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Top Audiobook Gifts for Young Listeners

10 picks sure to please kids of all ages

The Trials of Apollo, Star Wars Resistance Reborn, Charlotte's Web and With the Fire on High audiobooks

AudioFile/AARP

If you can't sit down and read to a grandchild, giving them an audiobook can be the next best thing. It's easier than ever to do. You can wrap a CD version, still available in some retail stores and online at sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or — even easier — use a downloadable service. You can purchase and send a gift audiobook using your existing Audible or Libro.fm membership (if you have one) or a credit card. You don't need to be a member of either service to buy a gift, but you do need a login for Audible (it can be the same as your login for Amazon).

You can also give a membership/subscription for 1 month ($15), 3 ($45), 6 ($90) or 12 ($150 for Audible; $165 for libro.fm) months that allows your grandchildren (over age 13) or their parents to choose any audiobooks they like.

These are some titles the editors at AudioFile Magazine recommend:

Audiobooks for ages 4-7

Charlotte's Webb

By E.B. White; read by Meryl Streep, January LaVoy, Kirby Heyborne, MacLeod Andrews and others

Who could resist the combination of E.B. White's classic and narration by Meryl Streep? A stellar cast of audiobook narrators provides a captivating mix of voices for the animals in this new recording. Though more than 60 years old, the story has lost none of its compassion and relevance. (Listening Library; $27.00)


Trombone Shorty

By Troy Andrews; read by Dion Graham

Music featuring a single trombone opens this picture-book and CD set, an autobiography by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, a New Orleans native and Grammy-nominated musician. Then, the first words of the audiobook — “Where y'at?” — greet listeners with an energetic welcome. The richness, variety and spice of New Orleans are reflected in Bryan Collier's mixed-media illustrations, the vocal range of Dion Graham's reading, and the audiobook's lively music and animated soundscape. (Live Oak Media; purchase directly from the publisher, $12.95)


Madame Badobedah

By Sophie Dahl; read by the author

This rollicking story from Roald Dahl's granddaughter, Sophie, has shades of Harriet the Spy and Eloise. Young Mabel is very curious when a new, exotic guest arrives at her parents’ seaside hotel. She names her Madame Badobedah, and is determined to find out her secrets. A beautiful friendship evolves. Wonderful sounds pepper the story — wailing sirens, crashing waves, muttering parents, crinkling toffee wrappers. Mabel's accent is British, her humor is dry, and her likability is at 100 percent. (Bolinda Audio, $22.90)


Audiobooks for ages 8-12

Look Both Ways

By Jason Reynolds; read by Heather Alicia Simms, Chris Chalk, Bahni Turpin, Adenrele Ojo, Kevin R. Free, JD Jackson, Guy Lockard, January LaVoy, David Sadzin, Jason Reynolds

Celebrated poet and author Jason Reynolds leads an ensemble of 10 African American narrators through 10 interconnected stories. His vibrant language, delivered with style by each narrator, makes every situation and detail — whether funny, outlandish, sad or tender — feel genuine, relatable and full of heart. Each story stands alone for shorter listening times. Reynolds reads the final chapter himself, a poetic conclusion that connects all of the threads in this perfect middle-grade novel. It's one of AudioFile's 2019 Best Audiobooks. (Simon & Schuster, $17.99)


Puss in Boots

By Neil Fishman, Harvey Edelman, Khristine Hvam; read by Jim Dale and others

A fractured fairy tale of Puss in Boots is reimagined as an audiobook musical — a fun, creative romp for families. Jim Dale and a full cast revamp a classic story, giving it musical numbers, inventive storytelling and lively characterizations. Spirited performances add zest to the script and songs. Puss's bold French accent is charming, the young princess is daring and creative, and Clarence's determination and bright spirit carry listeners through his unusual journey. It's ideal for fans of musicals, folktales and cats. (HarperAudio, $13.99)


How to Train Your Dragon

By Cressida Cowell; read by David Tennant

David Tennant, known for his roles in Doctor Who, Broadchurch and Good Omens, brings a slew of Scottish accents to this high-spirited rendering of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III's journey toward true heroism. Hiccup is the heir to the Hairy Hooligan Viking tribe, but he must pass the dragon initiation program to become a full member. Tennant has a special talent for creating larger-than-life voices, particularly the lisping and stuttering of the dragon, Toothless. Music and ominous dragon roaring between scenes start off this first audiobook in a series of 12 adventures that inspired the hit animated films. (Hachette Audio, $7.99)


The Trials of Apollo, Book One: The Hidden Oracle

The Trials of Apollo, Book Four: The Tyrant's Tomb (new)

By Rick Riordan; read by Robbie Daymond

Another choice for series fans, this one builds on Riordan's fan-favorite Percy Jackson series. Narrator Robbie Daymond lends his voice to the god Apollo, who has been transformed into a mortal teenage boy as a punishment from Zeus. The series starts with The Hidden Oracle, and Book 4, The Tyrant's Tomb, is new this fall. Riordan's canny writing and Daymond's pitch-perfect delivery keep these funny and action-packed books about epic battles, sacrifice, friendship and loss appropriate for 10-year-olds. (Listening Library; $35 each)


Audiobooks for ages 12 and up

With the Fire on High

By Elizabeth Acevedo; read by the author

Teens often like to feel a connection with a book's author; they will certainly feel it with author and poet Elizabeth Acevedo when she reads The Poet X or her 2019 novel, With the Fire on High. In The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2018, listeners can hear a slam poet delivering her own words; in With the Fire on High, Acevedo sounds natural and authentic as Emoni, an immensely likable Philadelphia high school senior with a 2-year-old daughter and a gift for cooking. (HarperAudio, $20.99)


Resistance Reborn (Star Wars): Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

By Rebecca Roanhorse; read by Marc Thompson

This story, which will appeal to Star Wars fans of any age, is a prequel to the new movie The Rise of Skywalker. It picks up shortly after the events of The Last Jedi, following the few remaining Resistance fighters as they struggle to survive and rebuild their ranks. Narrator Marc Thompson draws from a seemingly bottomless well of voices to portray the many characters of the Star Wars universe. (Penguin Random House; $31.50)


Call Down the Hawk: The Dreamer Trilogy, Book 1

By Maggie Stiefvater; read by Will Patton

This magnetic story begins a much anticipated spin-off series from the Raven Cycle books. Opening with Stiefvater's own music and then Patton's smooth and eerie narration, the audiobook takes readers on a wild ride of art forgers, dreamers and dream hunters. (Scholastic Audio, $39.99)

Audiobook prices may vary.

Robin Whitten is editor and founder of AudioFile, which reviews and recommends audiobooks, including for kids and teens.

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