Big Kids

Surviving the Family Road Trip

Laura's picture

Does your family argue over who gets to pick the music on long car trips?  Do you need a cure for the “Are we there yet?” blues?  Pack a good supply of family-friendly audiobooks for your next road trip. Audiobooks are entertaining as well as educational. Children will be exposed to a wide variety of literature and improve their listening skills.  And, you can add to the experience by trying some of the following fun activities.

  • In-Car Casting Calls: Try making up new voices for your favorite character.  Act out a few scenes.
  • Geography: If the book's setting is real, discuss how far away the location is, how you could travel to get there, what the weather would be like, etc.  If the location is imaginary, have fun making up these details.
  • Listen for Clues: Periodically stop the audiobook and have everyone guess what's going to happen next.  
  • Create the Sequel: When the book is finished, have everyone make up a different ending.  Or, imagine what would happen in a sequel.  
  • Interview the Author: What would you ask the author about the book?  What questions are left unanswered?

Listening to audiobooks and playing these games will make the car trip seem shorter and offer a terrific way to involve the whole family in a lively discussion.

Here are some favorite audiobooks for family listening.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
read by the author
(3 hours 16 minutes)

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
performed by a full cast
(4 hours 57 minutes)

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
read by Lynn Redgrave
(13 hours 31 minutes)

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath
read by the author
(4 hours 30 minutes)

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
read by Jim Dale
(approx. 9 hours)

Great Books for Newly Independent Readers

Dana's picture

Scholastic has a new early chapter book series called Branches. These books are great for newly independent readers with high-interest content and illustrations on every page. Some books are formatted as early chapter books while some have more of a graphic-novel feel. There are thought bubbles, graphic panels, and funny pictures to keep your young reader engaged. The levels vary but are generally intended for readers in kindergarten through third grade.  I love to recommend these to parents who are looking for a a begining chapter book for a child just ready to take a step away from early readers. To find specific levels and a list of all the series you can visit the Scholastic website at or click on the links below to reserve a copy today!  


Spirit Animals!

Sue's picture

Do you like the 39 Clues books? If so, you might want to try a new series called Spirit Animals. Just like the 39 Clues, each book will have a different author and you can join in the adventure online.  

In Spirit Animals: Book 1 Wild Born, four young heroes discover the special connection they each have with a wild animal and set out on a dangerous quest to save the world of Erdas.  

Want to know more about it? Watch this video of Brandon Mull, the author of Book 1, or visit the Scholastic website and create your hero and summon a spirit animal of your own!


It's a Fact: Spring is Nesting Time

Laura's picture

bird's nest

Spring is in the air and birds are building nests all over town.  Learn all about the wide variety of nests you can find in Jennifer Ward's book, Mama Built a Little Nest. Identify which bird built the nest using the National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America. And birds aren't the only animals that build nests. Check out A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston to explore the incredible world of nests. 



A Snicker of Magic

When Felicity and her family move back to her mother's hometown of Midnight Gulch, Felicity hopes her luck will change. Having spent her entire life wandering from town-to-town with her mother and sister, Felicity wants nothing more than to settle down and stay in one place. In Midnight Gulch, Felicity finally makes a friend and meets family she never knew before, and while she begins to build roots for herself she also learns of a curse that has driven all of the magic away from the town. Felicity believes there is still a snicker of magic left in Midnight Gulch and she and her new best friend Jonah set out to break the curse, believing that when they do, Felicity and her family might just stay.  


Renee's picture

Ever wonder what the smelliest fruit on the planet might be? Do you know what country serves fried grasshoppers as a common snack? Did you know that the eye muscle is the strongest muscle in the body? You can find even more curiosities in books such as That's Awesome! The World's Most Amazing Facts & Records.  Inquisitive minds (or reluctant readers) can satisfy their curious cravings for the strange, mysterious, outrageous, weird, freaky or just plain gross with some of these book suggestion from the Youth Department at UAPL

Send a Postcard to Mars!

Tracie's picture

NASA has a rover, called Curiosity, on Mars and you can send a postcard!  Follow this link and pick one of 9 different postcard images then add a message and send. The postcard will be sent to the Curiosity Rover, Gale Crater on Mars! is full of interesting facts, videos, activities and photos about the Mars Exploration Program. Curiosity, the rover, is part of this program which is trying to determine if the planet Mars was ever able to support any life. What do you think?

Still curious? Check out these titles or come on in. We’d love to help you find books and resources to feed your curiosity!

Boy,Were We Wrong About the Solar System

Cars on Mars

Out of This World: poems and facts about space

The Planet Hunter


Juvenile Fiction Selection: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Sophie Brown and her family have just inherited a farm from her great-uncle Jim.  Her father has recently lost his job, her mother is a busy full-time writer, and they have all just moved from the city and have no experience with farming.  Sophie finds a funny little chicken while exploring the farm and begins correspondence with a woman named Agnes of the Redwood Farm Supply company.  Soon Sophie is learning all she can about chickens through trips to the local library and through Agnes's letters.  Something is really different about great-uncle Jim's chickens though and more keep showing up on the farm every day, as well as the mysterious Ms. Griegson who keeps trying to steal them.  It's up to Sophie to keep her new chickens safe and to convince her parents that she is up to the task of being a chicken farmer.  Written entirely in letters to her recently deceased great-uncle Jim and beloved Abuelita, as well as to Agnes of Redwood Farm Supply this is an odd and adorable story about starting over in a new place, making friends, and supernatural chickens!  To accompany this great story are adorable illustrations of all the silly chickens.  (Grades 4-6 School Library Journal)

Picture Perfect Science

Laura's picture

With the implementation of the new Common Core standards, educators and parents are realizing the importance of integrating literature and science.  Picture books are a wonderfully interactive way to introduce young children to the many diverse fields of scientific inquiry.

In Counting on Frank by Rod Clement, a boy and his dog ask questions about the ordinary things all around us.  Lisa Wheeler’s book, The Pet Project: cute and cuddly vicious verses, illustrates the value of the scientific method as a problem-solver. 

Picture books investigate specific scientific principles too.  Ever wonder why some things float and some things sink?  Archie the goat and his friend Skinny the hen use Archimedes’ principle to find out what floats in a moat

Visit either of these websites for more picture perfect stories.


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