We’re heading out on a mammoth trip these holidays – well OK, we’re not exactly driving across the country, but we do have a big week and a half of travelling ahead of us. Today, we are heading up to Sydney, dropping the little two at my parents and spending the night at Homebush so that Hannah can compete at the State School Swimming Championships with her school relay team (very excited about that!). I’ve taken leave for the last two days of term so we will go drive from the Championships to the mountains and spend a few days with my family, before driving down to Narooma for a few days of just us by the beach. Sounds perfect, but there will be a lot of travelling in the car. In our family, car travel means listening to audio books. The kids adore them, and they make a long trip go so much faster.
With the Autumn holidays about to start here, I bet there are lots of other families heading out on the road, so I thought I would put together a list of our favourite audio books. All of these have been listened to by the whole family and have been approved by adults (well CB and myself) and children alike. Whether you download them before you go, or pick them up on CD in a shop on the way (I order several at a time online and have them delivered), you’re bound to enjoy these audiobooks!
The Gruffalo – Read by Imelda Staunton
This is a classic tale and doesn’t take long to listen to, but is still a good start, particularly for littlies. The voices are fantastic, and I know that Toby listens mesmerised each time we put it on.
Winnie The Pooh – Read by Alan Bennet
Confession: I have never read Winnie The Pooh. We have a couple of the books, but somehow, I have never really read them. We listened to the CD in the car on the way up to Magic Beach this year, and the kids still tell me that they need “a little something” from time to time. It’s also sufficiently entertaining for adults.
Ramona The Pest – Read by Stockard Channing
I read and loved Ramona as a child, and the whole family enjoyed listening to the various scrapes that Ramona manages to get herself into. Stockard Channing (who plays Rizzo in Grease, and Abigail Bartlet in The West Wing) voices the thoughts of a five year old girl so beautifully, and we were giggling out loud at Ramona’s antics.
The Faraway Tree – Read by Kate Winslet
I adored reading these books as a child, so I picked the Faraway Tree up when I saw it on special one day. Kate Winslet has the perfect voice for this old fashioned tale full of “jolly picnics” and “beastly goblins” and so forth. In this modern update, Jo, Bessie, and Fanny, have become Joe, Beth, and Franny, but the stories remain the same. Country Boy and I giggle about the parenting that appears to be going on, but as a child it didn’t worry me that Beth’s mum made a 6 year old do all the ironing, or that one week their father lost a large sum of money which was never explained. My kids loved listening to this one, and while it’s not my favourite, it isn’t bad either!
Roald Dahl – Read by several different actors
This box set was the first audio book I bought. The girls and I saw it at Costco in Sydney and bought it to listen to on the way home, and since then, audio books are part of all our travels. Some of the books such as Matilda take several hours to listen to, whilst others such as The Giraffe, The Pelly, And Me, take less than an hour. All are performed by actors such as Hugh Laurie and Miriam Margoyles. Classic tales that are brilliantly performed and will make you laugh out loud. My personal favourite is Danny The Champion Of The World.
Harry Potter Books 1 – 7 – Read by Stephen Fry
Strap yourself in for these ones because some of them are long! Book 5 (The Order Of The Phoenix) will easily do a couple of days on a road trip. Having said this the kids LOVE Harry Potter and we are currently listening to the series for the second time. Stephen Fry reads so well, doing different voices for the different characters. His voicing of Dolores Umbridge in Book 5 is fabulous. If you’re planning lots of time in the car, Harry Potter will definitely keep you entertained.
How To Train Your Dragon – Read by David Tennant
If you have seen the movie or watched the tv series “Dragon Riders of Berk” you will have a general idea about the book, but to be honest the book is much better than the movie (which was only loosely based on the book). The book is beautifully performed with different accents by David Tennant who really brings the story to life.
The Rangers Apprentice – Read by William Zappa
I gave this to Hannah for Christmas this year, having heard good things about it, though we haven’t read the books. She and I listened to it on the way up to Dubbo and back a few weeks ago, and we didn’t want to hop out of the car when we got home because we got to a good part. We have since listened to the rest of the story on a trip to Canberra, and I have got the second book in the series ready for our current trip.
The Narnia Series – Read by several different actors
This is another series we have listened to several times. The girls have read the books and watched the movies as well, but we still enjoyed listening to the books being read to us by actors such as Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Stewart.
How do you pass time during long car trips? What audiobooks can you recommend for the whole family?