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Our family loves audiobooks!
We listen to at least 20-25 hours of audio-literature a week, and have a few favorites to share! We’ve narrowed down this list to include only audiobooks that each member of our 8-person family loves. These are the stories that have kept us on the edge of our seats; the ones that make Daddy say, “Can we wait to listen to the rest until I can join you?!”
We picked stories with readers that are a pleasure to listen to. Some of the stories are 9 hours or more in length, but we guarantee you won’t tire of them. They are well-written, and well-read!
Most of these stories are works of historical fiction, which means the author brings history to life by using fictional characters to do so. So, while the main characters may not have been real, the events that take place really did happen.
If you’re an accidental homeschooler, listening to these stories are an engaging to teach history in a way your children will never forget. They provide great food for thought and discussion.
Why Audiobooks Are Better Than T.V.
If you’ve found yourself unexpectedly looking for good and healthy ways to keep your children occupied when you can’t go anywhere, audiobooks are the answer!
Studies show that audiobooks are much better for a person than watching television. Dr. Joseph Devlin, Head of Experimental Psychology at UCL said:
“Listening to a story on Audible produced greater emotional and physiological engagement than watching the scene on a screen, as measured by both heart rate and electro-dermal activity.”
Furthermore, listening to audiobooks (as opposed to reading a book) is not “cheating.”
A study done in 2016 showed no difference in retention between 3 different group of people: those who listened to a story, those who read a story, and those who read and listened at the same time.
Additionally, audiobooks allow children to multi-task, whereas watching and listening to television or a movie requires their whole focus.
With an audiobook, kids can play Lego, work on a puzzle, or draw a picture at the same time. Or, you can have them Spring-clean their bedroom and they might actually beg for something else to clean just so they can finish the story!
Without further ado, here are our favorites!
10 Audiobooks The Whole Family Will Love
Sugar, by Jewell Parker Rhodes |
Ten-year-old Sugar lives on River Road Plantation along the banks of the Mississippi River. Slavery is over, but working in the sugarcane fields all day doesn’t make her feel very free. Thankfully, Sugar knows how to make her own fun, telling stories, climbing trees, and playing with forbidden friend Billy, the plantation owner’s son. Then a group of Chinese workers arrives to help harvest the cane. Sugar wants to know everything about them – she loves the way they dress, their unfamiliar language, and, best of all, the stories they tell of dragons and emperors. Unfortunately, other folks on the plantation feel differently – they’re fearful of these new neighbors and threatened by their different customs. Sugar knows things will only get better if everyone works together, so she sets out to help the two communities realize they’re not so different after all. Sugar is the inspiring story of a strong, spirited young girl who grows beyond her circumstances and helps others work toward a brighter future.
The Bicycle Spy, by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Marcel loves riding his bicycle, whether he’s racing through the streets of his small town in France or making bread deliveries for his parents’ bakery. He dreams of someday competing in the Tour de France, the greatest bicycle race. But ever since Germany’s occupation of France began two years ago, in 1940, the race has been canceled. Now there are soldiers everywhere, interrupting Marcel’s rides with checkpoints and questioning.
Then Marcel learns two big secrets, and he realizes there are worse things about the war than a canceled race. When he later discovers that his friend’s entire family is in imminent danger, Marcel knows he can help – but it will involve taking a risky bicycle ride to pass along covert information. And when nothing ends up going according to plan, it’s up to him to keep pedaling and think quickly…because his friend, her family, and his own future hang in the balance.
Projeckt 1065, by Alan Gratz
It’s the height of World War II. Michael O’Shaunessey, son of the Irish ambassador to Nazi Germany, lives with his family in Berlin. But Michael, like his parents, is a spy. He joins the Hitler Youth, taking part in their horrific games and book burning, despising everything they stand for but using his insider knowledge to bring important information back to his parents and the British Secret Service. When Michael is tasked to find out more about Projekt 1065, a secret Nazi mission, things get even more complicated. He must prove his loyalty to the Hitler Youth at all costs – even if it means risking the lives of his family and himself.
Acclaimed author Alan Gratz delivers a heart-pounding, action-packed tale of political intrigue, betrayal, and survival.
Note: This story was a few bad words in it, and may be too intense for younger children. We’ve also listened to most of other Gratz’s other stories including Allies, Code of Honor, Grenade, Refugee, Prisoner B-3087. While the stories were absolutely incredible, we can’t heartily recommend them because the instances of cursing are more frequent and use stronger language than in Projekt 1065.
Resistance, by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference. Using forged papers and her fair features, Chaya becomes a courier and travels between the Jewish ghettos of Poland, smuggling food, papers, and even people.
Soon Chaya joins a resistance cell that runs raids on the Nazis’ supplies. But after a mission goes terribly wrong, Chaya’s network shatters. She is alone and unsure of where to go, until Esther, a member of her cell, finds her and delivers a message that chills Chaya to her core, and sends her on a journey toward an even larger uprising in the works – in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Though the Jewish resistance never had much of a chance against the Nazis, they were determined to save as many lives as possible, and to live – or die – with honor.
The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute – she sneaks out to join him.
So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan – and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity – a classic in the making.
Note: Every once in a while, the story makes not of Susan’s late friend, Becky. Some have suggested that the author was denoting a homosexual relationship without actually stating so specifically. If I had not heard this train of thought, my mind would not have gone there. Our kids have never picked up on this idea either, even though we have read and listened to this book several times. It’s one of our very favorites!
The War I Finally Won, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was – damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?
World War II continues, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, are living with their loving legal guardian, Susan, in a borrowed cottage on the estate of the formidable Lady Thorton – along with Lady Thorton herself and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded cottage is tense enough, and then, quite suddenly, Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany, moves in. A German? The occupants of the house are horrified. But other impacts of the war become far more frightening. As death creeps closer to their door, life and morality during wartime grow more complex. Who is Ada now? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?
Ada’s first story, The War That Saved My Life, won a Newbery Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award, and the Josette Frank Award in addition to appearing on multiple best-of-the-year lists. This second marvelous volume continues Ada’s powerful, uplifting story.
Note: See comment above regarding the first book in this series.
A Long Walk To Water, by Linda Sue Park
In 1985 southern Sudan is ravaged by war. Rebels and government forces battle for control, with ordinary people…people like the boy, Salva Dut…caught in the middle. When Salva’s village is attacked, he must embark on a harrowing journey that will propel him through horror and heartbreak, across a harsh desert, and into a strange new life.
Years later, in contemporary South Sudan, a girl named Nya must walk eight hours a day to fetch water. The walk is grueling, but there is unexpected hope. How these two stories intersect is told in this fascinating dual narrative, performed by David Baker and Cynthia Bishop, with the assistance of dialect coach James Achueil…who actually made the same journey across Africa when he was one of the “Lost Boys of the Sudan.”
Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis
Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit. He’s best known for having made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass, but that changes when a former slave steals money from Elijah’s friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief and discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled–a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home.
Note: Our daughter asked asked me to rate this book 10/5 because she thought it was that good, but I’m giving it a 3/5 because it’s a bit flippant about religion in some places. Also, some children may have a harder time with all the made up “words,” phrases, and African American slang Elijah and his friend Kooter use.
Bronze And Sunflower, by Cao Wenxuan
Sunflower is an only child, and when her father is sent to the rural Cadre School, she has to go with him. Her father is an established artist from the city and finds his new life of physical labor and endless meetings exhausting. Sunflower is lonely and longs to play with the local children in the village across the river. When her father tragically drowns, Sunflower is taken in by the poorest family in the village, a family with a son named Bronze. Until Sunflower joins his family, Bronze was an only child, too, and hasn’t spoken a word since he was traumatized by a terrible fire. Bronze and Sunflower become inseparable, understanding each other as only the closest friends can. Translated from Mandarin, the story meanders gracefully through the challenges that face the family, creating a timeless story of the trials of poverty and the power of love and loyalty to overcome hardship.
In New York Times best-selling author Dan Gutman’s all-new series, which blends fascinating real history with an action-packed adventure, four very different kids are picked by a mysterious billionaire to travel through time and photograph some of history’s most important events.
This time, Luke, Julia, David, and Isabel are headed to the deck of the doomed Titanic. Their mission? Capture a shot of the sinking ship, then come right back. The only problem is, once they arrive aboard the ship, the four friends can’t agree on what to do next. Should they try to save the passengers? Or maybe bring back a priceless book before it sinks with the ship?
The Titanic Mission tells the story of the ship’s fateful last voyage like you’ve never heard it before.
Note: For the most part, we’ve really enjoyed The Flashback Four Series! They taught us some great history lessons and kept us on the edge of our seats! Two things we didn’t absolutely love about them:
- 1) the books introduce the idea of time travel, which is clearly fictitious, and not every parent is comfortable mixing fantasy and reality like Dan Gutman does
- 2) the main characters are four kids from the current era who can be a little sarcastic and snide in their remarks to each other