Road trip with two 13 year old girls – need audio book recommendations.
May 28, 2010 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Please share your suggestions for short and fun middle-school audio books.

Today is the last day of school and next week I’ll be taking my daughter and her friend on a relatively short road trip – the round trip drive time will be <8 hours. They agreed to my suggestion that we listen to an audio book instead of music, but they set a few parameters: no books about sex (whew!), no vampires, and nothing that will cause them too much stress. They’ve read Diary of a Wimpy Kid – loved it – so something similar in tone and style. I’ve been searching online, but most audio books are longer than 8 hours and have themes related to death, disaster, sex, and most of all, vampires.
posted by kbar1 to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Artemis Fowl audiobooks should fit the bill the first 2 are around 6 hours long
posted by pyro979 at 9:58 AM on May 28, 2010

Try some classics they may not feel like reading: Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, or some Mark Twain for humor. Additionally, you may want to check their school's website for the summer reading list and give them an early audio start!
posted by kidelo at 9:59 AM on May 28, 2010

The Bad Beginning, the first book of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events", does have death as a subtext, but is really pretty funny in a strange way.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:16 AM on May 28, 2010

Look for books by Dick King Smith (Babe, The Three Terrible Trins, Harry's Mad etc) They are probably a little "young" for your kids, but highly amusing and easy to follow along with in the car.

Another author is Lynn Reed Banks, who wrote The Indian in the Cupboard series.
posted by jvilter at 10:25 AM on May 28, 2010

When I drove kids around a lot Hank the Cowdog was a huge favorite. It's might be better for a slightly younger crowd and for boys, but the girls and big kids laughed loudly too (and talked about it at the rest stops.). It's really a series of short stories which make it work great for trips like this.

Phantom Tollbooth would also be very good, I'm not sure how long it is.

And I will also agree that this would be a good time to introduce some 'classics' and, since it's audio, they could be for more advanced readers.
posted by Some1 at 10:43 AM on May 28, 2010

I would suggest anything by Blue Balliett, she has 3 novels all with the same characters middle school students who get involved with some mysteries. My kids and I have listened to The Wright 3, which is about Frank Llyodd Wright and his house in Chicago. The first book in the series is Chasing Vameer and the 3rd is The Calder Game all have some art some history and some mystery. We have read all 3 and we all enjoyed them.
posted by momochan at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2010

Seconding Artemis Fowl, fun books with a great narrator.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:55 AM on May 28, 2010

I might also suggest Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men (review)
posted by mce at 12:39 PM on May 28, 2010

Eva Ibbotson writes beautiful books that I think the girls would love. My favourites are Magic Flutes, Dragonfly Pool, Journey to the River Sea, Company of Swans, Secret Countess (or Countess below stairs, it goes by both titles) and oh! all of them.
posted by jonathanstrange at 1:45 PM on May 28, 2010

mce beat me to it so I'll second The Wee Free Men. Smart and funny and the protagonist is a headstrong 11yo girl. The accents make it an even better audiobook than a read.
posted by rosebengal at 2:31 PM on May 28, 2010

Terry Pratchett's books are great on audiobook.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (read by Stephen Fry!) might be fun if they enjoy weird things.
The Harry Potter audiobooks are good, either the Fry version or the Jim Dale version.
The Lemony Snicket books are fun but dark; if they don't want dark, then this is probably not it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:09 PM on May 28, 2010

Also, you might see what your local library has - we usually have good luck with audiobooks from the library.

(Further note about Pratchett: his most recent young adult book, Nation, is great but has some seriously dark and stressful parts. Probably not the best bet for your parameters.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:11 PM on May 28, 2010

Best answer: We spend a fair amount of time in the car, and have done a number of audiobooks. I tend to avoid more modern books, so if that's really what you're looking for, I won't be able to help much.

But we've found that unabridged recordings of The Swiss Family Robinson, Around the World in 80 Days, The Hobbit, The Twenty-One Balloons, Nancy Drew mysteries, A Wrinkle in Time, and a few others, have all gone over very well. Thirteen-year-olds could handle any of them. We've found that the most consistently good publisher is Recorded Books, and they seem to be fairly well-represented at most public libraries.

Also, for what it's worth, I've found non-classics to deal with mature themes (read: sex) more than I would have expected, and more than I remember from when I was younger. I'm sure MeFites are able to suggest books that don't go into sex, but if you're at the library and just grabbing things off the shelf, keep it in mind.
posted by Alt F4 at 4:24 PM on May 28, 2010

Best answer: BTW, Around the World in 80 Days (which would be my suggestion if I had to pick just one off that list) is ~7 hours long.
posted by Alt F4 at 4:27 PM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: While I'm a big fan of the classics, the girls were horrified by the suggestions for Jane Eyre and Mark Twain: "This is suppose to be summer vacation, not summer school!" Fortunately they didn't recognize the recommendations from Alt F4 as classics and agreed to check out Around the World in 80 Days.
posted by kbar1 at 4:53 PM on May 28, 2010

Great! I hope they like it. The version of Around the World that we listened to (and really liked) was this one, which is actually published by Listening Library. Hopefully I didn't lead you astray with the Recorded Books link in my earlier post. (I haven't heard their version of it.)

One thing to keep in mind is that the reader can make or break the story, just as much as the story can. I'm honestly surprised that there aren't more "listen to a sample chapter" MP3s available online.

For future reference, I should also mention that there are a number of free recordings of public domain works at I haven't found the quality on those the be superb. Terrifically earnest, but not the same quality as a professional publishing house. I digress.

Anyway, I hope you have a fun and safe roadtrip, and that the girls (and you) enjoy the book! When you get back, if you're able to send me a MeFi mail message and let me know how it went over (or post here in the thread), I'd really appreciate it.
posted by Alt F4 at 10:02 AM on May 29, 2010

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