In addition to the educational benefits, audiobooks are simply a great form of entertainment, making any long car journey pass in a flash or aiding relaxation before bedtime. From classic stories to fairy tales and new releases, there are so many audiobooks out there with a diverse variety of themes and storylines to tap into their imagination. Read by some big celebrity names who manage to truly bring the stories to life, children and parents alike will enjoy listening to some of these fantastic audiobooks.
David Walliams has been given the highly-coveted ‘Roald Dahl of our time’ title by many, and his audiobooks only seem to enhance this honour. His bestselling book Demon Dentist makes a wonderful audio version – both highly entertaining and heart-warming. Full of many laugh-out-loud moments, children will enjoy this tale of a mysterious dentist who rolls into town. All of a sudden, local kids start to find dead slugs or earwigs under their pillow, where the tooth fairy would once leave coins. Worse still, an appointment has been booked for Alfie to visit the evil dentist. Could he be behind the strange goings-on in the middle of the night? Listen to Demon Dentist to find out!
For the audio version of his book Mr Stink, Walliams has teamed up with Little Britain co-star and good friend Matt Lucas to read this twisted, hilarious novel. The two much-loved comedians use different voices and accents that are guaranteed to make your children roar with laughter. “Mr stink stank. He also stunk. And if it was correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well.” Chloe starts talking to Mr Stink (a tramp) one day – he’s the only person who’s ever been nice to her, after all. But there’s more to him than meets the eye (or nose!) and soon she is hiding him in her garden shed. As she struggles to keep him a secret, it appears Mr Stink has a secret of his very own! Your only complaint with this story might be the requests to listen to it again and again.
The nation’s favourite Dr Who star David Tennant reads all eight stories in this bumper Hairy MacLary CD collection, all set to atmospheric and lively music. The collection includes author Lynley Dodd’s rhyming stories ‘Hairy Maclary and Zackery Quack’, ‘Hairy Maclary’s Bone’ and ‘Hairy Maclary’s Caterwaul Caper’, amongst others. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hairy, he is the small dog hero of Dodd’s picture books, where he embarks on various adventures with his animal friends – usually pitched against his formidable opponent, the tomcat Scarface Claw. With a mesmerising rhyming verse, the words flow off Tennant’s tongue, and young children will love the repetition that allows them to anticipate what will follow.
Sure to be a hit with both children and adults, the Scottish star David Tennant once again uses his spot-on delivery to add spirit to Legendary Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III in his quest to catch a dragon. Tennant’s theatrical, enthusiastic narration is sure to please listeners of all ages. In this first volume of Cowell’s popular series, Hiccup manages to capture a dragon, naming him Toothless, and endeavours to use his own unique methods in order to train the creature. With believable accents and excellent pacing, Tennant makes How to Train Your Dragon (now a major Dreamworks franchise starring Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler) a must-listen, particularly for fans.
Kate Winslet is not just a multi-award-winning actress; she is also an established voice artist, previously narrating Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola and Mr Gum by Andy Stanton, amongst others. Here, she flawlessly captures four-year-old Matilda’s sweetness, strength and intelligence, giving a unique voice to each character – including the students at Crunchem Hall. In fact, her narration will make little listeners feel as though they are there at the school with Matilda, the delightful Miss Honey and the ghastly head teacher “The Trunchball”. As Matilda learns to tap into her psychic powers, children will be drawn into Dahl’s timeless, quirky tale, and will be delighted by the justice-served, happy-ever-after ending.
The first side-splittingly funny book in the ‘Mr Gum’ series by Andy Stanton is read, once again beautifully, by Kate Winslet. Mr Gum, a truly horrid old man, hates everything: children, animals, any kind of fun… and corn on the cob. This audiobook follows him, an angry fairy who resides in his bath, Jake the dog, an evil butcher and a little girl named Polly. Mr Gum is a larger-than-life character that children will love to hate – lazy, dirty and generally repugnant – and will find themselves in stiches thanks to Winslet’s excellent narration. Adults should enjoy this one as much as their kids.
Kate Winslet reads another Dahl classic – this one about Little Billy, who wanders into the forest one day and stumbles upon the Minpins – tiny people who live in the trees. The Minpins warn Little Billy about The Gruncher, who preys on them, which leads Billy to set off a mission to protect the Minpins from their enemy once and for all. He decides to board a swan and confront The Gruncher himself. As with all Dahl stories, magical events take place in order to bring about justice. This audiobook is well-suited to a broad age-range.
Known for his quirky and loveable character in British sitcom The IT Crowd, Richard Ayoade reads one of Roald Dahl’s most popular books The Twits. The audio version features new music to perfectly complement the twists, turns and pranks as we follow the most grotesque couple in literature – Mr and Mrs Twit. Prepare for your ears to be sizzled as you take in every funny second, with Ayoade bringing to life the practical jokes the pair play on each other (glass eyes in beer mugs, dinner plates of worms) and the family of mistreated pet monkeys – the Muggle-Wumps – as they prepare to take their own revenge.
This collection of audiobooks – all stories written by Roald Dahl – are all highly imaginative; targeted at young children with a good dose of silly fun. Stephen Fry does a great job with the voices in The Enormous Crocodile – a tale all about (you guessed it) an enormous crocodile who wants to get his teeth into children. His long-time friend and comedy partner Hugh Laurie also brings the characters to life in The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me with a range of voices – and even some singing!
Versatile character actor Jim Broadbent (who actually played Mr Gruber in the 2014 movie Paddington) teams up with Stephen Fry this time to narrate four charming Paddington stories, all brought together for the first time. Paddington Bear has been entertaining both children and parents alike with his hilarious misadventures for over five decades, and now these classic tales can be enjoyed via audiobook. Fry himself once said: “I’ve always had great respect for Paddington… He’s a British institution”. In this collection, the stories of the accident-prone bear are expertly told by another British institution.
This classic collection of five ‘Mog the Cat’ stories will be a favourite for any fans of Judith Kerr’s lovable feline. With a listening time of approximately an hour, the stories featured are ‘Mog and the Vee Ee Tee’, ‘Mog the Forgetful Cat’, ‘Mog and the Baby’, ‘Mog’s Christmas’ and ‘Mog’s Amazing Birthday Caper’, all narrated with sound effects and music to enhance the tales. Andrew Sachs is best known for his portrayal of Manuel in Fawlty Towers, but has also narrated many audiobooks in the past, including C.S Lewis’s ‘Narnia’ series and Thomas and the Tank Engine and Friends. The late Geraldine McEwan, an English actress who has a long career in theatre, film and television, also provides excellent characterisation.