Sunday, December 05, 2010

On the Road with Audiobooks!

Over Thanksgiving, my wife, son and i ended up taking a road trip that put us traveling 12 hours a day two days of that brief break.  Spending that much time in a vehicle is always daunting.  We have a media center that plays videos in the back, as well as allow video game systems to be plugged in, but it separates the group.

When the kids were smaller, that was okay.  They had their music players (and later the media center), and Sherry and I had audiobooks filled with mystery, suspense, and danger.  The older kids would occasionally listen in, but not many good audiobooks were made for kids.  Nothing really caught their attention.  And everybody (including Sherry) would die if I put in a Star Trek book or anything SF.


I love mysteries and suspense, but I want to spend part of my life exploring other worlds and solar systems.

Thankfully, kidlit has truly blossomed over the past few years.  Sherry, Chandler, and I absolutely LOVE traveling with kidlit audiobooks.  There's something for everyone in those stories.  And so many of them are fantasy or SF that provide plenty of interesting characters, active plots, and great dialogue.  Toss in a reader who has command of a range of voices, and it's definitely bliss.

Now we don't go on any long trips without loading up at the local library or buying some of our favorite series for the road.

I recommend:

The Pendragon series by D J MacHale
The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
Gordon Korman (anything because he's full of humor)
The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
The Dragon series by Cressida Cowell
The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld (although you're missing out on some really cool art!)

What we have discovered is that we enjoy sharing the story.  We stop the book from time to time and make guesses about what's going to happen, or we extrapolate on things we learned, or things that were just really cool.  Sometimes we adlib dialogue that should have been in the books or add our own plot twists that would have gone in very different directions.

I've imagined that this is what it was like back in the old days before television, before plays, and during times that even books were hard to get hold of.  A storyteller would descend in front of an audience, then spin out a tale that captured the imaginations of everyone there.  And the audience would whisper to each other, share thoughts and suspicions, and become totally immersed in the fiction.

If you haven't tried an audiobook during a long trip with the family, you should.  Everyone loves being read to, and you'd be surprised at how even teenagers will get sucked into a good narrative.  Experiment with authors and stories, and remember that you have to spend a little time developing an ear for this kind of entertainment.

My family loves it.  During this past Thanksgiving, we listened to three audiobooks.



Love The Ranger's Apprentice series (I alway have to get my adult son the new books as soon as they come out in Australia -- about a year before the US versions), and I've just discovered the Pendragon books.

Mel Odom said...

This is old fashioned storytelling, and the POV changes bug me a little, but I've adapted because it's a big story and I truly enjoy all the characters. I know we've got a lot of the same tastes, Paul.