Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

What: Bridal Veil Falls
Where: Columbia River Gorge

When: Year round
Why: These beautiful falls are only a short hike away
Cost: FREE

A Good Gray Bridal Veil Falls

Last July we hiked with my husband’s entire family—2 grandparents, 6 parents, and 10 kids ages 1 to 12—headed to the Gorge. Before showing them Latourell Falls, we stopped to check out the nearby Bridal Veil Falls for the first time.

Bridal Veil Falls was perfect for our group—it’s absolutely gorgeous with fairly easy access. It’s just a few miles west of Multnomah Falls off of the Historic Columbia River Highway. There’s a free parking lot with public restrooms (also free) (just to be clear).

There are actually two trails for Bridal Veil. The upper trail is a half mile round trip, and takes you around the precipice of the cliffs of the Gorge. Apparently you get a great view of the Pillars of Hercules, which is a big basalt tower with a killer name.

The lower trail is only about a mile round trip (but very steep), and it brings you up close and personal to the falls. That’s the route we picked. It was shady with some great glimpses of the Columbia.

Once you reach the roaring, tiered falls, you can view them from above at a platform and then climb (carefully!) down to the rocks. We spent tons of time exploring, tossing stones, and enjoying the refreshing spray by the pool. The lush, moss-covered scene even in the middle of summer will warm your Oregon-loving heart.

Save some energy for the hike back up, because the incline was a bit much for little legs. But overall this is an easy hike with a breathtaking payoff.

Portland Races for Families

A Good Gray Portland Races for Families

Want to be more active as a family? Try one of these local races that are juuuust right for families.
Dates for 2017 have been included.

SPRING
ORRC Hagg Lake Runs (Gaston): May 6, 2017, 10.5 miler, 10k, 5k; strollers welcome
Cinco de Mayo Run/Walk (Portland): May 7, 2017, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, Kids Half-Miler; jogging strollers welcome
Lake Run (Lake Oswego): May 13, 2017, 10k, 5k, Kids Dash;
Run Mama Run (Portland): May 14, 2017, 10k, 5k, Kids Fun Run; stroller friendly
Health Hillsboro Family 5k (Hillsboro): May 20, 2017, 5k; $5 adults, FREE under 18, stroller friendly

SUMMER
Grateful Dad Run/Walk (Portland): June 17, 2017, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, Kids Half Miler; this fun Father’s Day has a beautiful route along the Columbia River
Summer Solstice Sundowner at the Oregon Zoo (Portland): June 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm, 5k, Kids Run, Tot Trot; course runs entirely through the zoo
Color Fun Fest 5k (Portland): July 22, 2017, 5k; kids 12 and under free, wear white to this family-friendly run and brace yourself for some color!
Beaverton Sun Run (Beaverton): July 23, 2017, 10k, 5k, Kids Dash
Ladybug Run for CDH Awareness (Tigard): July 29, 2017, 10k, 5k, Kids Runs; this race raises money for children and families affected by CDH, a condition our sweet nephew, Jake, was born with
Garlic Run/Walk (North Plains): August 12, 2017, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k; no strollers

FALL
Hero-Up (Tigard): Sept. 2, 2017, Half Marathon, 5k, Kids Run; this fundraising race helps commemorates the life of the organizer’s son and raises money for children’s cancer research
Portland Marathon Kids Runs (Portland): Oct. 8, 2017, Marathon, Half Marathon, Kids and Toddler Runs

Any I missed? Let me know of your favorites!

Easter 2017: what’s hoppin’ on Portland’s West Side

Easter is almost here! There are plenty of fun activities for you and your fam… hop to it!

Easter 2017

APRIL 7 (FRIDAY)
Underwater Egg Hunt (Beaverton): Hunt for eggs in the pool and other fun Easter activities at the Conestoga Recreation and Aquatic Center. Preregister now! $7, 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

APRIL 8 (SATURDAY)
Peter Rabbit Pancake Breakfast and Carnival (West Linn): In its 41st year, this event at West Linn High School is a treat. From 8:00 am to noon, pay a small fee for breakfast, games, auction, and a visit with Peter Rabbit.
Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Bridgeport Village (Tigard): For $10 a ticket you can enjoy breakfast, crafts, music, prizes, and visits with the Easter Bunny and Mother Goose.
Egg Hunt for Hope (Sherwood): This fundraising egg hunt begins at 1:00 pm.

APRIL 15 (SATURDAY)
Underwater EGGstravaganza at SHARC (Hillsboro): Bring your kids to hunt for eggs and prizes, and even visit with the Easter Bunny. $10/resident, $15/non-resident.
Rabbit Romp at the Oregon Zoo (Portland): Free with zoo admission, children 10 and under can hunt for candy eggs every 15 minutes from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm.
Hippity Hop Bunny Hop Through the Pearl District (Portland): Come to the Pearl for fun activities, treats, and a hug and picture with the Easter Bunny. 10:30 am to 3:00 pm.
Spring Egg Hunt (Portland): This egg hunt—rain or shine—will have candy and prize eggs, as well as hot chocolate and donuts at Garden Home Recreation Center. Register online, $7, 11:00 am to noon.
Great Westside Easter Egg Hunt (Hillsboro): At the Washington County Fair Complex you can enjoy egg hunts and visits with the Easter Bunny. (Additional activities are available for an extra fee.) 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, $5/family.
Egg Hunt at Lee Farms (Tualatin): Each child 12 and under gets to hunt for eggs, decorate a cookie, see the Easter Bunny, and make crafts. 10:00 am to 12:30 pm. Tickets are $6 and are selling out fast.
Alpenrose Dairy Egg-stravaganza (Portland): Come for egg hunts (with prizes!), the Easter Bunny, and more, starting at 10:30 am.
Egg Hunt at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (Woodburn): Bring your little ones to hunt at one of the most beautiful places in Oregon. Come early for the hunts at 10:00 am and noon.

APRIL 16 (SUNDAY)
Sunrise Easter Service at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (Woodburn): What a beautiful place to start Easter Sunday! This 7:00 am Sunrise Easter Service in the tulip fields will be run by WAMA, Woodburn Area Ministerial Association.
Anything I missed? Please let me know in the comments below!

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Cape Meares Lighthouse

What: Cape Meares Lighthouse
Where: Tip of Cape Meares just south of Tillamook Bay

When: Year round, 7 am to dusk (tours April to October)
Why: You get a historical lighthouse, incredible views, and natural wonders all in one stop
Cost: FREE

a-good-gray-cape-meares-lighthouse

About 10 miles west of Tillamook way out on Cape Meares, you’ll find a bit of a treasure: a historical lighthouse surrounded by interesting wildlife, spectacular views, and fascinating trees. And it’s all accessible from the same parking lot.

The Cape Meares Lighthouse was built in 1889. As Oregon’s shortest lighthouse, it gives you a great view of its top with little effort. There is a shady, paved trail down to the lighthouse from the parking lot (save some energy for the walk back because it’s deceivingly steep). They have a teensy interpretive/gift shop and free tours from April to October (with limited days/times in the Spring and Fall). Small children aren’t allowed on the tour, but anyone can walk around the lighthouse exterior year-round.

Cape Meares is also a great place to bird-watch or whale watch during migration seasons. There are designated viewing points, but there are incredible views all around, in part thanks to the National Wildlife Refuge that cover the cape.

A short hike from the parking lot you’ll also find two interesting Sitka Spruces. There are two you won’t want to miss: one is the Octupus Tree, which has what looks like tentacles reaching up. It’s an Oregon Heritage Tree, which basically means it’s super old. And cool. It’s considered a sacred tree to local tribes, and is probably 250 years old. (It was already an adult by the time Lewis & Clark made it to the coast!)

The second Sitka is even larger and older: Old Spruce is 144 feet tall and 15.5 feet in diameter, and is an estimated 750 to 800 years old! It’s the oldest of its kind in the state. Old Spruce will require you to park in a different lot (near the entrance to the scenic viewpoint), but it’s still only takes a short hike to reach it.

When you visit, try to check the roads in advance. We had to turn home once during a rainy season due to sinkholes, and I know the roads have been closed for landslides before too.

You probably won’t spend hours and hours at Cape Meares, but it’s a breathtaking spot and well worth the scenic drive.

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Picture Books by Audrey and Don Wood

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If you haven’t had the delightful experience of reading a book by Audrey and Don Wood, you simply must remedy that STAT.

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Photo courtsey Scholastic.com

This husband-wife team has turned out a heap of adored books—they’ve collaborated on over 50! While Audrey has written several books with other illustrators, her best ones are all illustrated by Don.

So try one of these favorites out. You shant be disappointed!

 

Piggies
piggiesMy sister and her kids first shared this with me long before I was a mom (the copy we have still has a note in the front addressed to “Aunt Jackie”). My kids now love it for the easy story-telling and the terrifically charming illustrations.

The Napping House
nappingThis delightful picture book is a winner thanks to repetitive storytelling style and darling illustrations. It’s a great read when you’re waking up!

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear
little-mouseThe title is a giveaway to the plot (a little mouse is trying to hide his red, ripe strawberry from a big hungry bear), but it’s hilarious. And just plain cute.

Quick as a Cricket
cricketAs a parent, you’ll love how this book teaches opposing emotions and our complex characteristics as human beings. Your kids will just think it’s cool. Try it out.

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub
kingThis tale is funny, quirky, and beautifully illustrated. Plus, it earned a Caldecott Honor!

Elbert’s Bad WordelbertThis book helps teach kids how to talk appropriately in a fun way. Don and Audrey teamed up for the illustrations, so together they take a different style for this book.

Heckedy Peg
heckedyFolks, this story is a bit twisted and dark. It reminds me of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. But I can’t help but like it! The artwork helps add some innocent magic. Read it with an older child.
Which are your favorites??ave

‘Tis the Week Before Christmas: Portland’s West Side 2016

christmas-2016

‘Tis the week before Christmas,
And the kids are out of school
They’re overflowing with seasonal cheer
And you juuust might lose your cool

But thank your lucky stars!
Portland is full of holiday fun
Check out the list below

And start with your favorite one

Bundle up your sweet family
And go make some memories
Merry Christmas to all

And to all, the happiest holidees!


CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Christmas Ships (Portland, through Dec. 18, 7 to 8 pm): Since 1954 Portlanders have paraded down the Willamette and Columbia Rivers with their boats and ships blinged out for Christmas. Find a spot on the waterfront and enjoy the fun.
Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway (Portland, evenings Nov. 25 to Dec. 25, $20/car): Stay cozy in the car and drive through this spectacular light display.
ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo (Portland, Nov. 25 to Jan. 1, 5 to 9 pm): The zoo dazzles with a million and a half lights. Prices vary, members are free. It gets busy, so plan for a crowd.
The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights (Portland, through Dec. 30, 5 to 9:30 pm): Walk through the impressive light displays at the Grotto, a 62-acre Catholic Shrine and botanical garden. There are half a million lights, holiday concerts, and outdoor caroling. Adults $11, children (3-12) $6, children 2 and under FREE.
Christmas Fantasy Trail at Wenzel Farm (Oregon City, Dec. 2 to 30, 6-9 pm): Take a walk surrounded by thousands of Christmas lights, including a castle and tunnel. Adults $6, Children 12 and under $5.
Peacock Lane Christmas Lights (Portland, Dec. 15 to 31, 7 to 10 pm): These neighbors have a long gone all out providing beautiful Christmas displays. FREE. It gets busy, so it’s best to park far and walk more.
Lighting of Maddox Woods (West Linn, Nov. 19 to Dec. 31, 4-9 pm): Enjoy a magical walk down a lighted, accessible path through the woods to a viewing platform on the Willamette River.

INDOOR EVENTS
Pittock Mansion Christmas Exhibit (Portland, Nov. 21 to Dec. 31, 11 am to 4 pm): Their annual holiday exhibit doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy each room’s “Symbols of the Season” while local musicians play. Adults $11, Youth (ages 6-18) $8, Children under 6 FREE.
24 Days of Music at the Portland Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Lake Oswego, Dec. 1 to 24, 7 pm): Come to the visitor center for nightly choirs and performances. Admission is free, but seating is limited.
The Nutcracker Ballet (Keller Auditorium, Portland, Dec. 10 to 26, 2:00 pm/7:30 pm): Share the magic of the Nutcracker ballet with your child. Performed by the Oregon Ballet Theatre.
“A Christmas Carol” at Portland Playhouse (Portland, Nov. 30 to Dec. 30, 2:00 pm/7:00 pm): Introduce your children to this Christmas classic with a live performance.

OUTDOOR EVENTS
Christmas in Dairyville and Storybook Lane at Alpenrose Dairy  (Portland, through Dec. 18, times vary): This charming little Portland-area tradition includes carols, cool decor, and Santa.  Admission is free.
The Holiday Express by the OR Rail Heritage Foundation (From Oaks Park Station, various dates and times until Dec. 18): Join Santa and his elves on this vintage train as you wind through both the wilderness and the city. Tickets sell out fast, but you might get lucky!
The Polar Express by the Mt. Hood Railroad (Hood River, various dates and times until Dec. 28): Join Santa on this magical train ride based on the popular book and movie “The Polar Express.” You’ll get treated to hot cocoa, music, and a special gift. Buy tickets in advance!
Winter Village at Orenco Station (Hillsboro, Dec. 2 to Jan. 2, 10 am to 10 pm): This holiday tradition in its 2nd year and brings the only open-air ice skating rink to the area. Adults $12, Kids 4-9 $9, Kids 3 and under FREE, plus skate rental.

SINGLE DAY EVENTS
Song Circle Holiday Edition at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 19, 6:30 pm)
Gingerbread Houses at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 19, 4 pm): Registration required
Jingle Babies at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 20, 10:30 am): For children 0 to 6.
Life-Sized Candyland Game at Brookwood Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 20, 2:30 pm)
Family Holiday Movie at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 21, 2-4:00 pm)
Winter Crafts at Shute Park Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 21, 2-3:30 pm)
Holiday Storytime at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 22, 1:00 pm): Ages 2-6
Holiday Movie Marathon at Shute Park Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 22, 2:30-5:30 pm)
Winter Wonderland at Brookwood Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 23, times vary): Christmas movies, Family Holiday Sing-Alongs, Storytimes

Anything I missed? What would you add?

GUEST POST: CHRISTMAS STORIES UNDER THE TREE

When my super-mom friend, Janel, told me about this Christmas tradition of hers last year, I knew I wanted to share it with each of you. I hope you feel inspired!
a-good-gray-christmas-stories-under-the-tree-a-family-tradition

My favorite tradition is reading a Christmas story under the Christmas tree each night. I wrap and number them, and the kids think it’s the best that they get to open a present each night. I LOVE it and so do they! When my oldest (now 8 years old) was a baby I started collecting Christmas books. I have always loved children’s lit, and knew it was something I wanted to make part of our Christmas. I love how it makes our home feel!

At first, I checked them out at the library, and slowly each year I have added to the collection. I also keep them with my Christmas decorations and the books only come out at Christmas time.

Here are some of our very, very favorites:

1. Santa Claus: This one my kids spend hours looking through. It tells about Santa’s workshop and has really fascinating details.

2. I Believe in Santa Claus: About Santa and Christ and their similarities.

3. Christmas Day in the Morning: This is our very favorite! You know it’s good when it makes my husband tear up.

4. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad (A Golden Look-Look Book): Gotta love Mercer Mayer.

5.The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale: Three trees grow up to be just what they always dreamed, but in a completely different way then they pictured. All centered around parts of Christ’s life.

6. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree: I love how this tree provides holiday cheer for so many. First published in 1963, this story has been a favorite for generations. The illustrations are fun and cheerful.

7. The Polar Express: This is a must with little boys.

8. Bear Stays Up for Christmas: We love the Bear books and this one does not disappoint. Cute story and rhymes, and colorful pages.

9. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey: Perfect for anybody who has lost somebody, and also perfect for anybody else as a Christmas story. Beautiful illustrations.

10. The Mansion: Beautiful message in this one.

11. Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas: It’s fun to add authors your kids are already familiar with.

12. The Empty Stocking: This story is about a pair of twins, one nice and one naughty, who are a little nervous about Christmas morning.

13. Olivia Claus: We love Olivia, and she’s done it again!

14. The Gingerbread Man: I love this version of the gingerbread man, it really comes to life.

15. Frosty the Snowman: My kids ask for this one a lot, probably because they love the song.

16. The Gift of the Magi: This timeless story of love and sacrifice of a young couple is made even more wonderful by the detailed illustrations.

17. C is for Christmas: Full of color and fantastic detail, this is a wonderful version of the classic story.

18. Let it Snow: The darling Toot and Puddle are back in this Christmas story about the gift of friendship

19. The Year of the Perfect Christmas TreeThis unforgettable tale, a seasonal classic, is a touching and joyful story about courage and the power of family.

20. The Mitten: Full of color and fantastic detail, this is a wonderful version of the classic story.

21. The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving: The bear cubs learn a valuable lesson about sharing with one another.

22. Walk this World at Christmastime: This is a journey through the world at Christmastime. It has flaps for children to look through and beautiful pictures.

23. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: This one is a must and a classic.

24. The Night Before Christmas: We always read this Christmas Eve, and I love the Clement C. Moore version.

I’m so grateful for great books to bring in the Christmas spirit.

Janel is someone I admire greatly. She loves her family and delights in her children, and she’s one of the most beautiful, happy, determined people I know! She lives in Portland’s west side with her husband and four children.

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Thanksgiving Play 2016

It’s Thanksgiving again! Somehow! (Is it seriously almost 2017?? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!) Whether you’re planning a family run or looking to kick off the Christmas season, there’s plenty going on this week on Portland’s west side.

November 23 (WEDNESDAY)

Turkey Trot 5k Run/Walk + Kids Trot (Portland International Raceway, 5:30 pm): Register to run through the raceway’s holiday lights. Dogs welcome.
Harvest Month (Portland Children’s Museum, November): Participate in different harvest-related activities with your kids all November long.

November 24 (THURSDAY)
Turkey Trot at the Oregon Zoo (Portland, 8:00 to 9:45 am): This 4-mile fun run or walk winds through Washington Park and ends at the zoo. Children events included, and jogging strollers welcome. Register today.
Bridgeport Village Turkeython (Tigard, 8:30 am): This fun morning includes a 5k, 10k, and Kidathon. Register online.
Give ‘n’ Gobble (Sherwood High School, 9:00 am): This 5k walk or 10k run with a food drive is a Thanksgiving tradition. This race sells out, so register in advance.

November 25 (FRIDAY )
My Macy’s Portland Holiday Parade (Portland, 9:00 am): Kick off the holidays with Portland’s own Macy’s parade. Geared towards children.
Tree Lighting Ceremony at Pioneer Square (Portland, 5:30 to 6:30 pm): Witness the lighting of the 75-foot Christmas tree with holiday music and festivities.
Holiday Express Train Ride (Portland, weekends Nov. 25 to Dec. 18): Take a 1-hour ride along the beautiful Willamette with Santa on this holiday-decorated train. Made possible by the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation.
Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show (Portland International Raceway, Nov. 25 to Dec. 25, 5:00 pm): Drive through one of the largest light shows in the country. $20/car.
Zoo Lights (Portland, Nov. 25 to Jan. 1, 5:00 pm): Come see your favorite zoo all lit up for Christmas.
Christmas Festival of Lights (Grotto, Nov. 25 to Dec. 30, 5:00 to 9:30 pm): This family-oriented tradition includes dozens of choirs and hundreds of lights.

November 26 (SATURDAY )
Hillsboro Holly Days (Downtown Hillsboro, 1:00 to 6:00 pm): A Christmas extravaganza featuring Santa from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, live reindeer, train rides, the tree lighting at 5:30 pm, shopping, music, activities, and more.
Cinnamon Bear Cruise on the Spirit (Portland, weekends Nov. 26 to Dec. 27): Take a 2-hour ride on the Portland Spirit with Cinnamon Bear and friends. Enjoy snacks, drinks, and holiday activities.

Community Service Projects for Families

a-good-gray-service-projects-for-families

How do you raise compassionate, selfless little people? Good question! I’m only 6 years into this child-rearing thing so I’m still figuring it out.

But here’s something: teach them to care for other people and to try to understand their struggles. Last September my girls and I watched a documentary called “Living on One Dollar,” and it led to a discussion about poverty and the challenges some people face. We all decided we’re pretty dang spoiled.

We felt inspired to do something to give to others, so we organized a small coat drive. I searched and found the Hillsboro Family Resource Center, a group helping families in our town. The girls decorated a large box, we put it on our porch for a few weeks, and I advertised our coat drive to our friends and neighbors by email and social media. BOOM! I kept the donating circle small, but we ended up with several bags of donations. It was a great experience for our little family.

So what else can our families do? Check out this list of community service projects for families to do together in the Portland area:

  1. Offer to help an older neighbor with yard or housework
  2. Coat or Clothing Drive: Contact a group like the Foster Closet or Lutheran Community Services NW to find out what they need. Leave a large box on your porch and advertise to your neighbors and friends with fliers or by social media (never post your address online). Set a deadline and drop off the donations together.
  3. Make dinner together for a friend or neighbor
  4. Make “Bags of Sunshine” for Cancer Patients: We passed these out in the waiting room at my Dad’s cancer center. The girls helped fill small Ziplocs with chapstick, candy, lotion, and a cheerful note. It was meaningful for all of us.
  5. Northwest Children’s Outreach: This group provides clothes, toiletries, and more for foster children. Families of all ages can come organize and sort during set hours at their locations in Beaverton, Tualatin, and more.
  6. Rake leaves or shovel snow for your neighbors
  7. Make cards or Valentine’s for a senior center or nursing home
  8. HillsDOer Day: Each October the city of Hillsboro organizes service projects all around, and many are great for families.
  9. Oregon Food Bank: Organize a food drive or even take your children (as young as 5!) to pack food at their Beaverton or Portland locations. Learn more here.
  10. Clean up Trash: Go for a walk or head to a park and clean up trash. Wear gloves, supervise, and give some safety tips.
  11. Give to the homeless: Wrap burritos in foil or stuff a rolled pair of socks with chapstick and granola bars and hand them out to people you pass on the streets. (Use appropriate caution.)
  12. Donate to a children’s hospital: Here are the sorts of things they need.
  13. Oregon Special Olympics: Take older kids to volunteer or young kids to cheer at their next event
  14. Write letters to members of the military through A Million Thanks
  15. Do a lemonade stand or bake sale and donate the profits
  16. Make Blankets for Project Linus: Even young children can help make easy, no-sew fleece blankets to donate

 

I’d love to learn of more! Comment and share other service opportunities, pretty please.

Audiobooks for Families Read by Jim Dale

Audiobooks Jim Dale A Good Gray

My husband and I first heard of Jim Dale when we moved from Utah to Virginia as newlyweds. We’d borrowed the first few Harry Potter books on CD, and we listened to these beloved stories hour after hour as we treked cross-country. We already knew we loved J.K. Rowling’s book series, but hearing Dale read them with so many different voices and styles was a whole new experience. By the time we reached that last time zone, we were total Jim Dale groupies.

In the years since, we’ve gotten to know the work of the award-winning Dale better and better. We mostly listen to audiobooks on long roadtrips, but really they’re great whether you’re just driving around town or spending the day at home. Dale’s audiobook collection is pretty vast, but here are some favorites that are appropriate for children and entertaining for the whole fam.

Note: Not all of the following are best for young children. Do your homework.

“Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling
Introduce a new generation to the wonder of Harry Potter and his magical world as they fight the rise of evil. Dale manages a different voice and inflection for each character, and it is absolutely phenomenal. Phe-nom-e-nal.

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
Listening to Dale’s reading of this story has become a yearly tradition at our house. The story can be a bit mature, but it’s a great way to celebrate the Christmas season.

“Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie
After the success of a short story and play about Peter Pan, Barrie developed a novel called “Peter and Wendy.” This novel, here known as “Peter Pan,” is sweet, full of wit, and a bit darker than the Disney story.

“Peter and the Wolf” by Sergei Prokofiev
This enchanting fairy-tale is told with Dale’s characteristic energy, and paired with some of the best-known songs (performed by the Seattle Symphony). Be warned, however, that the ending is changed from the original.

“Return to the Hundred Acre Wood” by David Benedictus
Written in 2009, this story brings back Pooh and his friends with the permission of A.A. Milne’s estate. It’s not exactly the same feel (some of the magic of the original is gone), but with Dale it’s still a good listen.

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
Enter the world of fantasy and nonsense with Carroll’s one-of-a-kind tale. This classic is, again, darker than Disney but an enlightening ride all the same.

“Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne
I still have yet to read this classic (PLEASE DON’T TAKE AWAY MY ENGLISH DEGREE), but it has quite the following and I trust Dale. Implicitly.

What are some of your favorite family-friendly audiobooks?? I’d love to try them out.