Top 10 Audiobooks of 2020

The top 10 audiobooks represent the best of November 2019 to October 2020 releases, with selections for all age groups and interests.

The top 10 audiobooks represent the best of November 2019 to October 2020 releases, with selections for all age groups and interests. Nonfiction picks include a compilation of biographies featuring immigrant women from all over the globe and an incisive look at the history of racism in our country. Nic Stone’s middle grade debut is one you’ll want to add to your collections. Coming-of-age novels can be found across genres, including Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. Exceptional narration enhances the fascinating stories.


Acevedo, Elizabeth. Clap When You Land. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781094156958.
Gr 9 Up –Novels in verse are a natural match for the audio format, and Acevedo’s latest is no exception. The author and Melania-Luisa Marte provide powerful narration for this story of 16-year-old sisters who find out about each other when their father dies in a plane crash. Camino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and Yahaira, who lives in New York, grieve and get to know each other, developing strong bonds.

Ahmadi, Arvin. How It All Blew Up. Listening Library. ISBN 9780593288382.
Gr 9 Up –Amir runs off to Rome, concerned about what his traditional Muslim family will think if he comes out as gay. His trip is filled with adventure, but ends with him in an airport interrogation room. Vikas Adam, Ali Afkhami, Nikki Massoud, and Nazanin Nour provide exceptional narration for this hilarious and touching story.

Elliott, Joseph. The Good Hawk. Brilliance Audio. ISBN 9781978665323.
Gr 6-8 –Fast-paced action, authentically fresh voices, violent beasts, and unforgettable Scottish scenery elevate this debut novel. Narrators Fiona Hardingham and Gary Furlong voice Agatha and Jaime’s stories in alternating chapters, allowing listeners to experience this epic adventure from two different perspectives.

Favilli, Elena. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World. Listening Library. ISBN 9780593339428.
Gr 3-6 –The varied voices of the full cast of narrators effectively represent the stories of immigrant women’s lives in the third “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” collection. Readers include Gisela Chípe, Diane Guerrero, Deepti Gupta, Ifrah Mansour, Yvonne Orji, Annie Q, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Mirirai Sithole, Lorraine Toussaint, and Patricia Velásquez.

Jackson, Tiffany D. Grown. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781799941194.
Gr 9 Up –Joniece Abbott-Pratt’s well-paced, beautifully done narration enlivens this ripped-from-the-headlines story of Enchanted Jones, a girl who dreams of making it big as a singer, and what happens when she’s exploited by a famous and powerful entertainer.


Mabry, Samantha. Tigers, Not Daughters. Recorded Bks. ISBN 9781980080688.
Gr 7 Up –A year has passed since the oldest Torres daughter, Ana, fatally fell (or did she jump?) from her bedroom window. From across the street, a group of boys—once Ana’s voyeurs—continue to watch the shattered family, bearing witness with an obsessive mixture of judgment and awe. Luis Moreno effortlessly modulates tone and delivery as he assumes the San Antonio family’s sprawling dysfunction with impressive nuance.

Myers, B.R. Rogue Princess. Dreamscape. ISBN 9781690561323.
Gr 7 Up –Delia is a princess tasked with choosing her husband, but when she and a kitchen boy end up together in a spaceship, sparks fly. Mix in ethical pirates, a six-armed man who is the last of his kind, giant sandworms, an abundance of intrigue, treachery, sword fights, and some of the best red herrings you could imagine and you have this delightful story. Lucy Brownhill’s pacing and intensity ­convey the action as the story ­progresses.

Reynolds, Jason & Ibram X. Kendi. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781549184482.
Gr 7 Up –Kendi’s National Book Award–winning book Stamped from the Beginning has been engagingly adapted here for younger listeners by Jason Reynolds. Billed as a “not history history book,” the audio traces the history of racism and African American people from 1415 to the present day. Kendi reads the introduction to the audio, clearly describing the differences among segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists. Reynolds narrates the rest with his customary energy and expression, and in a conversational tone, which adds intimacy.

Stone, Nic. Clean Getaway. Listening Library. ISBN 9780593155387.
Gr 3-7 –With the help of G’ma’s faded Travelers’ Green Book, Scoob begins to understand what it was like for a mixed-race couple traveling through Alabama, Mississippi, and neighboring states in 1963. Narrator Dion Graham is excellent as Scoob and G’ma, emphasizing the humor in the story while giving weight to the realities of the time’s Jim Crow attitudes. Abundant humor cloaks subjects for further discussion: bullying, cheating, bias, and acknowledgment of the aging process.

Thomas, Aiden. Cemetery Boys. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781250619129.
Gr 7 Up –Yadriel sets himself a quest when his traditional Latinx family refuses to accept his true gender: find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set him free. But when he finds another ghost, Julian, instead, Yadriel has trouble severing their connection. Debut narrator Avi Roque brings the characters to life with detailed characterization and voice work.

Stephanie Klose is the audiobooks editor at School Library Journal.

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