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Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trip: Winter Holiday Edition 2014

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s House we go…

Yes, it is that time of year when the family piles in the car to trek to visit family and friends for the holidays. Nothing says family togetherness quite like being stuck in holiday traffic or in a snow storm. With that in mind, I went on a quest for audiobooks with a winter or holiday theme. Since it has taken almost two years to compile this short list, it is probably safe to say that this may be our one and only Family Audiobooks Winter Holiday Edition.

The criteria to make the list are

  • A good story
  • A great reader
  • Relatively low content (5 or lower in all categories since the car trip is probably  a multi-generational affair)
  • A holiday or winter theme

It is hard enough to meet the first three criteria so the addition of the fourth criteria was the straw that pretty much broke the camel’s back. However, on the positive side, a few great titles were discovered that can put your car in a holiday and winter mood.

(To see the full review with rated content analysis, please click on the title or book cover.)

Mr. Popper's Penguins, Book Cover

 Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

This is a favorite childhood book and it will especially entertain the youngest listeners in your car.  It is only a couple of hours in length and is complimented with sound effects like doorbells and music when the penguins are dancing.  A classic!





When Santa Fell to Earth, Book CoverWhen Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke

A truly charming Christmas story!  This audiobook is read by the author, Cornelia Funke.  Ms. Funke hails from Germany and although her English is outstanding every now and then there is a wisp of German accent.  This makes the story all that more charming and gives it a bit of a European flair.  A great middle grade book so even if you don’t pick up the audiobook, you should grab it in print.




The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Book CoverThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Really, this is another classic, and the raspy voice of the narrator really works for this reading.  This is a book that some families read aloud every year as a tradition.  It is a good pick for that multi-generational car because the youngest to the oldest in your group can enjoy this story.  It is only a couple of hours in length.





The Dark is Rising, Book Cover

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

This story is set at the perfect time for a holiday road trip; it starts on the Winter Solstice and goes through the Twelfth Day of Christmas.  You can almost feel the snow and cold radiating from the story.  The reader, while not fabulous for the female voices, is outstanding for the male characters and his English accent fits the book.  The reader also gets stronger as the book proceeds.




Starry Night, Book Cover Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

This book is unabashedly chick-lit and is not likely to win a Pulitzer any time soon. However, it is set in Alaska between Thanksgiving and Christmas, AND it is adult fiction you can listen to with a child in the car–a true rarity.  The reader is respectable, but much improved if you notch up the reading speed one or two degrees.






Drive safely this holiday season and happy listening!

– Cindy M., editor


An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!

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