25 Favorite Read Aloud Books for a Road Trip
We love to bring read aloud books for a road trip because they help pass the time and keep the kids unplugged. We have pooled together some of our favorites, asked some of our favorite teachers for their suggestions, and found some friends to chime in with their choices too. We hope you will find that these books not only entertain your children, but promote discussion and family connection, helping those hours in the car fly by.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
Road Trip Books to Read Aloud for Younger Children and Early Elementary School
1. Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Who doesn’t love the maid Amelia Bedelia and her crazy antics! From literally drawing the drapes to dressing the chicken, Amelia takes all of instructions to the letter. I loved this story as a child and it really does stand the test of time, because kids these days still love to hear it as a read aloud.
2. The BFG by Roald Dahl
All of my children love the Big Friendly Giant (BFG). When Sophie is carried away from her orphanage bedroom by the BFG, she soon realizes how lucky she is that she wasn’t taken by one of the unfriendly child eating giants.
Those giants are planning to eat all the children in England, and Sophie convinces the BFG it is their job to stop them. Dahl’s witty language, charming characters, and clever plot make for a heartwarming and entertaining family read aloud.
3. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Stanley wakes up one morning to find that overnight he has been flattened by a bulletin board that fell off his wall. Thankfully he can still have amazing adventures and that’s what kids will love about him. He can fly like a kite, slip under a door, be mailed in an envelope across country, the possibilities are endless!
4. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My second grader learned about this book during his pioneer study at school and was really excited about it. He wanted to watch the movie and learn all about the pioneers. I had no idea he would want to know about Laura and her life with Ma, Pa, and her sisters. I guess some family read aloud books just withstand the test of time.
5. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Mr. Popper is a house painter fascinated by the Arctic. One day he sends a letter to the great Arctic explorer Admiral Drake, who in return sends him a penguin! Mr. Popper’s children are thrilled, his wife is less so. Of course a penguin cannot live alone, so Mr. Popper gets another penguin friend, and the shenanigans begin in earnest. Kids and parents alike will be laughing throughout the entire book.
6. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
When a young boy and his family check into a hotel, the first thing Ralph the Mouse notices is the boy’s red toy motorcycle. Ralph is determined to ride the motorcycle, and when he does, things don’t go as smoothly as planned. Beverly Cleary has so many good books to read on a road trip, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
7. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
This Newbery honor book is the story of Elmer Elevator (the narrator’s father), who runs away as a young boy to rescue a dragon on a faraway island. Using some creative tools he’s brought from home (think lollipops and rubber bands) he is able to defeat the beast that guards the island. This is a charming, lighthearted story, that children will enjoy over and over again.
8. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
I love all of Shel Silverstein’s books of poetry, but this is one of my favorite books. It is the first one I remember reading as a child, and my kids enjoy it just as much as I did. We pick a few poems to read to break up a long car ride and giggles always ensue. We also try to create our own Shel Silverstein-esque poems along the way. Plenty of fun to be had with this book!
Read Alouds for Older Elementary School
9. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
The main character Opal, adopts an ugly, but lovable dog, Winn Dixie, and everyone in town starts to befriend them. Abandoned at a young age by her mother, the dog helps Opal grow emotionally and replaces some of her sadness with the happiness of new friends and relationships.
10. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
This book is what happens when you mix Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with “Night at the Museum”. Luigi Lemoncello, the most famous game maker in the world, has built the new town library. He invites twelve kids to spend the night in the building and take part in a game competition. They have to compete to escape the library and the winner will claim the ultimate prize. My kids loved reading this book and were hooked from beginning to end.
11. The Genius Files by Dan Gutman
It seems any book series that Dan Gutman writes is a hit, and The Genius Files is no exception. Coke and Pepsi McDonald are twins, and part of a secret government program called the Genius Files (unbeknownst to them). They head off on a cross country road trip and immediately realize they’re being followed.
Danger ensues and they have to outsmart evil villains as they journey across the country. Gutman throws in interesting geography facts and photos in this adventure series. My kids love these books!
12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This first book in the Harry Potter series is fun to read aloud to kids of all ages. Whether they have seen the films or not, they will surely enjoy J.K. Rowling’s characters, creativity, and charm.
13. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
When Omri gets a toy plastic Indian from his friend Patrick for his birthday, he is a bit disappointed. He puts the toy in a cupboard and locks it with a key, but this transforms the Indian into a real live man from a different time and place! Will Omri be able to keep this secret? Kids love this story and they all wish this could happen in real life.
14. The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
This series places twins Alex and Conner in a fairytale land (The Land of Stories), where they encounter characters and places from classic fairytales. I really enjoy reading this series with the kids and we love each time a new character is introduced.
The twins meet trolls, fairies, and the various residents of the Land of Stories as they try to get back home and reunite with their family.
15. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I just love the story of the Pevensie siblings who step through the wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land of eternal winter ruled by the White Witch. When almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice. The Chronicles of Narnia series is a family favorite.
16. From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Siblings Claudia and Jamie decide to run away from home and head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Once settled into the museum they find themselves in the middle of a museum mystery which Claudia is determined to solve. This is the tale of their grand adventure and their time on the run.
17. Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Mrs. Frisby is a widowed mouse with a sick child and must move from her house immediately. She turns to the rats of NIMH for assistance who develop a brilliant plan to move her family and she repays them with her own kindness. The adventures the rats and mice take throughout the book and the obstacles they have to overcome will have everyone cheering along the way.
18. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This book won the 2013 Newbery Medal and has been #1 on the New York Times best seller list. I’m sure you will agree both are well deserved. The book is written from the perspective of a gorilla named Ivan, who spent 27 years in captivity in a shopping mall. When an elephant named Ruby moves in, he is forced to re-examine life as he knows it and try to find a better life for both of them. Based on a true story, the chapters are short, making it perfect for a read aloud.
19. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
This is the first book in the Percy Jackson series, about a young boy (Percy) who is half human, half Greek God, but doesn’t realize the extent of his powers until he is sent off to Half Camp Blood where other demigods live. Once there he is sent off on his first quest to battle monsters of mythical proportions, helping to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus. Action packed with clever dialogue, each chapter is a cliff hanger and time will fly by as you read this! This is the first book in the series.
Read Aloud Books for Middle Schoolers
20. Born to Fly by Michael Ferrari
When Pearl Harbor is attacked, young Bird’s world is turned upside down. Her father is sent off to fight and she is sent to live with her uncle. When a new student, Kenji, arrives at school, they become friends, and stumble onto evidence of an enemy Japanese submarine in the area.
Unfortunately, no one will believe them. The book has many twists and turns, and some heavier themes, but this is a great book that will get families talking both during and after reading.
21. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
When Leslie moves to the farm next door, Jess doesn’t realize his life is about to change forever. The two create a magic kingdom in the woods called Terabithia, and crown themselves king and queen, fighting imaginary giants, and real life problems. Suddenly tragedy strikes and changes their lives forever.
I read this book when I was in 5th grade and I still remember it. Kids will probably cry (you might too), so know that before you start the book, but it’s definitely worth the read.
22. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Definitely a book for older children as the book opens with a rather gruesome scene, but the story quickly turns to a more friendly tale. A toddler survives an attack on his family and walks to a nearby graveyard where he is adopted by the ghostly residents that live in the cemetery.
Whenever the boy strays from his usual play among the headstones, he finds new dangers, learns his limitations and strengths, and finds the skills he needs to survive within the confines of the graveyard and in wider world beyond. Older kids will truly enjoy Gaiman’s writing style which mixes humor, fantasy, and horror in a terrific award winning tale.
23. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
A girl, Karana, lives alone on an island for 18 years and makes a life for herself. There’s more to the story about how she gets there, but I don’t want to give it away. As time passes, she adapts to life on the island, observes the arrival of enemies, fights off wild animals, and learns valuable life lessons. Based on a true story, this will give families a lot to discuss about survival and self discovery.
24. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
The main character, Melody, has a photographic memory. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but no one knows it because she can’t talk, walk, or write. She has cerebral palsy and is literally stuck inside her head.
This is driving her mad until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice but not everyone around her is ready to hear it. Definitely worth reading with older kids.
25. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August is born with a facial difference that before now has prevented him from attending a mainstream school. All he wants is to be treated like a “normal” kid, but the other students aren’t quite ready to look past his physical features. Not only does August deal with the challenges of middle school, he teaches other students (and readers) life lessons along the way. Kids and adults alike will love this book.
My road trip tip is to plan some things ahead like hotel reservations or travel tickets. But I like to leave room for spontaneity! I think it’s fun to go off the road map a bit and explore. Don’t forget to have fun and let loose!
I take a travel fan that clips onto the stroller and wagon. It’s a lifesaver.
My best road trip tip is to allow time to explore something that catches your eye. For me, part of the fun is exploring something that I didn’t plan to see. Those surprises are what make lasting impressions on my family.
Great list of read alouds. I think I’ve read nearly all of them with my kids over the years. We used to pack read alouds or books on tape for every trip.
So many brilliant books in here! Wonder is one of our favourites and my son loved Flat Stanley when he was younger too.
Great list! We’ve enjoyed some of these as audio books since reading in the car makes me car sick.
This is a great list of books to read on road trips (or anywhere really!) Our kids are 7 and 9 and we love our road trips and reading on the go…havent tried audio books yet, but some good recommendation for older kids here, might give it a go 🙂
Great selection and prize pack!
I’m fairly certain I know each of those books! So many good reads and perfect for throwing in your luggage and setting off on an adventure.
The first taking my kids with my husband to myrtle beach and stopping at south of the border was a great road trip
Great recommendations! I’d also suggest the “How to Train Your Dragon” series. Just really fun reads that boys and girls (and even parents) enjoy!
My best travel tips, when traveling with kids, is have extra rear-view mirrors trained on the back seats. This will allow you to keep an eye on the children without having to turn around, and are particularly useful if you’re driving without another adult. They are easy to get hold of in car accessory shops or online. Also when we travel with our kids, we like to make sure we pack in there backpacks: activity books, headphones, educational tablet, card games, and even fun “I Spy” Road Trip printables, they mark off what they find as we drive, and the when they complete the list they get a prize. Very fun for them!
All great tips. Super helpful to be able to see behind you and activities will certainly keep them busy!
Kara, I completely forgot about those! My kids love those books too. Great recommendation!
I always wanted to visit Myrtle Beach with the kids. I hear it’s fantastic!
I love taking paperbacks, so if they get lost, I consider it a donation to the lucky person that finds the book!
There will be two happy winners for sure!
Audio books are great too, especially when the readers have really fun character voices. They add music too, which can bring a completely different feeling to the book. Great way to mix up a long road trip!
Yep! I definitely don’t recommend reading if you get sick in the car. That’s the worst!
Didn’t you just love Wonder? My son read it, and then I had to read it too, to see what all the hype was about. Can’t wait to share it with my youngest one when he’s a bit older.
You’re so right. The unexpected surprises are the best. Getting ready to pack a bunch of these books and audio books for a long road trip in a few weeks. Wish me luck!
I bet that is the best. Especially on hot summer days.
Great tip! I’m a big planner, but sometimes having kids can make the plans stray from the original path. That’s life though and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What a fabulous list! I am prepping for a big trip with a 9, 7, 4, and 3.5 year old. What would you recommend?
Not posting to be entered into the draw, as we are in Canada. I am posting, however, to comment on the awesome collection of kids books you have here! As a middle school English teacher, anything featuring kids and books has my complete attention! I was very happy to see “Wonder” and “The One and Only Ivan” on the list, as they are two of my current favorite read alouds.
this is great and a wonderful idea, now that AJ is getting older he rather read than play in the car. What a great way to get us all involved. Just wish there was a way to keep me from getting car sick when reading.
Robin, how about the “How to Train Your Dragon” series or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “The BFG”? All of those appeal to a wide variety of ages. Roald Dahl is an amazing story teller!
Thank you so much for commenting! I wish you could enter. : ( I really loved “Wonder” and only one of our children has read “Ivan” so I might read that on our road trip coming up. I think they both have such wonderful messages. Any other favorites you like to read with your middle schoolers? I’m always looking for good books for my almost 7th grader.
Karen, I think audio books are the perfect solution. Go to your local public library or download them onto your phone or Kindle and then you don’t have to read at all. Problem solved! : )
We love so many of these books, and picked up some fresh inspiration too. Pinning!
hi, for smaller children i recommend the portable dvd players, most attach to the back of the front seats. my children swear by these now that they have their own toddlers and preschoolers…
The portable DVD players can be life savers on a long trip! We have watched many movies this way.
Thanks Allison! Glad to hear you agree and found some new ones too!
I only read a couple of these so thank you for putting this together. I actually haven’t tried whether my daughter would like books on tape, rather than reading them, but since both are pretty good readers, we could get these titles for them on Kindle (on our next long flight).
Break up your trip and do something fun each day along the way.
Wow! This is certainly a pretty big list of books that is sure to keep kids occupied while on the road. Thanks for sharing!
Love these suggestions. I have already ordered penguins poppers since that has been on our list for a while. we head off in a week!
Don’t you just love Kindles? At least you don’t have to worry about the weight of the books and losing a bunch of them. Although, there’s always the issue of losing the Kindle I guess. : ) I think they have audio books on Kindle as well. That might work too.
Great idea Ellen. Adding in stops each day is a great way to break up a long day.
Thanks Heather! With kids in all 3 age groups, it’s pretty easy to know what everyone will like. Hope you find some new reads here or old favorites.
Karilyn, where are you headed? We loved Mr. Poppers Penguins. It’s hard to imagine penguins living with a family in the city. I think that’s what my kids loved the most, imagining it could be them! Ha! Have a wonderful trip.
My son would always get car sick from reading, but he loves to read so we would stop every hour or so to sit and read, eat and recharge and then talk about what he just read until we could stop again. Always a great way to encourage him to think about what he is reading and think out side the box.
Great list. I just wrote a post about the same topic with just a bit of overlap. I totally forgot about the Indian in the Cupboard. We loved that one, and Because of Winn Dixie. I highly recommend the Tale of Desperaux by the same author. The cartoon movie just doesn’t do it justice. Thanks for sharing your list. I’m pinning it for further reading.
Isn’t it nice when our kids are a captive audience? I love asking them questions about reading and they actually want to share their thoughts. Road trips are the best!
Tara, we love Desperaux too. Getting ready to take that on our road trip. Isn’t it funny how the movies rarely do justice to a good book?
I couldn’t even watch The Tale of Desperaux after falling in love with the book and that awesome narrator!
I took your advice and purchased a book on DVD for our last road trip. WOW!! The kids were positively mesmerized. We pulled up to a stop after THREE HOURS and they were stunned saying it felt like only 30 minutes. I’m looking for the next one as we just finished the entire series!! Thanks for the great tip!
You are welcome! Glad you found a good DVD that worked for the kids!
Comments are closed.