HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Award-Winning Audiobooks for Ages 8 and Up

Award-Winning Audiobooks for Ages 8 and Up

AudioFile for The Children’s Book Review | April 13, 2020

The middle school years are nothing if not emotional. Stories that feature confusing, exciting, dramatic, and universe-altering emotions all resonate with kids who are careening wildly between childhood and the young adult world. Middle grade graphic novels are luring reluctant readers into literature as well. In this month’s selections, we have included an award-winning audiobook adapted from an award-winning graphic novel, along with four more outstanding, and emotional listens that we hope your tweens will enjoy.

Clean Getaway

Story by Nic Stone

Read by Dion Graham

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

An impromptu road trip through the south with his grandmother, G’ma, provides more than just a crazy adventure for middle school student Scoob, when what begins as a journey reliving his biracial family’s history develops into a complicated search for truths. The soul of the story is its focus on multi-generational family relationships, within the broader context of racial issues and the Civil Rights Movement in America. This is a compelling listen, and narrator Dion Graham is brilliant at expressing the mix of humor and honest emotions central to these complex lessons about personal and political injustices. Review »

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Ages 8+ | Length: 4 hrs. | Publisher: Listening Library | 2020

New Kid

Story by Jerry Craft

Read by Jesus Del Orden, Nile Bullock, Robin Miles, Guy Lockard, Peyton Lusk, Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, Phoebe Strole, and Marc Thompson

2020 Audie Award Winner

Jordan is full of anxiety at the start of seventh grade at a new private school where he is one of the few black students. This lively, full-cast audiobook production of Craft’s Newbery Medal Award-winning graphic novel lets listeners peek into Jordan’s life as he navigates his way through the nuances of racism. Brightly voiced by Jesus Del Orden, Jordan loves to draw satirical comics about his circumstances, and this successful adaptation of the graphic novel format to audio combines scene-setting sound effects that reference the images of the sequential art in the print book, with outstanding narrations, to create a totally remarkable experience. Review »

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Ages 8+ | Length: 2 hrs. | Publisher: Harper Audio | 2019 

Redwood and Ponytail

Story by K.A. Holt

Read by Tessa Netting, Cassandra Morris, and a Full Cast

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner, 2020 Odyssey Honor Audiobook, and 2020 ALSC Notable Children’s Recording

Two girls — Kate, the ponytailed cheerleader, and Tam, the star volleyball player —and two perspectives on life and first love in seventh grade. This award-winning story of two friends trying to understand how relationships work as they travel toward self-discovery is delivered in free verse by Tessa Netting and Cassandra Morris, along with a chorus of classmates’ commentary, in an emotionally connected performance. Review »

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Ages 8+ | Length: 5 hrs. | Publisher: Chronicle Books | 2019

King and the Dragonflies

Story by Kacen Callender

Read by Ron Butler

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

This spectacular middle-grade sequel to Callender’s debut novel HURRICANE CHILD is the bittersweet yet hopeful story of King, a black tween living in Louisiana who is coping with grief over the death of his older brother and struggling on a journey toward self-acceptance and being himself. The story explores a gamut of complex topics, including racism, homophobia, child abuse, death, and sexuality, but Ron Butler’s narration lends elegance and an unerring expressiveness to this heartbreakingly beautiful performance. Review »

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Ages 8+ | Length: 5 hrs. | Publisher: Scholastic Audiobooks | 2020

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Story 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

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner and 2020 ALSC Notable Children’s Recording

Ten interconnected stories create a collage from glimpses into the lives of middle school students while they are walking home from school. These authentic tales of urban life are narrated by ten outstanding African-American performers who bring the cast of characters to vivid life. Author Jason Reynolds’s vibrant language, delivered by the narrator ensemble with style, makes every situation and detail—whether funny, outlandish, sad, or tender—feel genuine, relatable, and full of heart. Reynolds reads the final chapter himself, a poetic conclusion that connects all of the threads in this perfect middle-grade novel. Review »

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Ages 10+ | Length: 4 hrs. | Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio | 2019

For even more middle grade audiobook recommendations, check out these listen-alike pairs.

The article Award-Winning Audiobooks for Ages 8 and Up was curated by AudioFile.  AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience. AudioFile Earphones Awards are given to exceptional audiobooks. To learn more, visit audiofilemagazine.com, Twitter @AudioFileMag, and Facebook @audiofilemagazine.

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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