Family Traveling for the Holidays? Bring Along an Audiobook!

by on November 8th, 2017

Each year, while traveling literally over the river and through the woods to southeastern Michigan for Thanksgiving, I’m determined that the family unity and togetherness will start the moment we back out of the driveway. Translation: no screens, kids. Instead, I cue up an audiobook I’ve carefully selected for family listening pleasure. It can be a challenge to find something that everyone is engaged by – but when I do, it makes the miles zip by. Some we’ve enjoyed recently:

Thumbnail The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, 2014

This was a hit with everyone in the car – my 55-year-old mother-in-law, my husband, my “tween” daughter and my 6-year-old. It moves fast, and it’s written in verse – who doesn’t enjoy listening to poetry read aloud? Those who are into sports will enjoy it, as it’s about a pair of basketball-star twins and their exploits on the court, but it has plenty for the non-sports-fan as well – it’s just as much about family relationships, loyalty, and coming-of-age.

 

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 2012

This book about a fifth-grader with a facial abnormality is an excellent bridge to a family discussion about inclusion and kindness. The life of the protagonist has been shaped by the reactions of others to his striking physical differences, despite being a totally “regular kid” on the inside, and now he’s about to start at a new middle school. Different actors narrate the sections of this book, which are told from the perspective of a variety of characters. The dialogue and situations feel very authentic, and the message hits home without being heavy-handed or precious. You’ll be ready to see the screen adaptation that comes out this month!

 

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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, 2009

A one-of-a-kind historical sci-fi/mystery so suspenseful that you won’t want to press pause at a rest stop! Miranda tries to unravel who – or what – is behind the prophetic notes that keep appearing in her personal items. Other mysterious characters and unexplained events pop up, and there seems to be no earthly way all these intriguing but disparate elements could possibly be tied together by the end – but they are. Also, time travel, if you’re into that.

 

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Ghost by Jason Reynolds, 2016

Ghost is a gifted sprinter, and when he impulsively tries out for a local track team, a tough-love coach sees potential in him. But Ghost has to learn to control his anger to become a team player and succeed on the track. The audiobook is engagingly narrated by the author, who brings laugh-out-loud personality to the coach’s dialogue. This book was recently named the 2018 All Iowa Kids Read selection, so listening to it would be a great way for all your kids to participate at once.

 

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Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm, 2016

10-year-old Beans Curry cooks up schemes and gets into scrapes during one summer in Depression-era Key West. Adults will be fascinated by the historical details of how Key West was deliberately remade from an isolated and impoverished island community into a hot tourist attraction – this novel is based on true events – while kids will thrill to Beans’ wacky adventures and wonder what he’ll do next. Narrated by the author, fans of Holm’s popular Babymouse series will not be disappointed in this listening experience.

 

These audiobooks are available on CD at the library, or in digital, downloadable format via OverDrive. Happy listening, and happy, harmonious traveling this season!

 

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