Summer vacation is fantastic. The pool, the beach, the museum, the amusement parks, and all those hours spent in the car getting there. Ok, maybe not everything about summer vacation is amazing. One way to liven up a long drive is to build an audiobook library. Today’s audiobooks are so much easier to carry around than the days of cassettes; I can still picture my Dad with his folder of Star Trek Books on Tape. Now you can download the digital file, a CD, or you can use the Nook App and carry entire novels in your smartphone.
For our family there are two major perks of audiobooks on long car trips: they help pass the hours, and they can help your kids get ahead on their reading for the next school year. (But don’t tell them I said that.) Here are a few tried and true classics that sound great in the car, won’t drive you crazy, and may help give kids that extra bump they need to get ahead.
Green Eggs and Ham and other Servings of Dr. Seuss, by Dr. Seuss
This audiobook is actually a compilation of multiple Dr. Seuss classics, including Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Fox in Socks, and Hop on Pop. The rhymes, colors, and descriptions will keep those busy toddler and preschool brains engaged, and the performances of Jason Alexander, David Hyde Pierce, and Michael McKean will entertain adults as well.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll is another master of fun world play, vivid images, and memorable characters. Along the way it can be fun to pause the book and repeat a favorite poem (mine is “A Whiting And A Snail,”) or act out scenes with stuffed animals in the backseat. This version of Alice should help keep the entire family happy, and maybe, just maybe, help stretch out the time before someone asks “Are we there yet?”
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Before becoming a series of epic movies, J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit set Bilbo Baggins on what would become a world-changing adventure. Often school districts list The Hobbit as a 6-8th level book, but for many kids it is simply a timeless adventure. The Hobbit can be read alone, without reading The Lord of the Rings, or it can springboard into more time listening to the tale of Middle Earth. Listening to The Hobbit as a family may also be a great way to introduce young adults to the epic fantasy genre.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
For families with older kids it is never too early to start on the classics, and teenagers will find that they can relate to Scout, Boo and Atticus. Not only does this book make a frequent appearance on ninth grade reading lists, its author, Harper Lee, is now all over the news with the publication of her only other published book, Go Set a Watchman. This fantastic listen won’t just entertain your family, it will also help spark some important family discussions about justice. Not a bad way to spend a road trip.
For that rare time you’re the only one in the car:
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
I was too busy being pregnant and cranky to read Gone Girl when it came out, and too wiped out taking care of an infant when Ben Affleck stared in the movie. Now, when I get a little time in the car to myself, I put on the audiobook. I can finally join in the chat with other the parents at the park while our kids burn off their ever-enviable supply of energy.
Do you have any audiobooks that you, or your kids, love to listen to in the car?