If you’re like millions of Americans (and those odds are good), you’re going to shove the kids, wife, and suitcases into the car and head out to visit family you don’t really want to see — but are obligated to once a year. You will also spend hours in traffic. At this moment you have 2 options: 1) Let your childlike zombies continue to stare at their tablets while you lose your mind (who is doing construction on a Sunday?). 2) Get the whole family to listen to a good book. Here are bunch of celebrity-voice driven classics that are preferable to hearing Google Maps say, “You are on the fastest route.”
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
For all those that loved Scar Jo in The Avengers — this is an audiobook. That you listen to. With your family. So now you get to appreciate her performance as an accomplished actress portraying each character in this Lewis Carroll classic, and not just make you wonder when Black Widow is getting her own feature-length movie.
Ages: 8 – 11
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Read By Scarlett Johansson
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
The average gas station has a selection of candy Mr. Wonka would find lacking. At least there’s non-stop talk of everlasting gobstoppers, lickable wallpaper, and fizzy lifting drinks inside the car. Charles Hodge lends his charming English timber to the story — even “Oompa Loompa” sounds exalted.
Ages: 8 – 12
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Read By Charles Hodge
What Pet Should I Get?
If Steve Carell is like the Regional Manager of a beloved kids’ movie, then Rainn Wilson is the Assistant To The Regional Manager of beloved kids’ books. In this lesser-known Dr. Seuss tale, Wilson plays around with the good doctor’s nonsense words. It’s just a bonus that the book has a less violent message than Hop On Pop.
Ages: 2 – 5
What Pet Should I Get? Read By Rainn Wilson
Hooray For Anna Hibiscus
Hooray For Anna Hibiscus, contains 4 of the tales from the Anna Hibiscus series, about a little girl who navigates her life in a West African city. Read by actress Mutiyat Ade-Salu, author Atinuke gives your kid some big themes about class division, poverty, gender equality, and the importance of community. And while that sounds heavy for a 4th-grader to comprehend, the other side, like her struggles living with her extended family and going to school, are relatable for American kids.
Hooray For Anna Hibiscus Read By Mutiyat Ade-Salu
A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Who knew Lemony Snicket sounded just like Tim Curry? The former Sweet Transvestite from transexual Transylvania plays the narrator, several iterations of villains with weird accents, and, of course, the kids who are the main characters. Bonus: He sticks it out for the whole Unfortunate Events series — that’s about 4 straight days worth of listening pleasure.
Ages: 8 – 12
A Series Of Unfortunate Events Read By Tim Curry
The Wizard Of Oz
Anne won an Audie (think Grammy, but less prestigious, because it’s for audio books) for reading the The Wizard Of Oz. Oh sure, it’s easy for an Oscar-winning actress to inhabit Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and not one, but 2 witches. But a munchkin. That’s some De Niro-level method acting.
Ages: 8 – 14
Wizard Of Oz Read By Anne Hathaway
A Man On The Moon
Turns out Balki Bartokomous is a well sought after voice for audio books. In this 23-hour educational journey, the man from Mypos takes listeners to the moon and back. If your kid loves everything space, this recording includes interviews with the 23 astronauts who’ve made the trip, covering all the Apollo Missions. And there’s a special forward by Tom Hanks. (He once played an astronaut.)
A Man On The Moon Read By Bronson Pinchot
Winnie The Pooh
Dame Judi Dench has the kind of sweet grandmotherly voice you’d expect from an 81-year-old. But, unlike your Nana, she’s achieved damehood for being a Shakespearean legend. Other British heavy hitters like Stephen Frye, Jane Horrocks, Geoffrey Palmer, and Michael Williams contribute to different stories in the 100-acre wood. As a side bonus, you do get to hear Dame Dench say, “poo” a lot.
Ages: 4 – 6
Winnie The Pooh Read Read By Judi Dench