Planning a road trip this summer? With a car full of kids, it can be a bit of a challenge to keep the peace without breaking out the iPads. Playing an audiobook is a great way to entertain the entire family, and it will give you something to talk about at rest stop breaks. Whether you have young kids, middle schoolers or teens, we have a suggestion for you.
GREAT FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLERS
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
This is the first book in the Series of Unfortunate Events, which tells the misadventures of the three Baudelaire siblings who become orphans in the first chapter of the series.
The books are narrated by the deliriously funny Tim Curry along with a team of talented readers.
Time: 2 hours and 31 minutes; approximately the time it would take to drive to Breckenridge.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
This classic series of the Chronicles of Narnia will capture the hearts of the entire family. It tells the story of four ordinary British children who find a wardrobe that leads them to the magical land of Narnia.
The reader is an acclaimed actor; his narration will keep your mind firmly in Narnia.
Time: 4 hours and 21 minutes; approximately a drive to Crested Butte.
George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Stephen Hawking & Lucy Hawking
The brilliant theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has partnered with his daughter, Lucy, to write a funny, Dr. Who-like adventure that will inspire curiosity about the universe to all ages.
It is narrated by the actor Hugh Dancy.
Time: 5 hours and 28 minutes; approximately a trip out to Ouray.
Flora And Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
A laugh-out-loud adventure story of a cynic (Flora) who meets an unlikely superhero (Ulysses)—who is also a squirrel. An incident with a vacuum cleaner instills him with powers of strength, flight and misspelled poetry.
Time: 4 hours and 31 minutes; approximately a drive to Aspen.
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
If your children loved Harry Potter, they will be delighted by this series. The Grace children discover the faerie world is closer than you think after finding a mysterious field guide in the attic of the new ramshackle mansion they moved into. This audiobook covers the first two books The Field Guide and The Seeing Stone.
Time: 2 hours and 8 minutes; approximately a drive to Fort Collins.
PERFECT FOR MIDDLE GRADES
Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The first in an epic trilogy of fantasy. It is a coming of age story of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry as they journey through parallel universes.
The audiobook has full cast narration that is fantastic.
Time: 10 hours and 35 minutes; approximately a trip to the Grand Canyon
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The book opens with a scary scene—a family is stabbed to death by a man named Jack, but it quickly moves to more child-friendly storytelling. The sole survivor is a toddler who slips away to a graveyard. Recognizing the baby as an orphan, the ghosts of the graveyard adopt him and name him Nobody; he lives among the tombs.
The audiobook is another full cast narration whose talent brings the characters to life.
Time: 8 hours and 26 minutes; approximately a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Whimsical series featuring hapless Arthur Dent who is plucked off Earth before it is demolished by his friend Ford Prefect, who is actually an alien who is a researcher for the revised edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
This is a full cast performance that makes the irreverent story come to life.
Time: 3 hours; approximately a trip to Glenwood Springs.
Redwall by Brian Jacques
This is the first in the Redwall series, which features animals in a Medieval fantasy land where they go on quests and wage battles.
Time: 12 hours and 38 minutes; approximately a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
A fast paced adventure about Peter and his mates as they set sail abroad the Never Land, a ship carrying precious and mysterious cargo. They encounter treacherous pirates and foreboding storms along their journey. It’s a fresh new look at Peter Pan.
Jim Dale is the narrator; he also narrated the Harry Potter series.
Time: 8 hours and 39 minutes; approximately a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is an entertaining guide taking listeners along the Appalachian Trail introducing us to the history of the trail and some hardy folks he meets while hiking the trail.
Time: 9 hours and 47 minutes; a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Vowell takes us on a road trip to sites of political violence from Washington DC to Alaska. She exposes the conundrums of American history with an irreverent sense of humor.
Several guests narrate the book including Conan O’Brien as Robert Todd Lincoln, Stephen King as President Abraham Lincoln, and Jon Stewart as President James A. Garfield.
Time: 7 hours and 24 minutes; roundtrip to Steamboat Springs
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Humorist David Sedaris presents a collection of hilarious stories as a transplant in Paris. The audiobook is read by David Sedaris.
Time: 5 hours and 51 minutes; approximately a trip to Montrose.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A dystopian tale of a society where women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes. It is read by actress Claire Dane.
Time: 11 hours; approximately roundtrip to Durango
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Actors Clive Merrison and Michael Williams star as Holmes and Watson in this collection of twelve stories from Arthur Conan Doyle.
Time: 8 hours and 8 seconds; approximately a drive to Billings, Montana