook, written and read by world history author Christopher Lloyd spans 14 billion years of natural history, explaining the creation of earth, the life on it and the evolution of the first humans all the way through to modern humanity and the challenges we face today, such as pollution and pandemics.
This book is suitable for all, aimed at an audience aged seven and above, but will hold the fascination of adults too with its fun takes on heavy subjects.
- Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
- Narrated by: Christopher Lloyd
14. Best audiobook for toddlers: Peppa Pig Bedtime Stories
Price: £9.99 or one Audible credit | Buy now from Audible
“My three-year-old loves the Peppa Pig ones. You can get [them] on audible. They are short but he can listen again and again!” (Tried-and-tested by Mumsnet user Vijac)
Peppa Pig is a staple in any under five’s life. Parents will empathise with long-suffering Mummy Pig who deals with two kids, a job and a know-it-all husband. Kids will be able to relate to Peppa and George, who are always full of mischief.
The audiobook, which is narrated by John Sparkes, consists of 10 short stories which are just the right size for bedtime. Be warned, though, the theme tune plays after every story, which may just perk the little ones back up again.
- Length: 1 hr and 7 mins
- Narrated by: John Sparkes
What to look for in an audiobook
A well-chosen audiobook can entertain and educate your child, bringing them additional knowledge of the world around them while immersing them in a realm created just for them. To make sure you choose the right Audible children’s books for your loved ones, consider these factors:
- Length: If your child is younger, or has just been introduced into the world of audiobooks, we recommend starting with a shorter audiobook at bedtime, which requires a lower concentration span - useful for when your child is tired. Some longer audiobooks are chapterised, allowing your child to listen to a small section each night. While chapters tend to be short, these narratives are designed for older children who can retain information from a longer book over a larger time period without the need for recapping.
- Narrator and music: Is the narrator and the accompanying music bright, cheery and excitable or are they calming and soothing? Choosing the latter for a nighttime audiobook can help your child nod off to sleep at bedtime, but may not be suited to a road trip. A loud, boisterous book, such as those read by David Walliams are not great for nighttime as they can excite your child when you’re trying to get them to sleep.
- Age suitability: Children are very resilient to new concepts when young, but ensuring that the concepts are age-appropriate is important. Some of the audiobooks we’ve mentioned above feature themes that may upset a younger child, so do bear this in mind when choosing a book. Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, for example, has references to racism and even a sex scene at one point so it’s not for the littlest ones. If unsure, read the reviews left by other parents to gain a better understanding of the text before downloading.
- Story themes: A story’s themes can also influence a child’s enjoyment of a story. Older children are likely to have grown out of talking dinosaur and princess stories, whereas younger kids will want more. Choosing a theme that plays into your child’s loves, hopes and hobbies will engage them much more easily than a story that has nothing in common with your child.
How does Audible work?
Audible is the best audiobook app for kids who like to be on the move. All you need is a device that is compatible with the app (most mobile phones, tablets and Google Home and Alexa devices work) allowing you to hear stories wherever you are.
Once the app is downloaded, you register with Audible and can choose to buy books using card or PayPal payments or via subscription (£7.99 a month). If you choose the latter, you are given one credit on a monthly basis to buy audiobooks. Each audiobook costs one credit.
Once you’ve chosen your audiobook, you just download it to your device to listen to it. Audible uses technology that keeps your place in the book, which is handy for longer stories.
Does Audible have children’s books?
Audible has a catalogue of millions of books, including children’s audiobooks by bestselling and up and coming authors. You’ll find a wide selection of children’s audiobooks for all ages, so whether you’re looking for a good audiobook for a nine-year-old or a series for a toddler, there’s something here for everyone.
What is the best audiobook for kids?
Each listener is different, so what appeals to one child may not appeal to another. When choosing the best audiobook for your kids, consider their age, the things they like and dislike and their attention span.
There’s no point in buying a huge chaptered book with mature themes if your child is a toddler who is likely to get bored and not understand the language of the story well enough to follow it. If you’re really struggling to decide, opting for a classic like the Paddington Series that has charmed children and adults for decades is a good, reliable choice.
How we chose our recommendations
At Mumsnet we consider ourselves trusted experts. We understand the importance of real-life recommendations when purchasing a product. Which is why we headed to the Mumsnet forum to find out which audiobooks our Mumsnet users recommend.
As well as Mumsnet reviews, we’ve also poured through hundreds of other reviews and recommendations from literary websites and on Audible to see which audiobooks have been recommended by the parents there. By researching these products from reputable sites we can trust, we know that any information we provide is honest and reflects the true thoughts and feelings of consumers just like you.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.