Audiobooks have become so, so important in our family this year, and, if you haven’t already, I hope that you’ll consider making a place in your family’s routine for them. When I went back through my homeschool planner at the end of the year, I tallied up how many chapter books I had read aloud to my kids. 30! I was pretty pleased. But then I went back and tallied all of the audiobooks we had listened to. 21! 30+21… My kids were exposed to nearly twice the number of books they would have heard if they were only listening to the books I had voice and time to share with them.
When do you have the time to listen to audiobooks? In the car. If I’m being totally honest here, one of my biggest reasons for taking up with audiobooks was to get my kids to stop fighting with each other every single time we got in the car (and driving me NUTS). It worked! At least when the audiobook is playing, it’s otherwise silent in the car.
Without further ado, here are the 21 audiobooks we listened to in the car in 2nd grade.
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1. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate – Red is a wise red oak tree who’s seen a lot of time go by. Samar is a Muslim refugee being bullied with hateful messages. Red decides to help.
2. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer – Twins Alex and Conner meet the fairy tale characters they’ve always read about when they enter the Land of Stories through a book.
3. The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris – This book (with intermittent real magic trick tips) will appeal especially to magic enthusiasts, but it’s a fun book for all kids. Carter is a young magician with integrity trying to survive in a world where conmen abound. With the help of his new misfit friends, he might just be okay.
4. The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter – This book was the favorite audiobook of the year for all three of us. It started out with a violent scenario that nearly led me to discontinue it, but I’m glad that I gave it a little more time before I decided. Highly atmospheric, The Bone Snatcher is set in a world gone mad. Nearly everyone has fled, and Sophie Seacove is left behind to work at a decaying mansion. It’s mysterious, it’s gripping, and it’s haunting. WE LOVED IT.
5. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown – What if a robot lived in nature, mothering an orphaned gosling? That’s the premise of The Wild Robot. This sweet story packs some hefty themes that make for good discussion.
6. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell – Hiccup has to use his own particular strengths to find his place in his Viking clan.
7. The BFG by Roald Dahl – Giants are brutes who eat children for breakfast, but not the BFG. He’s a gentle, loving, lonely soul, and he and little Sophie are on a mission to save the other children.
8. Matilda by Roald Dahl – Matilda is a bright little girl with a beautiful soul who was born to absolutely terrible, awful, dreadful parents. She handles her life with them, as well as the world’s worst headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, with the power of books and the love of a very special teacher.
9. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo – Flora is a girl. Ulysses is a squirrel. She rescues him from a vacuum cleaner. It’s cute. It’s funny. It’s from the really great Kate DiCamillo.
10. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate di Camillo – The stories of a mouse who is in love with a princess, a rat who yearns to live in the light, and a serving girl with a wish converge.
11. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman – Fortunately, the Milk delivers the story of a father who must protect the milk his family needs for their breakfast cereal as he travels through time.
12. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes – 2nd grader Billy navigates the triumphs and trials of childhood.
13. The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry – I’ll be honest. I found this book odd. The parents are rotten, and the kids are mostly rotten. Somehow it has a happy resolution, though.
14. Spirit Animals 1: Born Wild by Brandon Null – In the land of Erdas, kids drink a nectar when they turn 11 to see if they’ll conjure up a spirit animal. This first book in the series introduces us to the chosen, their spirit animals, and the forces they’ll be up against.
15. Pax by Sara Pennypacker – This book, with its broken characters and theme of human-animal bond is reminiscent of Because of Winn-Dixie. When their lives are turned upside down by war, a boy is determined to find his way back to his pet fox. He’ll find some help from an unlikely source who needs his help just as much.
16. Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan – We’ve read the Usborne Illustrated Greek Myths from cover to cover many times over, so it made sense to move on to some of Rick Riordan’s work. I was a little concerned about all of the inherent sex and violence in Greek mythology, but Riordan handles it appropriately for his audience. (“And about nine months later….”) And I thank him for that.
17. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – We listened to the fourth installment of the Harry Potter series on the way to our vacation at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which made it extra special.
18. A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder – Who is the pet – the dragon or the human? This book is a great choice for young fantasy fans.
19. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes – The Moffats is a short and sweet tale of wholesome siblings that’s gentle for sensitive ears.
20. Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Beam – The narrator’s warm voice adds so much to this reading of Tumtum and Nutmeg, the story of a pair of mice who decide to help the children they share a house with.
21. The Ark Plan: Edge of Extinction by Laura Martin – Honestly, I was suspicious that this book might be Christian literature in disguise, but that’s not the case. It does, however, contain allusions to the ark and the story of Noah (hooray for an opportunity to teach allusions!). Short-sighted scientists have brought dinosaurs back into existence, and most of humanity has been wiped out in the aftermath. Part dystopian literature, part sci-fi, this book is built around a fascinating premise with a main character on a mission that’s riveting.
Need more book suggestions for your elementary-aged student? Find more ideas in this list of the 30 books I read to my 2nd graders.