Create Lifelong Readers with Audiobooks
Audiobooks are a valuable tool that help promote learning and increase literary and listening skills. As librarians Sharon Grover and Lizette Hannegan state in their book, Listening to Learn: Audiobooks Supporting Literacy, “Current audiobook productions – with their high production values, stellar narrators and wide variety of formats – can be one avenue to reach reluctant or struggling readers, as well as their proficient peers who are looking for more time to include reading in their busy schedules.”
The importance of getting students to develop a love of literature begins with connecting them with the right content. Teri Lesesne, a former middle school teacher and current Professor in the Department of Library Science at Sam Houston State University, is an audiobook advocate who says, “Choice is a word often mentioned when it comes to motivating readers. And, choice also needs to extend to the medium through which students read.” When you provide the best content and a variety of ways to experience stories you create lifelong readers and listeners.
Here are some recommendations of titles that will resonate with a variety of listeners.
Everyone enjoys a good laugh – that’s why humorous listens are always popular:
Newbery Honor–author Shannon Hale and her husband Dean Hale teamed up to write The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, a Middle Grade “tail” of Marvel's cute, quirky and downright furry super heroine. With a talented author team that’s known for writing strong characters and an adorable but feisty protagonist, Squirrel Girl is a fantastic adventure. It’s read by Abigail Revasch with Tara Sands and will have girls and boys of all ages laughing out loud. (Recommended for listeners aged 8-14, but it’s perfect for family listening.)
New York Times best-selling author Garth Nix wrote Frogkisser!, a humorous stand-alone novel featuring a fabulous, no-nonsense princess who is plagued with the unfortunate power to break evil spells with magic lip balm. In an AudioFile Earphones award-winning review, they praise, “Narrator Marisa Calin has a marvelous way of interpreting this story’s characters – human, animal, and fantastical…Calin melds barking, panting and speech to bring out the comedy.” The sly humor and fast-paced action will appeal to a broad audience, including crossover adult fantasy fans, which makes this title perfect for family listening.
Celebrity names have the power to capture attention, and these stories will keep listeners engaged:
Multi-talented actor Jason Segel teamed up with Kirsten Miller to write the hilariously frightening Nightmares! series. This New York Times best-selling trilogy is about a group of kids who must face their fears to save their town from nightmares. The Nightmares! series is narrated by Jason Segel who brings a personal touch to these kid-friendly stories that are guaranteed to elicit plenty of laughs. Booklist raves, “Listening to Segel's familiar voice is like having a tale told by a favorite uncle...The zany humor of the surreal Netherworld is handled just as well as the softer moments...This is satisfying fantasy, with emotional depth.”
Titles that appeal to guys (and girls):
Listening Library teamed up with beloved author Jon Scieszka and Dr. Rose Brock to create Guys Listen, which aims to entice boys to tune into storytelling. By embracing technology and encouraging choice you can help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers. Visit www.guyslisten.com for more details and to request a free CD sampler of Dr. Rose Brock and Jon Scieszka discussing this topic in depth.
Jon Scieszka and Dr. Rose Brock
Jon Scieszka’s wildy popular Frank Einstein series follows child genius Frank Einstein on hilarious adventures. Jon uses real-life science and his pulpy science-fiction sense of humor to create an engaging story that will entertain kids while also educating them since these stories fit curriculum needs for science-related reading. Scieszka and Brian Biggs, the illustrator who voices the robots, narrate this series which has been selected as a Booklist Audio Editor’s Choice, an AudioFile Best Voices and Best Audio, in addition to having received starred reviews, including one from Booklist which called the audio “perfection.”
Mike Mongo is a well-known space enthusiast, educator and public speaker whose passion for spaceflight will inspire young listeners and spark their interest in science and space travel. The Astronaut Instruction Manual, written and read by Mike Mongo, is an entertaining STEM title that will appeal to space enthusiasts ages 6-13. AudioFile magazine raves, “Mongo’s passion for his topic is evident in his enthusiastic reading. His zeal is infectious, and it's hard not to be inspired by his staunch support of space travel.”
Steve Sheinkin is a three-time National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor recipient who writes narrative nonfiction. His latest book, Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian Football Team, explores Native American history and the most popular sport in America, football, through the lens of two of the greatest names in the sport – Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner. Like Steve Sheinkin’s other titles, Undefeated is fast paced, thrilling and meticulously researched. AudioFile praises narrator Mark Bramhall’s “steady delivery [that] will make listeners feel like they’re part of every game.”
Romance and mystery excite teen listeners:
Attention all Hamilton fans: Alex and Eliza is the perfect marriage of author and subject matter. Melissa de la Cruz is a number-one New York Times best-selling author of many critically acclaimed novels. This story is about the love match between the scrappy orphan immigrant Alexander Hamilton and the beautiful upper-class Elizabeth Schuyler. Hamilton-mania shows no signs of waning, and both fans and new listeners will be clamoring for this title read by fan-favorite narrator Cassandra Campbell.
Fans of thrilling suspense will enjoy As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka, a spine-tingling mystery set in the icy winter landscape of Finland. The trilogy was first published in Finland and became an international sensation, selling 52 foreign licenses and over a million copies worldwide. AudioFile praises, “Ann Marie Lee's reading is as active and dramatic as the quick-paced story. She is facile at shifting between viewpoints and accents, dialogue and narrative.”
Be sure to listen to our webinar “Alike but Different” recorded last week, where I share more new releases, highlighting diverse titles with universal themes, more picks for guys and award winners for your collection development.
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Current research suggests that engaging different learning styles is crucial in helping students be successful. Audiobooks provide an appealing alternative for experiencing quality literature for all students, including those who have special needs, as well as those who are gifted, average or English Language Learners. A professor and former school librarian will offer an overview of how audiobooks impact literacy and help you address literacy challenges and improve student outcomes. Listen in to gain practical tips on building, circulating and marketing audiobook collections for children and teens. Plus, hear about titles that will grab even the most reluctant reader.
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Get Jodie's recommended titles on Titlewave.com