Jun 2, 2014

Summer Travel: Road Trip Listening

Summer is my most favorite season and in no small part because of the wonderful travel opportunities that the season presents. What better time to hop in the car, pile your bags and maybe the kids in, and hit the open road? You road trip may be a short day trip, or perhaps you are driving cross-country, you might even be lucky enough to have an RV which means you can drive indefinitely! Driving for long hours isn't your cup of tea? Well, this is also a great season to catch a flight to an exciting destination or even jump aboard a ship. This month is full of travel for me as I'll be spending time hiking in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee this week, then baking in the desert heat of Las Vegas later this month! Reading and listening materials are always a necessity and I'm sure to put these items on my packing checklist when I travel. Last year I recommended some wonderful audiobook choices for you to take on your adventures. This year I'd like to expand my recommendations list to include great music and book choices for the family. Read on to see my favorites!

Audiobooks/ Playways:
MATILDA; by Roald Dahl; Narrated by Kate Winslet; Penguin Audio. 5 hrs. (2014 Audie Award Finalist). Ages 8-12. 
Image from
A longtime favorite of mine and many other children who were charmed by Matilda's story at a young age, this wonderful audiobook is brought to life thanks to the voice acting talents of the lovely Kate Winslet. Fans of the book will adore the lively recording, and newcomers to the story will be swept away with this charming tale.

In addition to Matilda, there are many other awesome Roald Dahl stories narrated by some of my favorite actors and actresses that are available for check out at the library, such as The Fantastic Mr. Fox. You can see the famous faces who narrate the audiobooks and listen to excerpts at!

NELSON MANDELA'S FAVORITE AFRICAN FOLKTALES; by Nelson Mandela (editor). Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Matt Damon and Alan Rickman and others. Hatchette Audio. 3 hrs and 45 mins. Ages 8-12. (2010 Audie Audiobook of the Year Award Winner).
Image from
In an effort to raise money for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Artists for New South Africa, 23 narrators, most of which are famous actors and actresses ranging from Samuel L. Jackson to Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) himself, recorded African Folktales chosen by Mandela for this special recording. The narrators all do an amazing job performing their respective stories and parents and older children may have fun trying to guess who the narrator is. You will get to enjoy traditional African music along with these folktales as an added bonus. A great choice for adults and children alike, though 8-12 may appreciate the traditional folktales more than younger listeners. You can listen to audio excerpts from various stories, read performer bios and even download free

ELEANOR & PARK; by Rainbow Rowell; Narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra; Listening Library. 9 hrs. Ages 13 and up.
Teens, tweens and parents alike will be able to enjoy this audiobook telling the smart, romantic and sometimes heart-wrenching story of high school students Eleanor and Park. The tale is told conversely through each character's perspective and listeners will experience each of their unique narratives distinctly through the great performances from the voice actors.

Print Books:

CAN I PLAY TOO? : AN ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE BOOK; by Mo Willems. Hyperion Books for Children, 2010. Ages 5 and up.

School-age children of all ages (and their parents) will likely find something to giggle over in this delightful addition to Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books. When a small snake wriggles over to play with Elephant and Piggie, they must figure out how to incorporate their armless friend into their game of catch. A great read when grumpy and tired kids might need a little humor to break up a long day.

MOUSE’S FIRST SUMMER; By Lauren Thompson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004. Ages 3 and up.

In this adorable and simple picture book, Mouse and his friend Minka enjoy all of the fun that summer has to offer such as munching on watermelon at a picnic and watching fireworks at the park. Young children will enjoy answering the questions posed in this story, like the sentence “What’s this for?” floating around the tail of a kite flying high.

EXTRAORDINARY WARREN: A SUPER CHICKEN; by Sarah Dillard. Aladdin, 2014. Ages 7-12.

This graphic novel is a great choice for middle grade readers who are looking for a silly, not-too-serious tale to entertain themselves this summer. You will read the story of a young chicken named Warren and a hungry, devious rat named Millard looking for a chicken dinner. There are plenty of laughs along the way as Millard tries to trick the chicks into coming to his “special” barbeque.   The illustrations are brightly colored and the book’s structure falls somewhere between picture book and graphic novel with sparse panels and large full-page illustrations amongst the text. A particularly helpful quality if your young reader is new to the world of graphic novels.

Film poster image from
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS; by John Greene. Ages 13 and older.

A love story between two teenagers struggling to cope with their terminal conditions, this book will make you weep, smile and everything in between. This summer’s film adaptation of this amazing young adult novel is sure to spark interest in the book with teens as well as adults. One of my most favorite novels read in recent memory and a guaranteed page-turner.


KOO KOO KANGA ROO: RAD-TROSPECTIVE; by Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Uniroo Records. 2014.

Image from
If you are afraid of falling asleep on your family road trip, just pop this CD into your player and you will be wide awake! These high energy pop tunes are perfect for little ones who want to be active during their music listening, or for older kids who enjoy fast paced silly tunes. With family friendly that invite movement, try "Shake Yo' Foot" or "Wiggle It" (both of which are preschool storytime favorites!). Other great tracks include the adorable "Cat Party" and the hip-hop influenced "Baby Crocodile Uhh". This CD is guaranteed to be a new favorite. 

TUMBLEBEE; by Laura Veirs. Raven Marching Band Records. 2012.

Prefer something a bit more quiet and a little less high energy? I highly recommend listening to Veirs' album Tumblebee. Beautiful folk songs for children comprise this album by established adult musician Veirs who has shared the stage with the likes of Neko Case and The Decemberists. Filled with banjo, fiddle and Veir's rich voice this is sure to please Americana and folk music fans as well as youngsters that enjoy softer tunes.

I hope that you have some ideas for new listening and reading materials to take with you on your road trip! What is your favorite travel book or music CD? Don't forget, you can count audiobooks towards your summer reading hours!