Michelle Obama to voice special edition of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’

Audiobook fans can soon listen to former first lady Michelle Obama narrate Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” 

In honor of the 60th anniversary of the publication of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” Michelle Obama is partnering with HarperCollins Publishers and HarperCollins Audio to release a special audiobook edition of the children’s classic. The former first lady will narrate an unabridged version of the award-winning book. 

Michelle Obama Where the Wild Things Are, Michelle Obama audio book, Michelle Obama narrates banned books list 
Michelle Obama narrates a special edition of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (Photo: Miller Mobley; Cover Image: HarperCollins)

“One of Michelle Obama’s greatest joys is sharing the magic of storytelling,” said Melissa Winter, chief of staff at the office of Michelle Obama. “At the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, it became custom for the Obamas to read their favorite children’s books to the kids in attendance. They often read the timeless classic ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ a book that has inspired the imagination of generations and will undoubtedly do the same for kids in decades to come.” 

In addition to being one of the Obamas’ favorite books, Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” has been widely recognized for its groundbreaking exploration of children’s emotions. While it has won numerous awards, including the Caldecott Medal, Sendak’s book has also received backlash. In the years since its publishing, the book has been labeled as too dark, scary, and potentially traumatizing for children. 

“‘Wild Things’ ran into a lot of trouble when it was published,” said Sendak in 1989, per Slate. ”It was considered ugly. It was considered far-fetched. It was considered too frightening to children. [Austrian psychologist] Bruno Bettelheim denounced the book, which put a damper on it for a long time.”

While the book achieved great success over the past six decades and was even turned into a movie in 2009,  in several states, Sendak’s “Where Wild Things Are” is currently on a growing list of banned books. In recent years, activists have been fighting against widespread book bans as more and more notable books and authors — including once-revered children’s classics — are removed from the shelves of public libraries and school districts. Among those fighting literary censorship are the Obamas. 

“Today, some of the books that shaped my life—and the lives of so many others—are being challenged by people who disagree with certain ideas or perspectives,” Barack Obama wrote in a statement about banned books. “And librarians are on the front lines, fighting every day to make the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas available to everyone.” 

“Michelle and I want to thank these librarians for their unwavering commitment to the freedom to read,” he added.  

Michelle Obama’s “Where the Wild Things Are: Unabridged Audio Edition” will be available for download on Oct. 31, wherever audiobooks are sold. 

“Maurice Sendak would have been absolutely delighted with Mrs. Obama’s superb rendition of ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ and her strong commitment to children is much admired by us all in the Sendak household,” said Lynn Caponera, president and treasurer of the Maurice Sendak Foundation. “You’ll want to eat up the new audio edition of this timeless classic on its 60th birthday!”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. TheGrio’s Black Podcast Network is free too. Download theGrio mobile apps today! Listen to ‘Writing Black‘ with Maiysha Kai.