By Candyce H. Stapen
If there’s a road trip in your family’s future, there should be an audiobook in your car’s CD player or downloaded to a radio-enabled app.
An audiobook played for everyone isn’t just about keeping the kids from fidgeting and fighting. It’s about the power of shared storytelling, the ability to be transported with your children to someplace special and the bonus of sharing thoughts and feelings afterwards.
Every year the Audio Publishers Association (APA) awards Audies to notable audiobooks. We’ve selected some Audie winners as well as additional popular works and literary classics that will add fun to your family road trip and inspire conversation afterward.
H.O.R.S.E, by Christopher Myers, read by Dion Graham and Christopher Myers
Two friends challenge each other to a game of H.O.R.S.E, a contest of basketball skill in which the player who fails to make his basket gets a letter from the word “horse.” The first player with all the letters loses. The book’s game starts with a player boasting of his half-court shot done standing backwards on one foot and thrown over his left shoulder. That should get the attention of the recommended listeners, as young as ages 4 to 6 to the older kids.
The AudioFile reviewer calls the one-on-one that’s played in the story “an impossible game that quickly moves beyond the court into the realm of the fantastic and all the way into outer space.” The reviewer praises the audiobook, saying, “The entire production is infused with infectious energy and good-natured competitive fun.” At 11 minutes, the tale is perfect for the short attention span of young children and just right for teens agreeing to listen in.
The Hero’s Guide to Being An Outlaw, The Hero’s Guide Series, Book 3,
by Christopher Healy, read by Bronson Pinchot
A King, four Prince Charmings, as well as Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty inhabit this slightly off-kilter fairytale world made a bit more strange and enjoyable for listeners by Pinchot’s narration. “He's particularly good at making ogres sound like monsters and making the book an enjoyable romp,” says the AudioFile reviewer who labels the book “silly and quirky but full of adventure and derring-do.” Although rated for ages 8 and older, younger children might have enough of the familiar make-believe landscape to be able to follow the basics while the twists and character affectations grab the attention of older listeners, including adults. 10.75 hours in length.
More good choices:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney, read by Ramon de Ocampo
Fans of this popular series as well as adults new to the titles will laugh as Greg Heffley, the 11-year-old wimpy kid, relates his family’s road trip, complete with a fender bender, flat tires and gas station bathrooms. “De Ocampo’s wavering high tones and quick pacing capture the young teen’s satirical observations on a family road trip—including his mother’s continued attempts at family bonding activities and his fondness for his little brother,” says AudioFile. Rated for ages 8 and older, the Wimpy Kid books appeal to pre-teens but feature enough attitude to interest teens and adults (especially those on a road trip). Young grade-schoolers will get the basics of the road trip markers, especially since they are sitting through their own. 1.75 hours in length.
Fall of the House of Usher, the Pit and the Pendulum: Other Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by Edgar Allan Poe, read by William Roberts
Have a car full of pre-teens and teens? Have them leaning forward in their seats to find out what happens next in Edgar Allan Poe’s tales of mystery and the macabre. Poe’s stories are well-suited for the episodic nature of car rides (stretches of driving broken up by rest stops and meals). The noted 19th-century American writer felt that the perfect length for a literary work was one that could be read in a single seating. The audiobook features the title short stories as well as more plots filled with horror and revenge, including “The Cask of Amontillado” and the “Masque of the Red Death.” Even if your teens have covered these works in school, hearing the tales read aloud may foster a whole new case of goose bumps and appreciation. Several different compendiums of Poe’s tales are available from Audible.com, Audiobooks.com, Audiobookco.com and other vendors.
Looking for a road-trip worthy destination? Start browsing vacation rental homes in top beach, ski, mountain and theme park spots.
Long-time family travel guru Candyce H. Stapen writes for many publications and outlets. She has written 30 travel guidebooks, including two for National Geographic.