Road Trip Rescue

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I must have dozed off or experienced a rare moment of solitude when our big family road trip was planned. Suddenly Julia, Henry, and Dave were standing over a map of the country, excitedly plotting an extensive East Coast driving trip from our hometown just outside of Boston to New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

By the time I clued in to what was going on, the trip was clearly too far along for me to put on the brakes.

Although I have mostly fond memories of family road trips when I was a kid, I also remember the arguments with my brother that grew out of our boredom and continued until my mom reached back to grab any body part she could reach.

But I set my mind at ease thinking about the kids' handheld video games and DVD player. We've come a long way from listening to the Beach Boys on an 8-track cassette, I rationalized. With today's technology, we had it made!

"Mommy, you know I can't watch movies or play video games in the car the whole time — or I'll get carsick." Julia reminded me a few weeks before we departed on the family road trip. I glared at Dave as he quickly exited the room.

Terrified at the prospect of the eight-hour drive from Washington, D.C. back home, I went to the library and borrowed the audio version of the first Harry Potter book, HARRY POTTER AND THE SCORCERER'S STONE — all eight hours and seventeen minutes of it.

We started the story on the way to D.C., and from the second it began, every one of us (well, except baby Miles) was mesmerized. It was so engrossing that we hardly wanted to get out of the car when we reached our destination — and we even looked forward to getting back into the car just so we could listen to it.

The audiobook held our childrens' attention for hours-longer than any movie or hand held video game — and Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed it as well. The final leg of our trip — the grueling drive from Washington, D.C. to our home — went as quickly as possible thanks to good old Harry.

Through the recommendations of other road warrior families, we've discovered more audiobooks. We borrow them from a friend or the library, download them the web site www.audible.com, or buy them used off the internet. The audiobook narrators — actors, professional readers, and the authors themselves — make the stories come alive. If you have a trip coming up, here are a few audiobooks that you might want to check out as well:

4 and up

WINNIE THE POOH
by A. A. Milne (read by Peter Dennis)

RAMONA QUIMBY, AGE 8
by Beverly Cleary (read by Stockard Channing)

CHARLOTTE'S WEB
by E.B. White

6 and up

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE
by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read by Cherry Jones)

THE VELVETEEN RABBIT
by Margery Williams (read by Meryl Streep)

THREE TALES OF MY FATHER'S DRAGON
by Ruth Stiles Gannett read (by Robert Serva)

8 and up

HARRY POTTER AND THE SCORCERER'S STONE
by J.K. Rowling (read by Jim Dale)

GONE-AWAY LAKE
by Elizabeth Enright read (by Colleen Delany)

ALL-OF-KIND FAMILY
by Sydney Taylor read (by Suzanne Toren)

10 and up

MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE
by Marguerite Henry (read by Daisy Egan)

A WRINKLE IN TIME
by Madeleine L'Engle (read by Madeleine L'Engle)

WALK TWO MOONS
by Sharon Creech (read by Davis Hope)

What's your road trip trick? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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