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Susan Says: Wanted: Audio Books

Susan Norwood Guest Blogs today:

If I had the money, the first thing I would buy for my library is audio books. Even though I have really interesting books, there are days when kids don’t want to read anything. Sometimes kids just get tired. By the time my 6th period class arrives at 3:00, many of them have mentally packed up and gone home. This is even worse if you have the same students in a 2 period block at the end of the day. They are tired of school and having to think.

I used to do a lot of reading aloud; however, it’s really tiring and hard on your voice to read for hours a day. Also, not all of your students will like what you are reading. This is where audio books come in.

I have begun to check out audio books from the local library using my own card. So far, none have been “jacked,” as my students say. If they are, I will have to throw myself on the mercy of the library. I have also invested in rechargeable batteries, a recharger, and some inexpensive headphones. Lots of kids have ear buds, because they have Ipods.

Audio books are wonderful. Students consider reading time to be “free time,” if I allow them to listen to audio books. I love seeing the kids sharing a set of ear buds so they can both listen to the same book.

I only started this a couple of weeks ago, so I am still working out the kinks. Some kids will sit with ear buds, only to be listening to tunes on their Ipods. Even so, they have a book in their hands and appear to be reading, so I can’t really complain. My biggest problem is availability.

I forgot to mention that kids vastly prefer Playaways. They don’t fall off of the desk like CD players, use 1 small AAA battery, and are easy to use. I tell the kids that I don’t have a lot to choose from, but will do my best to find books they like.

Here are the audio books that have been the most popular: Deadline (Crutcher), Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters (Giles), Thirteen Reasons Why (Asher), Compound (Bodeen), Tupac and D Foster (Woodson), and Goosebumps (various titles – Stine). This list is incomplete. I know of many books the kids would like. They tell me what they want, but there are few titles from which to choose.

Administrators, Title I folks, Librarians, and Publishers—Kids love Playaways. Please make them more available to our students. My next door teacher-neighbor has a quote that goes something like this, “Readers are made on the laps of their parents.” Not all of our kids have parents who read. Not all of our kids have parents who speak, let alone read, English. Audio books fill that gap. Is anybody listening?


  1. Elizabeth Roberts says:

    I totally agree. I love audio books and I love playaways. I’ve recently been listening to them myself and other teachers have noticed and then they ask what they are. This has stimulated new interest in them and new ways to use them. Our ESOL teacher LOVES them and loves paring them with the physical book if we have it.

    The one problem I do have is that they are fairly expensive, especially because we have found they break pretty easily, and once that happens, there is nothing you can do. You just have to get rid of the playaway. Still I’m convinced we need more or another convenient way to share mp3 audio books with our students who all have ipods anyway!

  2. I just finished listening to the Edgar Award winning mystery, Acceleration by Graham McNamee for my website. It is a gripping read for the twelve and up crowd about a seventeen-year-old boy who works in the Lost and Found department of the Toronto subway. When he finds the diary of a serial-killer-in-the-making, he is determined to track the guy down before anyone gets hurt. The main character is smart, funny, irreverent, and relatable. A fantastic read (or listen!).

  3. I have several audio Books would love to sell them cheap. Or If there are certain ones your looking for email me Thanks


  1. […] entries in my Google Reader subscriptions, so it was only today that I read Susan Norwood’s guest blog (from November 21st) at Practically Paradise. “If I had the money,” she begins, […]