This summer I received a tricky question at the reference desk: "We're going on a road trip—do you have any audiobooks that everyone in my family will like?"
It can be hard to find an audiobook title that is engaging for parents as well as younger readers, while still having content that is appropriate for everyone. Here are a few options that will pass the hours a little more easily, and hopefully ensure that everyone arrives at the destination in a good mood.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is an adventure-filled children’s classic much like Alice in Wonderland. The tale of Milo, who journeys across the Kingdom of Wisdom in a toy car, will keep younger readers intrigued, and the wordplay and witty writing will make it fun listening for parents as well.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead tells the story of twelve year old Miranda, who starts receiving mysterious notes hinting at time travel and a puzzle to be unravelled. Excellent, well chosen writing and issues of family, friendship and the “bigger picture” make this a good pick for all ages. Fans of Madeleine L'Engle will also enjoy references and similarities in theme to A Wrinkle in Time.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is a good choice for families with upper elementary and middle grade readers. In this novel, an orphan boy is left in a graveyard to be raised by ghosts. The clever, dark storytelling will also appeal to teen readers and adults who have enjoyed Gaiman’s other books such as Coraline and Good Omens.
In One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, three sisters are sent to live with their emotionally distant mother for the summer in Oakland, California in the 1960s. The author weaves historical and political elements such as the Black Panthers together with wonderfully dimensional characters, which will draw in listeners from late elementary school onward.
For young adult readers and their parents, I suggest Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. It is a great pick for anyone who has loved other dystopian books such as “The City of Ember”. Bacigalupi is a master of suspense and excitement, and the theme of climate change could make for an interesting discussion afterward.
If you have a smart device, mp3 player or eReader, you can also check out the Audiobook options on the Maryland eLibrary Digital Consortium. There are plenty of great titles to download remotely if you can’t get into a branch before your trip, or if you run out of entertainment while you are on the road!