Summer is here and many families will be taking to the road to enjoy a break. But being stuck in a car on a long drive is no fun, and even less so for kids. So, what’s the best way to keep everyone happy and entertained? 

The answer could be in these audiobooks and podcasts that the whole family – yes, even parents – can enjoy. 

How to play podcasts and audiobooks

If you’re dipping your toe into podcasts and audiobooks for the first time, there are a few different ways to set yourself up. 

It’s possible to connect your smartphone to the stereo via Bluetooth in most modern cars. If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, you might be able to connect via a good old-fashioned 3.5mm cable. Alternatively, you could invest in a budget portable Bluetooth speaker. This can also come in handy later in the trip, such as if you’re going camping.

There are a number of apps that will play podcasts and audiobooks. Some are free, such as BBC Sounds. Others, like Amazon’s Audible, have a monthly subscription, with a 30-day free trial to see if you like it. It includes one book per month, and you pay for any additional books. Podcasts are also available through free-to-use apps such as Spotify, Google Podcasts and Soundcloud.

Here’s a list of some of the apps you might need.

To get you started, these are our favourite audiobooks and podcasts for you and your family to enjoy on the road.

The Harry Potter books, read by Stephen Fry

What could be more quintessentially British? All seven of J.K. Rowling’s iconic Harry Potter books, read in Stephen Fry’s mellifluous voice. You’ll wonder where the hours disappeared - “Evanesco!”

Available on Audible.

Take to the skies with How To Train Your Dragon

For 8 to 12-year-olds - but really for everybody - Cressida Cowell’s ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ series is an absolute joy, set in a world of Vikings and misunderstood winged beasts. This series is also voiced fabulously by David Tennant.

Available on Audible and CD.

For young children, Hairy Maclary

Also wonderfully read by David Tennant, Hairy Maclary (from Donaldson’s Dairy) is a lovely set of stories by Lynley Dodd written in rhyming verse. This one even comes with its own interactive app.

Available on Android, iOS and as a CD.

For very young children, the Cbeebies podcast

Cbeebies Radio is fun, imaginative, and surprisingly entertaining for parents too. The podcast features a lot of TV favourites, including Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave, songs by Nick Cope, and the irrepressible Mr Tumble.

Available on BBC Sounds.

Ladybird Classics, for timeless tales

For some well-loved classics sensitively retold, this is a real gem. There are 18 stories - including ‘Alice In Wonderland’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Little Women’, ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Treasure Island’. Clocking in at 10 hours and 45 minutes, it’s ideal for cross-country trips.

Available on Audible.

Storygoblins, a range of funny fantasy stories

Storygoblins is the equivalent of the old tape-and-magazine format for the streaming age. There’s a range of captivating original stories, available as lovingly illustrated magazines and CDs… Or you can download them to an impressive selection of apps.

Find out more on the Storygoblins website.

Roald Dahl classics

For fans of the wonderfully grisly imagination of Roald Dahl, you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are lots of readings on Spotify, including a very good three-part reading of Fantastic Mr Fox by London primary school teacher Ms Harwood. And Kate Winslet reading Matilda is great, too - available on Audible and as a CD.

Fun true tales of yesteryear with Homeschool History

The BBC’s Homeschool History podcast delivers entertaining history lessons with bite-sized episodes. Hosted by Greg Jenner of Horrible Histories fame, the lessons come alive with fun facts and jokes, while also ticking the educational box.

Available on BBC Sounds.

With this selection of audiobooks and podcasts, there’s something for every family member to enjoy. They can make those long journeys fly by and may even help you keep any ‘carguments’ at bay.

Read our guide for more tips on happy, safe driving with kids.