No more school for the rest of the year.

That's where we are, and most likely, you are too. And while we're getting into a good rhythm of working, there is a weariness that comes with the monotony of life in front of a screen.

Do you feel that too?

My entire life revolves around a computer screen. If I want to talk to family or friends, we Zoom. If I read a book (since my library is closed), it's on my Kindle or through a website like openlibrary.org. And now that my grocery store only allows a certain number of people in the store at one time, I'm even grocery shopping online. I've found that the result of all this screen time is that I feel overly tired, a little on edge, and unproductive, no matter how much a I accomplish in a day.

My kiddos are also feeling this.

As teachers continue to work to provide virtual, meaningful education, the one tool they have at their disposal is the computer. And while there are hundreds if not thousands of amazing online educational products and lessons being shared across the country, all that time in front of a screen...I just worry about it.

In our continuing effort to mitigate the stress and strain of this situation on our family, we've tried to find screen-free ways to detox - to zone out and relax. My kids (ages 11 and 13) actually suggested listening to a good audiobook. This pastime, long favored in our household for road trips or summer afternoons when it's too hot to go outside, is a great way to get away from screens, be entertained, and even do while accomplishing a chore or coloring some pictures.

I asked my kids to compile their Top 10 list of audiobooks for quarantine, and they did not disappoint. I think there is something here for everyone. They chose the titles not only based on the their enjoyment of the story itself, but also based on the kind of narrator reading the story. Additionally, my kids also happened to choose books in a series, so that you can plow through the whole thing while social distancing. You're welcome.

Oh, and by the way. We are not spenders over here. These books can be downloaded from your local library or another free online source (hmmm...I'm thinking that might be my next post).

Anyway, without further ado....

TOP 10 AUDIOBOOKS TO LIST TO RIGHT NOW

1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: I feel like these books top every list of books for middle-grade kids, so it's fitting it would hold the #1 slot here. But what makes these books exceptional to listen to is that the narrator is soooooo good. He has a British accent, of course.

2. The Track Series by Jason Reynolds: This is a set of four books that follow a group of kids on an elite middle school track team. The narration of this series is fun and accessible. The characters diverse and authentic. Coach is one of our favorite characters of all time.

3. The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riorden: We listened to this ENTIRE series three summers ago when we were relegated to our basement while we had our kitchen done. A new twist on ancient Greek and Roman mythology, these books are filled with mystery and adventure. They're fast-paced and sometimes a little racy but always entertaining.

4. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall: This is also a set of four books following four sisters, and it's easy for anyone to find a favorite...sister, that is. Each book focuses on a different sister during a different season of life. It reminds me of a modern-day Little Women. These books revolve around the everyday twists and turns of family relationships. I've found the stories to be both uplifting and realistic.

5. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood: Part adventure mystery, part Victorian comedy, this book follows the story of a nanny and her unusual charges, revealing hidden secrets every step of the way. Vivid characters, witty dialogue, and hilarious predicaments pepper this set of books. My kids loved all the interwoven connections between characters (which are not fully revealed until the end) as well as the funny, yet practical, attitude of Miss Penelope Lumley - the intrepid governess.

6. Any book by Richard Peck:

Once of my personal favorite authors, Richard Peck often tells down-homey stories full of local color and tall tales. His characters feel familiar and engaging, their dialogue peppered with fun phrases or brilliant imagery. Four of his books that are our particular favorites include: A Long Way to Chicago, The Teacher's Funeral, A Year Down Yonder, and Fair Weather.

7. The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques: An ambitious set of tales staring plucky animals and vicious villains, Redwall has become a modern classic. Full of swash-buckling adventure, intrigue, and fighting this book is one of high-interest for latent readers. In addition to a great story line, my kids really like the narrator, who happens to have an amazing Irish brogue and does a great job of creating distinctive voices for each of the many characters.

8. The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke:

Imagine having the power to read book characters into life or transport yourself from the real world into a story! This set of three books introduces you to Mo and Meggie who do just that. In addition to sparking the imagination, I love the relationship between a daughter and her father - a wholesome relationship built on genuine love. If that weren't enough, actress Lynn Redgrave voices the narrative. The experience is magical.

9. The Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle:

If you saw the movie A Wrinkle in Time (and even if you didn't), this quartet of books is a must-listen. Each book is a sci-fi extravaganza, a distinct story (they don't really overlap), though they do share some of the same characters and themes. My daughter really liked exploring the other titles after watching the movie and talked a lot about how different the books and their characters are from the movie (A great life lesson, right? The book is ALWAYS better).

10. The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer:

If you're not familiar with Artemis, he's a little Mission Impossible a little Dirty Harry rolled into a teenager. Packed with lots of tech, international travel, and underhanded tricks, these books are for the kid who roots for the villain - or at least likes to be a little naughty sometimes. Both my kids like this series, although I will say that it should probably be listened to by a more mature audience.

What other titles would you add to this list? I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment at our Facebook page or send an email to leslie@storytrekker.com. If you're looking for resources for English Language Arts (ELA) for middle grade kiddos, you can also head over to our Teachers Pay Teachers store.


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