Selecting Audio Books for Holiday Travels

Artemis Fowl in PlayawayThe winter holidays are here and bring plenty of travel opportunities with them. But how to while away the countless hours it takes to get to the destination? Nerves become frazzled, arguments ensue and then you're stuck with a crying tantrum in a seat belt. Audiobooks are a great solution to the back seat rabble. They can be used to entertain all of the occupants of the car using audiobook CDs or just one occupant using a Playaway, a MP3 audiobook. Playaways can be used with headphones and fit neatly into luggage pockets.There is even the option to download audiobooks to your iPhone or computer with Downloadable Media. With the variety of options available, it's easy to get an audiobook before a long trip.

Choosing a good audiobook, though, is another battle. How is the book different from the audiobook? There are a few things that help when selecting an audiobook. For example, what kind of mood would be best for the trip? If looking for a mellow, more lulling mood to calm rising arguments, perhaps it's better to stick with authors who have a lyrical quality to their books, such as Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons or The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan. Or if your passengers are bored easily, go for a heart-pumping adventure such as Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl or Gilda Joyce, the Dead Drop by Jennifer Allison.

While audiobooks can be a great opportunity to sink into a good classic book that listeners wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to experience, it pays to be mindful to the length.  Not every listener is ready for The Hobbit. The Rabbit Ears Series provides a great opportunity to experience smaller chunks of cultural classics with a collection of folktales. Another great pick is a collection of short stories such as David Lubar’s hilarious tales, The Curse of the Campfire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales.  “Kits” or audio CDs that have accompanying books can also be a great way for kids to have a visual experience while also hearing the words to a story.

Voice is another consideration when choosing audiobooks. Anyone from actors to authors can bring the words alive from the page.  Author-read audiobooks are a real treat. From the dynamic Neil Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book to the late Madelene L’engle reading A Wrinkle in Time, authors bring a special magic to audiobooks. Sometimes an author reading can even imbue a different meaning to the book with the emphasis she places on certain words or the pace at which he reads.

The array of books available on disc or Playaway is wide enough to suit even the pickiest of readers. Whichever audiobook you choose, listening to books can be a great way to start off a vacation. The holiday season can be a time packed with fevered marathons to gather gifts and prepare decorations, so it pays to take time out for an audiobook. You won’t regret it.

                                                                                                    --Jess Stork