Most of us can probably agree that audiobooks are a terrific way to pass the time on long road trips with the family. But what we can't seem to agree on is which title to listen to. My husband would likely choose some business or self-help tome (Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, perhaps) while I would rather enjoy something funny, like David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames. My 7-year-old's choice? Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.
So last week, before we departed for Cooperstown and Rochester, I took the boys to our local public library for what has become our pre-road trip ritual: Checking out new books, DVDs and audiobooks to pass the time in the car. In the audiobooks section my son was thrilled to discover a plastic box emblazoned with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid artwork. Inside was a little device about the size of a deck of cards. "Mommy," he asked, a little short of breath with excitement, "Is this a Wimpy Kid iPod?"
Not exactly. What Tommy discovered, and introduced to me, was the Playaway. It's a lightweight, portable device that contains pre-loaded audiobooks and runs on a single AAA battery. Plug your earbuds in, and you're ready to take your audiobook with you. Nothing to download. No CD player required. Just you and your book on a park bench.
The Playaway has been around since the end of 2005 and is popular with libraries, schools and military units around the world. Through a partnership with simply audiobooks (the Netflix of audiobooks), you can rent one Playaway at a time for a monthly fee of $18 and get them delivered direct to your mailbox.
So next time you're at the local library ask about the Playaway. If you're lucky you'll find one for every member of the family, making your next road trip a silent one.