Filling in the gaps

As someone who works in the Children’s Department, I routinely feel bad for not knowing every book in our collection. We get so many new books each week, and between my obsession with romance and YA, there’s rarely a place for juvenile fiction in my “to be read” pile.

When I feel like I need to fill a gap in my children’s lit knowledge and I don’t have time to read, I turn to audiobooks. They are a great way to consume literature, especially the ones where people look at you and say “I can’t believe you’ve never read… This one book everyone has read!” You can listen to it without disrupting your reading schedule.

The children’s collection has a great selection of audiobooks, from classics like “Anne of Green Gables” all the way up to the newest releases: “Dream On Amber,” “Storm Horse,” and “Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel.” I love listening to children’s audiobooks in particular because they are generally not a 19 hour commitment (I’m looking at you, “American Gods“). Shorter books equal shorter audiobooks. They are perfect for a 15 minute commute and without some of the long, drawn-out, complicated plots and subplots in books for older readers, you can easily leave it and come back to it without forgetting all of the characters’ names and motivations.

I think of all of the books in this blog, I’m the most sad that I missed out on Judy Blume and especially “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” when I was a kid. As with most girls hitting their teens, I could have used some Judy Blume in my life. The audiobook is hilariously narrated by Laura Hamilton who perfectly captures the angsty curiosity of Margaret Simon. Not only has Margaret moved from the big city to the suburbs, she’s stumbled upon a group of friends obsessed with boys, bras, and periods. On top of that she’s on a quest to find her own religion, and she’s got her no-nonsense Jewish grandmother to help her out. With tons of laugh out loud moments, Judy Blume transported me back to my pre-teen years in the best possible way. With a run time of 3 hours, you’ll zip through this classic and want to be best friends with Margaret.

I know, I know. How could I have not read “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler“? I don’t know. I would have loved this as a kid; my obsession with museums could have started at a much younger age. Alas, I found E.L. Koningsburg as an adult, and I love her. When Claudia decides to run away from home, she wants to do it in style. No camping or street corners for her; she’s decided to live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she drags her penny-pinching brother Jamie along with her to fund the whole adventure. This book evoked a nostalgia for days when you could buy breakfast, lunch, dinner and a pass for public transportation for less than $10, and the antics of Jamie and Claudia kept me hooked from beginning to end.

My Dad keeps asking me when I’ll stop watching animated movies, and if you’re reading this, Dad, I’m pretty sure the answer is never. I loved “How to Train your Dragon.” The book series became popular after I had stopped reading in the kids section, so I thought I would take an auditory trip through Hiccup’s world. “How to Train Your Dragon,” the book/audiobook, bears little resemblance to the movie, but it was no less delightful. Full of wry English wit, Cressida Cowell and narrator Gerard Doyle weave a tale of dragons so matter of fact, it makes it hard to believe there aren’t dragons among us. If Gerard Doyle isn’t your style, you can also listen to David Tennant, of “Doctor Who” fame, read it to you in his dulcet Scottish brogue. Hiccup’s and Toothless’ antics will keep you amused, and whether you’re Team Doyle or Team Tennant you’ll enjoy the caper.

Audiobooks aren’t for everyone, and I have run into may fair share of annoying narrators, but if you’re sick of listening to the latest earworm on repeat, commercials or whatever else is gumming up your radio, check out an audiobook and let it take you to Neverland, Narnia, or the 100 Acre Wood. No reading interruptions required. What reading gaps do you need to fill?

— Lauren Taylor is a youth services assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.