Heading over the river and through the woods can take a little longer than usual during the holidays. When “the alphabet game” is old news and “Wheels on the Bus” is about to make your head spin round and round, queue up one of these recent audiobooks of classic children’s books read by celebs of today. Take a trip to Never Land—or maybe OZ—or to the fair fictional isle of Avonlea. Scroll down for nine stories that just might make your next road trip seem too short.
1. Anne of Green Gables read by Rachel McAdams
Just out on Nov. 22, and ready for your next long holiday ride/flight, Audible Studios has teamed up with the amazing Rachel McAdams (yep, now you have yet another reason to love her) to create an audiobook version of Lucy Laud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Pop it in the car player or invest in some earbud splitters so you can cuddle up with the kiddos in flight, because you are going to want to re-live every word of this story with your kids. Delight in the adventures of Anne with an “e” (raspberry cordial, anyone?) just like you did back in the day. Listen to the full book before enjoying the upcoming Netlfix adaptation and the PBS remake coming soon.
Length: 9 hrs. and 30 min.
Suggested age range: 9-12 (but our editor swears she read this when she was 7)
2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer read by Nick Offerman
Well, thanks to this audiobook, if it’s not already”sagacity” will soon be part of your regular vocab. Just like you (hopefully) did in school, the story will also give you a chance to talk about race issues and commonly used words that today we don’t use (and why). Offerman makes this the next best thing to getting in a time machine and heading back to 1876 to hear Twain read it out loud to you himself.
Length: 7 hrs. and 52 mins.
Suggested age range: 8-12
3. Peter Pan read by Lily Collins
Your kids might recognize her as Snow White from the movie Mirror, Mirror but this time Collins is in the middle of a whole new fairy tale: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Listen to the adventure of Wendy and the Lost Boys as you make your way to your in-laws or maybe just as you and the kiddos drift off to sleep. Either way, this classic will never be the same for you. And we mean that in the best way possible.
Length: 4 hrs. and 51 min.
Suggested age range: 8 and up, possibly younger for kids familiar with the story
4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland read by Scarlett Johansson
Lewis Carroll’s story of the girl who fell down the rabbit hole comes to life in a whole new way thanks to the voice of Scarlett Johansson. From the beginning to the end, you’ll be lost in the chase as you join Alice as she follows the White Rabbit, argues time with the Mad Hatter and negotiates nonsense with the a hookah-smoking caterpillar.
Length: 2 hrs. and 44 min.
Suggested age range: 7-11 but we think this one could skew younger thanks to familiarity with the Disney cartoon
5. Appleblossom the Possum read by Dustin Hoffman
You’ll fall in love with this possum family sure to become a family favorite. Author Holly Goldberg Sloan’s detailed, descriptive storytelling is a delicious mix of fictional characters and animal facts, while Dustin Hoffman’s voice aptly captures the sentiment of this tale about growing up. His crisp narration brings alive its vivid cast of characters: Appleblossom the spunky runt, Ajax the pest, Antonio the brainy, and Amlet the dramatic. Their fun adventures captivate the imagination.
Length: 3 hrs. and 30 min.
Suggested age range: 6-10
Purchase: audible.com/appleblossomthe possum
6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz read by Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway lends her sprightly voice to bring young Dorothy alive, skipping along the yellow brick road. She captures the awe and curiosity of Dorothy wonderfully and gives voice to the great variety of characters she meets: the Munchkins, scarecrow, and the Wicked Witch of the East to name a few. Unlike Dorothy and the Lion who were lulled to sleep by the beautiful field of poppies, we bet your little ones will stay wide awake with Hathaway’s captivating performance.
Length: 3 hrs. and 51 min.
Suggested age range: 8-14
7. The Night Before Christmas read by Jeff Bridges
Save this short gem for the very end of your drive as you anticipate the magic of Christmas. This brand-new version of The Night Before Christmas features Jeff Bridges as narrator. The book’s beautiful illustrations unfold landscape-style— adding to the charm of the story. Bridge’s voice, with its mixture of soothing, gruff and sweet tones brings Santa alive as the family delights in picturing jolly St. Nick fill the stockings again and again.
Length: 4 min., 28 pp.
Suggested age range: 1-101
8. Matilda read by Kate Winslet
During your family travels, take along spunky, brilliant Matilda as she escapes to new lands through books. Kids are sure to laugh aloud with her as she pulls pranks on mean-spirited adults like her father, Mr. Wormwood working his second hand car garage in his garish clothes. Kiddos will crack up as Kate Winslet dives into each character, immersing them in the distinct, realistic British voices.
Length: 4 hrs. and 30 min.
Suggested age range: 8-10. (Note: Best for bigger kids who can handle the idea of not-so-idealistic adults. You may want to preface your listening with a discussion of the language you’ll hear such as “Shut up” and “stupid.”)
9. The Velveteen Rabbit read by Meryl Streep
Need to calm a rowdy carload? Captivate your clan with this timeless, sweet classic made even more stunning by Meryl Streep’s gentle, soothing voice and the magical piano playing of George Winston. Share the beautiful message of being loved with those you love. As the story winds down and the delicate piano continues, you may just create Christmas magic by getting them all to wink off to sleep.
Length: 25 min.
Suggested age range: 5-7, but the message is irresistible to kids of all ages and kids at heart
Have you tried any audible books for your car or plane rides? What’s your favorite?
— Amber Guetebier & Cherie Gough
all photos courtesy Audible