RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Reading on the Road
, by
Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza

The Goza Family The Goza Family has been living and learning on the road since 1992. They tour full-time bringing stories to life with their giant over-sized book at schools and libraries as the Act!vated Storytellers. Kimberly also manages several Web sites including Families on the Road. Dennis is a playwright, and son Zephyr has two books published while growing up on the road. The Gozas have a weekly podcast "Activated Stories" featuring folktales and travel tales. Obviously well traveled, here's how they stay well read even when space is at a premium and they're constantly on a roll.


The Gozas and their motorhome
The Gozas: At home on a roll

Reading is, or should be, an important part of every family's life, even if they are on the road. The pioneers in covered wagons included an assortment of books in the precious cargo they hauled along the Oregon Trail. If they could do it, you can too. Full-timing in the Twenty-First Century can make it a challenge to be literate, but there are many ways to be well read while being well traveled.

One problem is that not having a permanent address can make it difficult to obtain a library card. Even if you have do have an address, it's difficult to return books you've borrowed while traveling. Our family has been known to mail books back to the library, which requires either spending a pretty penny on first class postage, or sending them in plenty of time to arrive by media mail.

Of course, you can always just buy books, but that can be REALLY expensive-although it's more economical and often more fun to ferret out used bookstores. Even so, books take up valuable space and add extra weight your vehicle must pull. You might be surprised by how much bulk even paperbacks can add up to in a short time! We recommend that when you've finished reading whatever books you do buy, you register them with BookCrossing and leave them for someone else to enjoy. You can go online and track the journey of "your" books across the country or even around the world!

You can save a great deal of space and money by downloading books to your computer or installing them on a PDA. For about $20, you can purchase the equivalent of an entire shelf of great books. Or you can often download books, especially literary classics, free. One site offering an enormous assortment of reading matter is Project Gutenberg.

The Goza family reading in their "living room"
The Gozas reading in their "living room"

It's also possible to get caught up on more recent books without spending money. Just drop in at one of the major book chains like Borders, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. They don't mind if you just make yourself at home for as long as you like. They know that enough people will end up making purchases to make up for those of us who pretend we're in a library. Actually, these stores tend to be more comfy than libraries; they have sofas, coffee shops and a variety of music, sometimes live. Over the years, we've come to think of Borders as our "living room."

Don't overlook audio books, which really can be a godsend on a long, tedious drive. They also allow more than one person to "read" a book at once. Books on tape or CD are often even pricier than the printed variety, but you can rent them affordably at many truck stops through Audio Adventures. (Hope you like mysteries, thrillers and westerns!) With this service, you can rent the audio book in one location and return it at another one down the road. A similar type of program is offered at Cracker Barrel stores. You can also download audio books at sites such as RoadTrip America has two full-time audio book reviewers and the list of the audio-books that they recommend can be viewed here.

Finally, try creating your own "audio books" by reading to each other while you've got a captive audience as you are rolling down the highway. Oral reading is almost a lost art, but it shouldn't be - it's far more enriching than reality TV!

Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr Goza


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