We spend a lot of time in the car, especially during the summer, and though we all love music, stories have been winning out lately, even on short trips around town. As a reminder that summer reading can also be summer listening, the following is a list of audio books that have worked for all of our family members, including my husband, who can be a little hard to please in this department. Actually, we all can. There are audio books we’ve returned immediately, just because the person reading it has been wrong, wrong, wrong. (Which makes me quake a little, as I wait to see who will read the audio version of my own book.) Note, my listing is in no particular order. As it’s audio appreciation month, I think I’m going to go ahead and put the listing under the names of the readers instead of the authors.
Jim Dale, who reads the Harry Potter series. My kids think he’s a rock star, and both believe listening to his narration was even better than the movies. Only negative is that my husband and I have to try to do those same voices when we do a rereading of HP. I do a great Dumbledore, and my husband does a grand McGonagall, but that’s about as far as we get. We’ve also listened to Dale on Peter and the Star Catchers and A Christmas Carol. Stellar, both.
Oliver Wyman, who reads Adam Rex’s Cold Cereal. Adam Rex has a huge and varied cast of characters, so lucky thing he was paired up with Wyman, who has incredible range. Biggs. Emily. Mick. Scott. My kids wanted to stay in the car and keep listening after we arrived at our destination.
Mark Turetsky: Narrator of Origami Yoda series and Wendy Mass’s The Candymakers, among others. We picked up Wendy Mass’s book based on the narrator alone, and now we’re fans of both. We love the way he did Tommy for OY; we would follow him anywhere.
Kirby Heyborne: Cosmic. We will read anything by Frank Cottrell Boyce to begin with, so it wasn’t hard for Kirby Heyborne to win us over with the narration on this one. I just saw he’s also worked on Gone Girl. Excited to listen (but not with the kids). We were also huge fans of Framed, which was read by Jason Hughes.
Lana Quintal: I am pro Junie B. Jones, and always have been. I have been known to argue with parents who are in the other camp the way I argue with fans of the Yankees. Or Duke. What I should have done was just hand out audio versions read by Lana Quintal. If you are NOT pro Junie B, Lana is the person to help you see the light. She reads these books with pluck and sensitivity and humor, humor, humor. She also does narration on the Dork Diaries.
Lynn Redgrave: I will not forget the screeching of the head witch in The Witches for a long time. The late actress also read the Chronicles of Narnia, though we haven’t gone there yet. Soon!
Neil Patrick Harris: Of COURSE Neil Patrick Harris is Henry Huggins. An easy sell. What’s not to love?
Kevin Free and Katherine Kellgren: The kids loved the Percy Jackson series, but when it came to audio books, it was the performances on the Kane Chronicles that really drew us in. Katherine K does a great job with Angie Sage’s Araminta Spookie books as well.
Joshua Swanson: The narrator of Riordan’s second Olympus series. Swanson led us, in turn, to Aliens on Vacation, which was a car hit last summer. Aside from acting and producing, it turns out Swanson has a pool business, another summer reading tie-in.
Daniel Pinkwater: Great readings of great works that Pinkwater makes available for free on his web site. We have listened to The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death countless times, along with Borgel and Lizard Music. We LOVE these books. Love them. And love speculating about how much Pinkwater Wes Anderson must have read as a kid.