5 Outstanding Audiobooks For Ages 8 and Up

Best New Audiobooks for Picture Book Lovers
AudioFile for The Children’s Book Review

Here are five audiobooks for middle-grade listeners to enjoy, all with outstanding performances by their narrators. Many kids will be starting up at school again this month, and the full-cast narration of TWINS makes for an excellent listen to help ease that transition back to school. Listeners looking for a science fiction-fueled escape can jump into the gaming-inspired adventures of the LAST GATE OF THE EMPEROR. Whether your listeners are looking for history, thrilling fantasy, or stories of being true to themselves, they will find something to love. Read on to see all the audiobooks recommended below by AudioFile’s editors.

TWINS by Varian Johnson Audiobook

Story by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright

Read by Ahnya O’Riordan, Grace Capeless, Mashari Bain, Malcolm Bowen, Antoinette Comer, André Blake, and Armand Xavier Rufen-Blanchette

Ages 8+ | Scholastic Audiobooks | 1.5 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

A full cast brings this middle-grade graphic novel to life. Maureen and Francine are Black twin middle schoolers who are forever being mistaken for each other. Outgoing Francine, voiced with confidence by Grace Capeless, decides to run for class president. The story is told from Maureen’s point of view, and Ahnya O’Riordan’s youthful voice captures her anxieties about change and her frustration with her sister—which manifests in her decision to run for class president. Fans of the graphic novel will be delighted to experience a favorite audiobook in a new format. Those encountering it for the first time will definitely want to seek out the book illustrated by Shannon Wright. Review »

Buy the Audiobook
Listen to a Sample

Music and sound effects accentuate the moods in this nonfiction picture book about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. January LaVoy narrates with a range of emotions. She opens cheerfully, detailing the thriving Black community’s prosperity. Then the listener hears the ominous thud of an elevator landing and it’s metal grate opening—the beginnings of a racially motivated massacre. Tense music and the sounds of chaos punctuate the ensuing violence. LaVoy somberly details the aftermath—hundreds dead, thousands homeless, Greenwood in ruins. Her voice turns optimistic, however, reading the author’s exhortation to “choose hope.”

Buy the Audiobook
TOO BRIGHT TO SEE Audiobook Cover

Story by Kyle Lukoff

Read by Jax Jackson and Kyle Lukoff

Ages 10+ | Listening Library | 4.5 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Jax Jackson quickly convinces listeners of Bug’s determination to acquire a sense of self during the summer before middle school. There are several reasons for this: his beloved Uncle Roddy’s death, a ghost haunting his dreams, and discovering he no longer shares interests with his friends. Jackson’s delivery also conveys the deeper uncertainty this 11-year-old is facing. By exploring Uncle Roddy’s open gayness and past—he was a drag queen—Bug begins to understand his transgender identity. Jackson gives a realistic representation of grief, friendship, and coming out for a middle-grade audience, along with a goosebumps-inducing ghost story. Review »

Buy the Audiobook

Story by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen

Read by Prince Araya Mengesha

Ages 10+ | Scholastic Audiobooks | 6.5 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

This science fiction story is packed with detailed world-building and intense action. Prince Joel Makonnen, coauthor, and Prince Araya Mengesha, narrator, are members of the Ethiopian imperial family, bringing real historical context and an authentic voice to this fantasy. Yared feels most alive in HKO, the augmented-reality gaming tournament he’s dominating. Mengesha crafts a lovable jokester as Yared deflects loneliness and enemy attacks alike with humor. The latest game finds Yared teamed up with his archrival, the Ibis, against real armies in a conflict that reveals Yared’s hidden past. Review »

Buy the Audiobook

Narrator Katie Anvil Rich brings vibrant characters to life in Smith’s contemporary reimagining of PETER PAN. In this version, Lily is Muscogee Creek; her stepsister, Wendy, is English; and their younger brother, Michael, is both. As the siblings are swept off to Neverland, their stubbornness, creativity, and love for each other prove to be sizable challenges to the mores of Pan’s volatile realm. Through multidimensional portrayals of Native children, the Lost, and the Pirates, listeners delve deeper into the magic and cruelty of Neverland, seen in a completely new way. Rich’s warm tones, inventive delivery, and fervent pacing bring out the heart and intensity in this stunning adventure.  Review »

Buy the Audiobook

The article 5 Outstanding 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.

For more articles like 5 Outstanding Audiobooks For Ages 8 and Up, follow along with The Children’s Book Review’s content tagged with Audiobooks and AudioFile.

How You Support The Children’s Book Review

We may receive a small commission from purchases made via the links on this page. If you discover a book or product of interest on this page and use the links provided to make a purchase, you will help support our mission to ‘Grow Readers.’ Your support means we can keep delivering quality content that’s available to all. Thank you!

August 12, 2021 at 12:35PM AudioFile