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Audiobooks for the Whole Fam Damily

So you’re wondering how to keep your little darlings from turning into pterodactyls on your next road trip?

Screens can only take you so far…

Audiobooks to the Rescue

Because my family lives in a rural area, we spend a decent amount of time in the car (to and from school, to grandma’s, to my family’s cabin in central Idaho, to the beach) To pass the time, we’ve listened to hundreds (yes, really) of audiobooks.

If you plan to have children or “mixed company” in your vehicle during your next road trip or adventure, having a few of these handy for when the iPad/Kindle/gameboy dies/has catastrophic cloud storage failure/gets left behind will save you from the utter hell of trying to make miles while one or several of your passengers is crying.

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This is a story about a family, about war, and about a young girl overcoming momentous odds in order to not only survive, but build a new life. It’s also a 2016 Newberry Honor book and a winner of the 2016 Scheider Family Book Award.

Ten-year old Ada had never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside or even help her learn to walk with crutches. But when London is threatened by bombs and all children are being shipped to the countryside, Ada sneaks off with her younger brother Jamie.

Once in the care of a lonely spinster, Susan Smith, things start to change for Ada, but the years of neglect have taken their toll. Plus the war closes in on them, bringing new threats.

My kids and I were absolutely gripped by this tender, heartbreaking story that (of course, because it’s a kid’s story) ends perfectly. Not only did we experience the threat of war, but the rising determination of a young girl who is given a second chance, and who learns to seize it.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Another book about family with a tender storyline and a broken narrator who finds her way. Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle travels to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents. Along the way, she tells them the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, a girl who received a mysterious message, who met a “potential lunatic,” and whose mother disappeared.

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Pheobe’s outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold–the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.

The voice of the narrator is perfectly suited to this story which switches between each grandparent — characters in their own right — to Sal while the miles tick by. There’s excerpts from this story that my children and I still quote and I know at some point, each of them will read the book on their own, just to hear the characters speaking again in their mind.

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I feel like this series was created just for me. We discovered it at a time when my youngest daughter was having difficulty going to school (or anywhere, actually), so listening to the magical voice of Tim Curry who won Children’s Narrator of the Year in 2007 made all the struggles melt away.

The stories (there’s 19 in all, which carried us from the first day of school until Christmas) feature three orphans who, through a series of unfortunate events, must fight to preserve not only their family but their fortune from a distant family friend, the evil Count Olaf.

These audiobooks pack a double punch: not only is Tim Curry’s voice masterful and entertaining, but the stories are dark and twisty and suspenseful.

Here’s a quote from Curry: “Even though the books are essentially amusing stories of the very terrific adventures of wonderfully brave children, there are lots of literary jokes in there for their parents. And there’s a huge variety of characters throughout the books. The writing itself is so fresh it’s delightful to read. As each manuscript arrived in the letterbox, I tore it open. I couldn’t wait to read about what happened next. The stories were so marvelous, convoluted and exotic, and there were always new grim villains to play.”

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck

What happens when Joey and his sister, Mary Alice — two city slickers from Chicago — make their annual summer visits to Grandma Dowdel’s seemingly sleepy Illinois town? August 1929: They see their first corpse, and he isn’t resting easy. August 1930: The Cowgill boys terrorize the town, and Grandma fights back. August 1931: Joey and Mary Alice help Grandma trespass, poach, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry — all in one day.

And there’s more, as Joey and Mary Alice make seven summer trips to Grandma’s — each one funnier than the year before — in self-contained chapters that readers can enjoy as short stories or take together for a rollicking good novel. Not only will you wish for the story to keep playing when it ends, you’ll wish for a grandma like Grandma Dowdel.

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

This murder mystery on the moon will keep everyone guessing as twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson tries to solve who killed Moon Base Alpha’s top scientist.

After suffering the boredom of the moon base — kid’s aren’t allowed on the lunar surface and the only other kid Dash’s age spends all his time hooked into VR games — Dash jumps at the chance to find answers. But nobody on the base believes there’s been foul play.

I loved the combination of mystery, science, and family in this well-written story which continues with two more stories, most of which we devoured during a grueling road trip (note to self: buy the $20 map next time) in Costa Rica.

Audiobook News from Amy Waeschle

I’ve been talking about this for almost a year now, and I’m sad to say I’m only a tiny bit closer to being able to share audio versions of my books. I was 80% finished with recording Going Over the Falls, my popular mother-daughter reconciliation story, when disaster struck: the files became corrupted. I lost hours and hours of work. After I cried (narrating is actually hard work), I decided to put it aside for awhile.

But I’m back. With 25% of the population choosing audiobooks over books and ebooks, I’m starting the process again. I’ll most likely hire a narrator and distribute through a service for a share of the royalties. Now that I’ve been burned, however, I’ll likely start with a short story and see how it goes. To support this project, please visit my Patreon page. You can pledge in any amount, for as long as you want, cancel anytime, etc. In exchange, you’ll get free books, audiobooks, and special insider access to my work that nobody else will. So it’s more like a “pay in advance” system vs. a donation. Because each audiobook costs about $1,500-2,000 (yes, really) to produce, I’m not shy in asking for help.

I hope you and yours enjoy some great adventures this summer, and that you have great entertainment to help melt the miles.

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