Roald Dahl Would Be 100 Today, And We Would Be Different People Without Him

Celebrate with excerpts from your favorite books, voiced by Hugh Laurie, Kate Winslet, Stephen Fry, and others — including Roald Dahl himself.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone at Audible who doesn’t get all moony-eyed at the mention of Roald Dahl. (Including a staffer who recently wrote a beautiful storyabout reading Dahl out loud to his infant son as he recovered from surgery.)

My second-grade teacher, Mr. O’Neill, read aloud from James and the Giant Peach after lunch every day, committing to all the voices like a career thespian. I swear, it was his turn as the malevolent aunts Sponge and Spiker that inspired me to later study theater and writing, which set the course for my life.

Audible editor Diana Dapito has a similar origin story. “The Witches was my first introduction to Dahl’s wonderfully imaginative world,” she says, “courtesy of my beloved fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Kozick, who would spend the best 30 minutes of each day reading to us from this sometimes dark but always fun and engaging book.” She adds that her first and best love was Matilda, with whose protagonist she always shared a passion for books. What is it about Roald Dahl that has such a hold on us? Diana nails it: “Dahl gives his young audience protagonists who are smart and (usually) kind; he trusts they can handle characters who aren’t always what they seem and stories that aren’t always sugarcoated.” 

As every grade-school teacher seems to know, Roald Dahl’s books were simply made to be performed out loud. Indulge in some excerpts from your favorites, courtesy of our friends at Listening Library:

"Enter Dahl Audio Collection Soundcloud"

For a behind-the-mic look at how the audiobooks were made, here’s a mini-documentary featuring Kate Winslet, Stephen Fry, David Walliams, and other beloved performers in the studios.

Happy birthday, Mr. Dahl — and thank you.

Photo credit Jan Baldwin, © RDNL 2016

Aside from Mr. O’Neill and Ms. Kozick, here are the peachiest people to perform Dahl aloud:

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