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Find more Top 10 Middle-Grade Audiobooks
Audiobooks for middle-grade listeners showcase some of the best narration work around. These Top 10 Titles are infused with drama, tension, hilarity, and heartbreak, and they often feature an Own Voices narrator. All were reviewed by Booklist between April 15, 2020 and April 15, 2021.
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. Read by Quincy Surasmith. 2020. 4hr. Brilliance, DD, $24.99 (9781713547792). Gr. 5–8.In his audiobook debut, Surasmith narrates with a calm, journalistic demeanor and pays careful attention to the correct pronunciation of Thai names. Narration seamlessly weaves in sidebars in this nonfiction selection; a great choice for fans of the I Survived series.
The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell. By Jordan Sonnenblick. Read by the author. 2021. 5hr. Scholastic, DD, $62.99 (9781338751024). Gr. 3–7.In author/narrator Sonnenblick’s homage to his childhood, he reads his adventures with understated humor, and and listeners are treated to his progression as a drummer from a Ringo Starr-wannabe to a semi-proficient thumper.
The Boys in the Back Row. By Mike Jung. Read by Keong Sim. 2020. 5.5hr. Dreamscape, DD (9781662039317). Gr. 4–7.Sim’s effervescent energy is a perfect match for Jung’s rollicking, heartwarming MG buddy epic, and he is as comfortable voicing 6th-grade drummers as he is with embarrassingly woke parents.
Before the Ever After. By Jacqueline Woodson. Read by Guy Lockard. 2020. 2hr. Listening Library, DD, $34 (9780593341223). Gr. 5–8.Lockard connects listeners to 12-year-old ZJ and his pro-football player father who suffers from a brain injury. He voices ZJ’s dad as full of life and masculine energy, but listeners hear his growing anguish and debilitating pain. An amplification of the emotion and sensory experience of Woodson’s lyrical verse.
City of the Plague God. By Sarwat Chadda. Read by Vikas Adam. 2021. 10.5hr. Listening Library, DD, $63 (9780593291160). Gr. 3–7.In this large cast, ranging from 13-year-old Sik to a living sword and the vengeful plague god, Adam creates and maintains a remarkable spectrum of voices. He also adeptly conveys both the action sequences and the emotional core of this mythology-infused middle-grade fantasy.
Fighting Words. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2020. 6.5 hr.. Listening Library, DD, $50 (9780593214992). Gr. 5–8.Bradley’s strong writing conjures the heartbreak and humor of Della’s world, while Turpin’s narration radiates the characters’ range of emotions. Turpin displays a mastery of nuanced regional Tennessee accents, from a white Appalachian twang to the subtleties of southern African American speech. An Odyssey-honored narration.
The One and Only Bob. By Katherine Applegate. Read by Danny DeVito. 2020. 4hr. Harper, DD, $17.99 (9780063012639). Gr. 3–6.Devito’s wry delivery is an apt match for Bob the dog. Using a sarcastic lilt, he conveys Bob’s misanthropy and, eventually, his begrudging softheartedness as he grows from domesticated stray to big-hearted hero.
The Scary Stories Audio Collection. By Alan Schwartz. Read by a full cast. 2020. 3.5hr. HarperAudio, DD, $15.99 (9780062965820). Gr. 4–6.In this audio revival of Schwartz’s beloved three-book horror anthology, actors Patton Oswalt, Melissa McBride, and Alex Brightman breathe new life into three classic tales, each offering a unique spin on the material.
Starting from Seneca Falls. By Karen Schwabach. Read by Bernadette Dunne. 2020. 4.5hr. Listening Library, DD, $38 (9780593208274). Gr. 3–6.With a subtle Irish brogue and a wee bit of magic, Dunne becomes the charismatic Irish immigrant Bridie, who is involved in the historic Seneca Falls Convention. She whispers Bridie’s deepest, dearest thoughts and cuts loose when Bridie’s patient self-control is exhausted.
When Stars Are Scattered. By Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Read by a full cast. 2020. 4hr. Listening Library, DD, $38 (9780593162590). Gr. 6–8.An Odyssey-honored example of perfection in its storytelling, format shifting, and performance. The full cast includes many audiobook-narrating stars and fine performances by Somalian American actors. Thoughtful production elements allow the audio to hold true to its sequential-art text.
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