Yes, the source text matters. But audiobooks live and die by the sound of their narrator’s voice. Imagine what Charlotte’s Web would be like read by Gilbert Gottfried. Or what a macabre event Winnie The Pooh would be recorded by Tom Waits. A masterfully performed book on tape can be the parenting jack-of-all-trades: it lulls your baby to sleep, gets your older kid into reading, and keeps everyone sane on long car rides. For your next download, check out some of the finest talents in the book narrating biz.
Dale is the Meryl Streep of audiobooks. Yes, he’s a prolific stage actor, but probably better recognized for narrating dozens of works, including the septet of Harry Potter readings. And unlike your lazy character-acting, Dale morphs his trademark baritone into a different voice for every character in each book. He did this for 134 voices in The Order of the Phoenix. If Horcruxes and incantations aren’t your thing, he also did versions of Peter Pan, Around the World In 80 Days, and A Christmas Carol.
The beloved children’s lit author has a close relationship with oral storytelling. According to legend, he developed the character of Stuart Little in stories he told to his 18 nieces and nephews as a young man. You may have heard Charlotte’s Web or The Trumpet of the Swan done by others, but White’s own performances are especially memorable. His…