Are we there yet?

You hate asking it as much as your parents hate hearing it. But if your family vacation means driving this summer and you don't have one of those DVD players in your minivan, we have a solution for you.


Don't say that reading in the car makes you queasy. Instead of reading a book, why not listen to a book?

Audiobooks are recordings of books on cassette or CD. You can buy audiobooks at bookstores, but the best choice of titles might be at your local public library. For example, Montgomery County libraries have more than 400 titles of kids books on tape or CD.

Of course, you can slap on the headphones and listen to "Harry Potter" while your little brother listens to "Midnight on the Moon" by Mary Pope Osborne. (Since you can get the books for free, Mom or Dad might be willing to buy a portable player for the trip if you don't have one already.) But since it is a family vacation, why not try listening to a book together?

Tracy Grant runs down some KidsPost favorites. They are all great stories, and sometimes the person reading them makes them even better. (Jim Dale's renditions of the Harry Potter books will make them seem brand-new even if you've read them 10 times.)

Before you know it, you'll be saying: "We're here already?"

Going to Ocean City

* Book: "Misty of Chincoteague" by Marguerite Henry.

What it's about: A brother and sister want to buy a pony of their own at the Chincoteague pony auction. But not any pony will do. They want "the phantom," the pony no one has been able to capture.

How long: It's 3 hours 15 minutes, perfect for getting to Ocean City, if the traffic isn't too bad. From Ocean City, you can visit Assateague Island and see the ponies walking on the beach.

For Animal Lovers

* Book: "Shiloh" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

What it's about: Marty is a boy who loves all kinds of animals. But when he finds a beagle, he has to keep it a secret from his family and the dog's real owner, who is mean. We mean real MEAN.

How long: About 11/2 hours.

* Book: "Henry Huggins" and "Ribsy" by Beverly Cleary.

What they're about: These two books are also about a boy who adopts a dog, but there's no real danger here, just laughs -- such as when Henry (the boy) tries to take Ribsy (the dog) on a bus. "Henry Huggins" tells the story of how the Huggins family adopts a pet. "Ribsy" is a hilarious sequel about what happens when Ribsy gets lost.

How long: "Henry Huggins" is 3 hours. "Ribsy" is 3 hours 15 minutes.

* Book: "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo.

What it's about: This is the story about a girl and her dog, but it's really about the freinds that 10-year-old India Opal Buloni (pronounced baloney) makes once she meets a mangy mutt in a grocery story. This is read by Cherry Jones, whose sweet southern accent makes it seem like you're listening to music. (A movie has been made of this book and it's due out next month.)

How long: 3 hours

Just for Laughs

* Book: "Anastasia Krupnik" by Lois Lowry.

What it's about: As Anastasia Krupnik turns 10, she's got a lot to deal with: her first crush, a baby brother on the way, and, oh, that name of hers. What were her parents thinking?

How long: 21/2 hours.

* Book: "Double Fudge" by Judy Blume.

What it's about: Here's another book about a kid, a funny name and what happens when long-lost relatives come to visit. Double fun.

How long: 11/2 hours.

* Book: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl.

What it's about: Winning tickets, lollipop fairylands, obnoxious children, obnoxious parents. This has something for everyone. Eric Idle's narration (especially the voices he does for Charlie's grandparents) is amazing.

How long: 31/2 hours.

If You Always Meant to Read the Newbery Books

* Book: "Crispin" by Avi.

What it's about: An orphan boy in 14th century England meets a juggler with a dangerous secret. This exciting story won the 2003 Newbery Medal for the best children's book of the year.

How long: 6 hours 15 minutes.

* Book: "Holes" by Louis Sachar.

What it's about: Stanley Yelnats gets sent to a summer camp that you REALLY don't want to go to. It won the prize in 1999.

How long: 41/2 hours.

* Book: "Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo.

What it's about: It's nothing like "Because of Winn-Dixie." This story of a brave mouse, soup, a spool of thread and true love won this year's Newbery prize.

How long: 31/2 hours.

If You Love Books in a Series

* Book: "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis.

What it's about: Four children (two brothers and two sisters) discover that the wardrobe filled with fur coats in their uncle's house is really a portal into a magical world called Narnia, where they will battle evil and each other. It's exciting, funny and sad.

How long: 4 hours. (Other books in the Chronicles of Narnia series include "The Magician's Nephew." If you listen to "Lion" first, whoever figures out the connection between the two books first should get an ice cream cone.)

* Book: "The Bad Beginning" by Lemony Snicket.

What it's about: Oh it's all too wretched to go into. Don't listen. You really don't want to.

How long: 3 hours 17 miserable minutes. And there are nine more books to endure.

* Book: "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien.

What it's about: Meet Bilbo and go with this nice, respectable hobbit on a journey that set in motion everything that would come in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

How long: 11 hours 15 minutes.

If You're Driving

Cross Country

* Book: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling.

What it's about: Harry, Hogwarts, Sirius, You Know Who.

How long: 27 hours, about how long it will take you to drive to the Grand Canyon. (Although we have to ask why you're doing that!)

-- Tracy Grant

Recorded versions

of books include favorites

old and new, and are

available at book

stores and libraries.