Filed under: Entertaining Kids at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Family Weekend Trips, Grandparent Hints and Tips, Kid-Friendly Trips
Having logged over 23,000 miles this past winter (I know, I should have alerted you so that you could have invested in Exxon stock!), we spent some serious time behind the wheel! Traveling with 11 children (1m. to 20y.o.), for extended amounts of time, can be downright challenging. I would like to think that I have learned a few tricks along our travels that made the trip go more smoothly the farther down the road we got. I thought I would share one of our favorite things to do while we are making a long haul, or traveling through not-so-scenic areas:
Listening to new books on CD!
While this may not sound very groundbreaking, we found that it took some major effort to track down kid-friendly CDs while on the road!
A book on CD (or MP3), can be either a book being read aloud, or (our preference) an ‘audio drama’. While we always enjoy a good book, we find well done dramas, or ‘theatres’ especially entertaining. These are like the old radio shows made with voice casts, realistic sound effects, and mood music. Many audio dramas are between 1 and 3 hours long, making them suitable for shorter excursions, while others, usually based on series books, can be over 20 hours in length.
Since we had a hard time locating kid-friendly audio books, I thought that I would share some sources that we have found:
*Cracker Barrel – OK, maybe I should not say that we have found this, since we learned about it on the last day OTR this spring! CB apparently has a Books-On-Audio policy; buy any book on CD in their store (keep your receipt), then return it to ANY C.B. location, nationwide, and they will refund your money minus $3.49/week (since your purchase). I could have cried when I found that out – you cannot believe how many Cracker Barrels that we passed, all while wishing desperately that we had some new book-on-CDs! Keep in mind that since we didn’t get to actually try this one, I don’t know what kind of titles that they will offer, but it sounds promising!!!
*Local Library – many local libraries offer audio book rentals. Free, generally a 2 week rental, often can special order in a certain title if they don’t have it onhand. This is an excellent place to get non-fiction books pertaining to a historical site that you may be visiting (like Gettysburg) – especially if it is a book that you don’t really want to purchase). Not very helpful if you are OTR (on the road) full-time, but there is an occasional compassionate librarian that will let you rent without residency.
*Movie Rental Stores – our favorite local movie store rents book-on-CDs very inexpensively. While they have a limited selection, it is a plus that I can renew with them over the phone, or just pay to rent it as long as I plan to be gone (as opposed to having to physically take the CDs back to the library for renewal).
*Online rental/download sites – I haven’t dealt with any specific company personally, so will not offer recommendations. There are many companies out there that will rent/ship audio CDs to your door, or let you download to your computer. Google ‘rent (download) audio books’, and you will get many different sites that offer this service.
*Purchase – of course you can purchase audio books just about anywhere, from the fuel station to WalMart, but we have found a couple of companies that we trust to deliver high-quality, kid-appropriate listening that is entertaining for the entire family:
Focus on the Family Radio Theatre – while new audio dramas are not being made currently due to budget cuts, FotF has some fantastic dramas already available. Our favorites from them are: The Chronicles of Narnia (this series runs 22 hours! great for a long trip!), Little Women, and Ben Hur (we find the best prices here).
Our favorite maker of audio dramas is Lamplighter Ministries. A smaller, christian publishing company, they just began their ‘audio drama’ journey, and to date have 7 productions out. They are currently offering a free download of their newest audio theatre (this is a christian production) ~ that gives you a few hours worth of ‘free’ travel entertainment! ;) And if you would like to order some different titles, going through this link gets you 15% off of their regular prices (or you can manually enter in the discount code LAMP29)! Check out their home page for some excerpts of other dramas too,
I love to hide away new CDs, and surprise everyone when the road is seeming extra long and the scenery barren (say, mid-Nevada! – though we did stop alongside the road for lunch there and found the coolest lizards!).
One thing that I love about both of our RVs is that they had/have speakers in the sleeping areas. Knowing that they will get to listen to a book in bed is great incentive for the younger kids to get the bedtime ritual done in record time. The kids quickly settle down, and love to go to sleep listening to a book through the stereo system (and I love that I can feed it back to their bunks, and not to mine!).
Audio books, and audio dramas, can be a great tool for extended drive time or calming the camping-crazies (you know, that extra wild energy that hits kids just as it’s time to put out the campfire and hit the sack!). Keeping a couple on hand for OTR may just help make the trip a little more relaxing.