• Lara Neri

top 10 audible listens for a family road trip

In our family, we listen to audiobooks constantly - in the car, playing legos, cooking, cleaning, getting ready to go to sleep. We have listened to hundreds of stories, and I am particular - I cannot listen to a reader with a squeaky voice or someone who reads through his nose; the reader can make or break an audiobook, with the power to ruin the story for you, even if the story itself is great.

I drove 13 hours yesterday, from Dallas to Knoxville, Tennessee, and then 8 more today, up to Baltimore. We have a lot more driving to do on this road trip, and the best way to bring order to our chaos in the car is a captivating audiobook. In case any of you are also doing road trips, or just in need of a good listen, here are our top ten, as discussed and decided by me and my kids.

* All of these are free of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (if by rock and roll we mean bad language).

I tried to rate them in three categories:

Good: pretty poor to mediocre writing quality, but captivating and entertaining; sometimes including topics worth thoughtful discussion, with the impression that the author has given at least some thought to ethics

Better: decent to good writing quality,

captivating and entertaining, including topics worth thoughtful discussion, with some thought given to ethics and possibly even virtue

Best: quite good writing quality, including topics worth thoughtful discussion, presenting situations that allow the reader to vicariously experience the moral dilemmas of the characters, employ good judgment, and grow in virtue

#10. The Candy Shop War, by Brandon Mull - Good

Four kids get caught up in an underground war between magicians who make magic candy.

Possible discussion points: magic, disobedience

13 year old says: "exciting, thrilling, mysterious"

8 year old says: "legit."

6 year old says: “I love it.”

11 year old says: “I like that they get to eat a lot of candy.”

Mom says: “Not great, but not horrible. It keeps your attention. If you don’t like vague magicians/magic, avoid this one.”

#9. Encyclopedia Brown books, by Donald J. Sobol - Good

Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown is a 10 year old with a photographic memory who cleverly solves mysteries in his small town. At the conclusion of each mystery, the listener gets a chance to try to figure out how he solved the mystery before revealing his solution.

Possible discussion points: bullying, being observant, consequences

8 year old says: "I LOVE it soooo much!!! It gives you the chance to actually start being a detective"

6 year old says: "I love that you get to figure out the clues."

11 year old says: " I like that it is a 10 year old kid and not just the police who is figuring everything out."

13 year old says: "ditto"