Summer Sun & the Reading is Easy

Summer is around the corner: respite from the structures of a school day, days spent by a water source, sandals, sundresses, picnics, BBQs and the sun lingering well into the night. Then there is entertaining the kids as the days wear on … and the ultimate summer tradition—vacation!! Below is one way I believe you can put larger gaps of time between repetitions of that time honored question, “How much longer till we get there?”

Whether you travel alone or with family, by car or plane, to family or destination, you are likely to pack a book or two. The following are books that are wonderful reads, but are also wonderful to have read to you. The last paragraph will give sources to acquire audio reads; but for now let me give some specific suggestions.

Families with Children 12 & under

In these days when it is so easy for each person to put in the ear buds and engage in what they please, these audio options will allow for the family to have a shared experience where the book becomes a part of family conversation.

Here are some family friendly stories that will entertain all, even the child in you.

  • Hank the Cowdog, a series by John R. Erickson. There is an entire series that doesn’t have to be read to be enjoyed. I was introduced to this series by a dad who had listened to many of them over their summer treks and loved them!!
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series, by C. S. Lewis as produced by Focus on the Family. This particular production is more than a reading, it has the sound effects of an old time radio show: footsteps, doors shutting, etc. I suggest you start with The Magician’s Nephew. The first in the series, but the last one written, it is often over looked yet a rich and engaging story. This series does best in sequence.
  • Gregor the Overlander series, by Suzanne Collins. Before the Hunger Games made her writing a household staple, she wrote many other books. This series has eleven-year-old Gregor pushed into becoming an unexpected hero as he answers the questions of his heart. The story lines allow for good discussion about morals and ethics of loyalty, friendship and leadership. Your tweens are likely to enjoy this too.

Families with Tweens and Teens

  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It is more than the must-see movie of the spring. The written story is told from the point of view of Katniss, the main character. Collins does a great job of exploring the inner conflict constantly harassing Katniss, making her sympathetic and giving a greater depth to the story as a whole. The pacing of story never lacks a hook or action, keeping the reader fully engaged. Don’t make the mistake of finishing the first book (Hunger Games) without having the second (Catching Fire) in the wings.
  • The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien. Peter Jackson’s version of this classic brought to film is to be released in the next year. So why not be ahead of the curve and read it now!
  • Here are a few more series that have been well received by their targeted audience while being found entertaining the adult in the room or car.

The Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket
The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
Eragon, by Christopher Paolini
Maximum Ride, by James Patterson
Alex Rider, by Anthony Horowitz
Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark, by Ridley Pearson
Christy Miller, series by Robin Jones Gunn
The Prisoner of Cell 25, by Michael Vey (The first book is out with the second to be released in August. This is expected to the next big hit, similar in success to Hunger Games or Twilight.)

Couples

  • The Last Jihad series by Joel C. Rosenberg starts with The Last Jihad, then moves into The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, The Copper Scroll and Dead Heat. This series is a great mix of a strong story line, action and political intrigue, set to the backdrop of Biblical prophecy. The stories are current to our world around us allowing for discussion beyond the initial reading.
  • Catching Fireflies, by Charles Martin. Martin writes with male protagonists and in a voice that engages both male and female readers, but this book is exceptional in that it touches both genders in significant ways.
  • Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, known for writing Seabiscuit (a great read). In this story of Louis Zamperini, we meet a man who is “a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.” Long awaited and well received, Hillenbrand’s narration covers Louis’ amazing life full of experiences that would fill four lifetimes.

Chick Friendly Lighter Reads

  • The Sister Chicks series, by Robin Jones Gunn. Each book, full of fun adventures in friendship as the “sister chicks” travel abroad, stands alone and is written to appeal to women 35 and older. Her Glenbrooke series and other fiction works will appeal to the 20’s and up.
  • Anything by Mary Higgins Clark, although her first works have a greater element of suspense and intrigue. Her characters are relatable, the stories have good twists and they are easy to read over a couple of days.
  • Anything by Nicholas Sparks. I really liked his latest, The Best of Me, and Dear John is soooo much better as a book (and I suspect The Lucky One will be too). Just think “love stories,” and you won’t be disappointed.
  • Delirious Summer, by Ray Blackston. I “read” this on audio and loved it! The story was engaging set in Greenville and the South Carolina coast, with great characters and many “LOL” moments. Flabbergasted is a good one to follow up with, should this catch you.

So, tell me … what did I miss? What book or author do you suggest?

Leads to other books…

About.com has a list of Top Books to Read at the Beach, listed by genre should you desire a greater breadth of options.

Below is information on audio books…

Audio books are available through several sources. CD’s can be purchased anywhere from Wal-Mart to Barnes & Noble to Half Price Books. Many libraries have books on CD and will acquire works they don’t have through inter-library loan. There are ways to borrow audio books from a library online, but I have not done that and cannot say how friendly it is. iTunes offers many books on audio, though I hear they are pricey.

The source I use is Audible.com. You will need to set up an account online. I used to download the books to my iTunes account and then transfer them over to my phone, but this takes a lot of space on a computer … then I discovered the Audible app (angels singing). I still make my purchases through their website using my computer, but I do not download them. When I open my app, all the books I have purchased are there. I simply download (wi-fi is needed and it goes quick) the one(s) I am going to listen to soon and delete them from my iPhone when I am finished. The download is deleted, not access to the book, so you can listen again. This allows the most efficient use of space.

I hope you find this useful, and that you have a summer full of fun and rewarding reading!

*Originally published on Destiny in Bloom*

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