This list of YA audiobook performers was originally published in our YA newsletter, What’s Up In YA. Sign up for it here to get YA news, reviews, deals, and more!
Often, when we think about audiobooks, we think about the author of the book itself. But who are some of the performers behind those books, if the author isn’t doing the performance? Let’s take a look today at six of today’s biggest and most interesting YA audiobook performers, with a little about who they are, as well as a look at a handful of the YA audiobooks they’ve performed.
Crouch is a multi-award winning audiobook performer based in New York City. He’s not only done audiobooks, though. He’s also the voice behind a number of commercials, cartoons, video games like Grand Theft Auto, and anime, including Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon. He’s done over 250 audiobooks so far in his career, including YA books like The Serpent King, Salt To the Sea, Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, and They Both Die at The End.
You may be familiar with Graham’s name because he’s from HBO’s The Wire. But you may also know him as the award-winning voice behind numerous audiobooks, as well as a performer on and off Broadway and the voice behind The First 48 on A&E. He’s even been one of the voices behind a Star Wars video game.
Nankani is not originally an audiobook or voice performer, but rather comes from a theater background, and in addition to the performances she does now, she’s involved in creating equity and inclusion across the arts and cultural nonprofit spaces. She cofounded the Center for Performance and Civid Practice, which “supports the efforts of artists looking to use their artistic assets to transform systems and improve the impacts of government and community-driven efforts and programs.”
Nankani focuses her selected audiobook performances in this space as well, working on books by and featuring South Asian and Black experiences — she’s done over 200! Some of her YA narrations include A River of Royal Blood, Star Daughter, You’ve Reached Sam, and Internment.
Even if you’re not a huge audiobook listener, chances are Turpin’s name is one you recognize pretty readily. She’s not only an audiobook performer with an incredible array of accolades behind her, she’s also a film and screen actor. She’s been in the documentary film Malcolm X, as well as part of A&E’s Cold Case Files. (She was also Ms. Jenson in Britney Spears’s film Crossroads).
One of my favorite performers, perhaps because she was one of my first introductions to how great audiobooks can be, is Julia Whelan. Whelan landed a breakout role at the age of 14 in the show Once and Again, but when it ended, rather than continuing on, she went to school and landed in academia . . . for a bit. She decided to go back to acting and performing, beginning a career where she could do audiobook narration, writing, and acting. You might know her from her spots on shows like NCIS: LA and Castle or her book My Oxford Year.
Emily Woo Zeller
Zeller has not only earned a number of distinctions for her vocal performances, but she’s also been the voice behind a number of film and television dubbings in Southeast Asia. She’s a trained and distinguished dancer, an award-winning actress, and the voiceover behind commercials for companies ranging from IKEA to Nikon to The Disney Channel.
If you’ve been hesitant to try an audiobook or are looking for what to tune into next, you cannot go wrong with perusing the titles and performers above.