The end of school and beginning of summer is upon us. For some, this time may include road trips and extra time spent in the car. What better way to utilize these otherwise boring times than to jump into other universes, times and places with an audiobook?

Audiobooks are great for all ages. One of my first experiences with them came in a cross-country trip with my husband and three young children. As we were camping our way across the United States, the time in the car could have become a challenge with the kids and their typical “He’s touching me!” type interactions.

That trip, I tried my first audiobook. Our vehicle didn’t have a cassette deck (yes, it was that long ago), so we made do with the kids’ plastic toy cassette player. We’d play a section of the book after lunch each day and before settling down for the evening to sleep.

It worked like magic. We’d stop the story at an exciting place, and the kids couldn’t wait to pick up the tale the next day. I figured out audiobooks are brilliant!

So, today, I’m going to highlight some of my favorite audio series for different ages that would be great for a road trip, or just to enjoy at home.

For youngsters, I love C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Even pre-school children love these tales of princes, princesses, talking animals and evil queens. Younger children enjoy the stories on a basic level, yet older children begin to pick up on the theme of good versus evil and the eternal love of the Creator.

Joplin Public Library has all of the Chronicles in audiobook as well as print. Only the first title, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is available in downloadable audio through MoLib2Go, however.

Another good children’s series which I won’t elaborate on here is Lloyd Alexander’s classic Chronicles of Prydain series. It, too, is full of adventure and the saga of good and evil.

For teens, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. Our former Teen Services librarian, Cari Rerat, introduced me to this series.

Elisa is the chosen one. The younger of two princesses, she is very average and unremarkable, and filled with self-doubt, though she bears a Godstone, a holy gem imbedded in her stomach and marking her for great service.

On her sixteenth birthday, she marries a handsome and worldly king who wants to keep their marriage a secret. Her life becomes filled intrigue and mystery as she is kidnapped and becomes the key to political alliances and, essentially, world peace.

The trilogy is not only adventure and escapades in a strange and primitive world, but a coming-of-age story in which Elisa matures into a strong and capable woman.

I hesitate to begin on my adult list of favorites. It will be hard to stop.

Jodi Picoult is a master story-teller. Although I’ve not listened to everything we have available in audio by her, I’ve enjoyed all I’ve read or listened to. I tend to learn from them as well.
House Rules deals with murder where a boy with Asperger’s becomes the main suspect. Leaving Time is a suspenseful story interwoven with different times and viewpoints that deals with elephant conservancy. I kept thinking back to the information in it when I visited an elephant camp in Thailand this spring.

Another of my favorite authors is Francine Rivers, an inspirational author. She has a fascinating book, The Last Sin Eater, that highlights an Appalachian tradition of which I was completely unaware before reading the book – that of a person being chosen by a community to “eat” its sins, becoming an outcast in doing so.

She also writes historical, Biblical and contemporary fiction as well. She’s a multifaceted author, and I enjoyed getting to meet her at the American Library Association convention last summer.

If you have any road trips this summer, consider using audiobooks to help pass the time. Joplin Public Library has many selections in CD or MP3 disk format, as well as a good selection of digital downloadable titles through MoLib2Go.org.

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