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Our secret to road trip survival: David Walliams’ audio books!

car journeys
David Walliams audio books

We’ve been doing A LOT of driving over the past five months, something that might seem seriously unappealing to most parents, especially with a carload of restless children, but which we’ve found to be quite fun and exciting. The secret lies in David Walliams and his hilarious audio books. The kids actually look forward to long car drives, and Michael and I find it really relaxing to hop in the car, explore new territory, have a car full of quiet children (!!) and be entertained along the way.

David Walliams narrates all his books himself, using hilarious accents and comedic delivery. The stories, while often funny and sometimes even outrageous, are also endearing and warm. The children’s favourites so far have been Awful Auntie, Billionaire Boy, and Gangster Granny, but it was difficult for them to choose favourites as they have loved them all. Walliams has just come out with his newest book, Grandpa’s Great Escape, and we’re all looking forward to our next road trip to hear it.

We use the Audible app on our phone to download the audio books and it’s been super handy. We alternate David Walliams’ books with more serious stories, just so the kids don’t come to think that all books are hilarious and whacky. (Some of the more serious books we’ve heard this year have been ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘The Call of the Wild’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the stories in the C.S. Lewis ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series.

Courtney x


Comments (13)

January 18, 2016

Thanks Courtney for recommending these! We are big audio tape junkies! We listen to them at home and in the car all the time, and it is true how they are just great for long car trips. It took us 12 hours to get home from the Alps after New Year, and we listened to tapes all the way, the children were not complaining or cranky at all. We often listen to audio tapes my husband and I have already listened to when we were little, it’s so nostalgic and all the memories are coming back. Love it! xx

January 18, 2016

What a good idea – we always did this when I was little and we travelled to France on our summer holiday.

We have some road trips coming up as we are taking the children to Southern Africa for an extended half-term (our school has added a lot of the teacher development days to the spring holiday so it made a perfect opportunity for us to see friends who live down there) and I was kind of dreading the discussion about carsickness vs using the ipad. I didn’t realise how easy it was to get an audio book – I’ll be stocking up tonight!

January 18, 2016

We have loved reading some of the David Walliams books I must download some of the audio versions! We listen to stories everyday in the car on the school runs (mainly German) but you would love the Olivia stories narrated by Dame Edna Everage – what I love is they’ve used really clever music composition to replace the pictures in the book so they’ve been able to stay true to the exact texts! My kids are loving the Famous Five books (in German) at the moment and they always love Astrid Lingren stories but it really depends how well they are produced. Happy happy travels Adamo friends! X

January 18, 2016

Isn’t Audible great?! We love it too. Have you listened to The Borrowers yet….the first three of those books are so fun!

January 18, 2016

Just a question … All sounds great but do the girls ( the younger kids ) like the older audio books – David Willian’s is aimed at 8 years old and up ? I would have thought they would be bored by thr more complex story ? ( or it might be inappropriate? ) Then Making noise and driving the older siblings nuts by interrupting ….. And as for my 5 year old sitting though to kill a mocking bird – I just can’t imagine it ….
Love the idea and delighted it works so well for all of you – sorry for picking

Courtney in London
January 23, 2016

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for your comment! We did have to push the pause button several times through ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ to explain the story to Ivy (our 6-year-old), but in the end, she understood the majority of the story and it made for some really interesting discussions in the car. We have since referenced that book several times. It might have been a bit grown-up for her, but I don’t think this is a reason not to play it for her. I suppose in the same way that tiny babies don’t understand when we speak to them, but it doesn’t stop us from talking. I believe it’s better to stretch their minds and challenge them a little bit, than to choose really simple stories that might have their age listed on the front. (Saying this, we have just dowloaded some Julia Donaldson books for Marlow because she does get the short end of the stick in most cases – though she often takes a snooze in the car when the audio books go on.) Also, the David Walliams books are definitely not too grown up for our 6-year-old — she LOVES them!! I guess it’s really what works for you and your family, but I do believe it’s not such a bad thing to play (or read) more complex books. (I think back to when I was a child – I didn’t fully understand all the books I read. Having re-read them as a grown-up, there are so many things I picked up on that I completely overlooked as a child – but I still think it’s good that I read them!) Sorry for the long, rambling answer. 🙂 xx

Emilie in Paris
January 18, 2016

Love, love, love audio books. I think we have listened to every single Roald Dahl book whilst driving around the French countryside.

January 19, 2016

Bonjour Emilie,
J’adorais les audio book (en version cassette 😉 à l’époque ) !!!! Connaîtriez-vous ce genre d’audio book en version française?? Mille mercis. Stéphanie

January 23, 2016

Great to see this! We are always listening to audio books in our car and people always seem really surprised by that! Roald Dahl & Dr Seuss are favourite with everyone but the youngest two love Julia Donaldson ones! ☺️ They are brilliant on long journeys!

January 23, 2016

Courtney – I hope you don’t mind me asking what car seat Marlow is using? I’ve been carrying out endless searches online for something compact for my 2.5 year old for our holiday in Asia this spring without any success. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks.

January 26, 2016

sorry late late reply to your comment courtney – thanks for taking the time to respond – I will try the audio books and be a bit more adventurous in my choice for the kids!

August 12, 2016

This is a great tip, thanks! A big hit for me has been Magical Island. My kids (4 and 7) love it – they’re crazy about the magic and pirates theme, the music is rich and satisfying even for adults and the story has a great message about being brave in the face of fear.

July 12, 2017

[…] Audio Books — Ever since Courtney’s post on audio books I have started downloading books for our car journeys and never looked back since. – Emilie […]

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