The Best New Audiobooks for Kids Ages 8 and Up

Best New Audiobooks for Middle-Grade Readers
AudioFile for The Children’s Book Review

This month’s selections feature excellent audiobook listening for kids ages eight and up — and adults who want to listen along with their kids will find some amazing stories to enjoy as well! We are highlighting new audiobooks by favorite MG authors and new works by YA authors entering the middle-grade space. There’s something for everyone — whether you have a reader itching for a fantastic adventure, a curious reader wanting to learn more about LGBTQIA+ history and identities, or a reader wanting to laugh along with a hilarious account of laundry gone wrong!


Story by Alex Gino

Read by Alex Gino

Ages 10+ | Scholastic Audiobooks | 3.5 hrs.] | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Author Alex Gino narrates their newest middle-grade audiobook with cheerful vivacity. Sam and TJ are two nonbinary kids looking for a project subject who isn’t a dead straight cisgender white man (DSCWM) when they stumble on the history of a mostly forgotten queer photographer, Alice Austen. With help from their LGBTQIA+ community, they campaign to put her on the map.

Gino’s voicing of Sam is charmingly authentic—the perfect preteen mix of sweetness and stubbornness, with every quicksilver emotion apparent in their tone. An author’s note recounts Gino’s own discovery of Alice Austen and her connection to their childhood home. Review »

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New From Here: Audiobook Cover

Story by Kelly Yang

Read by Justin Chien

Ages 8+ | Simon & Schuster Audio | 8 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Sensitivity and verve characterize Justin Chien’s narration of this heartfelt story. Ten-year-old Knox is an impulsive and tenderhearted middle child, and he has the hardest time leaving his father in Hong Kong when he flies with his mom and siblings to San Francisco to avoid the pandemic. Sadly, COVID-19 and anti-Asian prejudice find them there.

Chien’s sincerity and depth of feeling make these situations relatable. The audiobook ends with a note on the author’s own pandemic experiences. Review »

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It's the End of the World And I'm In My Bathing Suit

Story by Justin A. Reynolds

Read by Nile Bullock

Ages 8+ | Scholastic Audiobooks | 5.75 hrs.

Narrator Nile Bullock captures the goofy energy of this hilarious middle-grade audiobook. Bullock’s lively voice conveys 12-year-old Eddie’s charm as he tells listeners about his plan to get out of summer chores: He’ll wear everything he owns, so he doesn’t have to do his laundry until the day AFTER the town’s beach bash. When his mom discovers his massive pile of dirty laundry, he’s left home alone to wash up. Then the power goes out—and Eddie’s stuck in his swim trunks.

Bullock portrays Eddie with a fast, bouncy pace, taking listeners down his many meandering tangents. Eddie discovers four other kids to roam around the neighborhood with—but where is everyone else?  Review »

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The Last Mapmaker

Story by Christina Soontornvat

Read by Sura Siu

Ages 8+ | OrangeSky Audio | 7.5 hrs.

Sura Siu captivates as she narrates Soontornvat’s breathtaking seafaring adventure. Sai is a bright-voiced, bold 12-year-old girl who is hoping to carve a new course for her life. She’s thrilled when her assistantship to the bristly, demanding mapmaker Paiyoon yields a chance to join an expedition charting the Southern seas for the Mangkon kingdom. Then Sai hears rumors of a secret, dangerous plan to find the Sunderlands, a fabled continent guarded by dragons.

Soontornvat’s Thai-inspired fantasy world is one listeners will adore exploring, and the story delves into the dangerous impacts of empire building and colonization. Siu amps up the pace as Sai faces storms, betrayal, and more as she uses all her strengths to chase her dreams—and do what’s right. Review »

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Narrator Cassandra Morris’s youthful tone fits Annabelle, a sixth-grader who has grown up sheltered in a small town until she crushes on Bailey, a new, nonbinary student. Lukoff’s well-rounded, authentic characters are portrayed accurately by Morris. She captures Annabelle’s confusion and curiosity about gender terms and her own identity, and, later, the freshness of Annabelle’s new perspectives and her process of internalizing them. Metaphors and meaningful incidents aid Annabelle along a surprising path as she comes to better understand the world and herself amid clashes of prejudice, perspective, and privilege.

The audio includes an afterword by Lukoff describing the book’s journey, his personal experiences, and all the people who helped him. Review »

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This list, The Best New Audiobooks for Kids 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, Twitter @AudioFileMag, Facebook @audiofilemagazine.

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June 13, 2022 at 12:38AM AudioFile