February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Audiobooks and the Summer Reading Push | Tech Tidbits

Summer’s here, I’m for that. Got my rubber sandals, got my straw hat.

…I’m just glad that I’m here.  ~ James Taylor


Or should the above lyrics read: “I’m so glad that it’s hear?”

Students often feel that summer is the time to take a break from all that learning and structure, and many are reluctant to dive into literature during the lazy days of summer. But summer is the perfect time to read for pleasure in serendipitous ways that are often more meaningful and empowering than the assigned reading teachers require during the school year. Encouraging students to read over the summer can have enormous benefits.  Literacy and reading teachers especially know that the longer our students take a break, the harder it is to regroup when school begins again.

small_Sync_icon_blueRecent studies have shown that audiobooks can not only be enjoyable, but can also lead to enhanced vocabulary and increased fluency and comprehension. For example, the School Library Research study showed that “readers’ use of audiobooks had a positive impact on reading skills and attitudes toward reading.” The recent Tales2go research study showed that if students spent 20 minutes a day, five days a week listening to audiobooks, they “attained 58 percent of the annual expected gain in reading achievement in just 10 weeks, putting them three months ahead of control students.”  It’s clear that reading of any kind is beneficial, but teens today need to be shown ways to incorporate reading into their busy lives, and this is exactly the time to lead the way. Audiobooks could be the perfect tool to match their busy summertime routines by providing an enjoyable complement to their travel, sports activities, family vacations, and even chores.

There are plentiful free resources for your students to use during their summer break. One fabulous source is the Audiobooksync.com summer reading program. This amazing program gives away a themed pair of downloadable high interest audiobooks every week for 15 weeks, for a total of 30 books. Each week, a nonfiction or classic is paired with a contemporary YA novel, and Audiobooksync has a downloadable tool kit for educators to promote it to students. Users can even text syncya to 25827 to receive text alerts about titles and their release date.

Students should also be encouraged to use their library card online with their local libraries, or get a library card from as many public libraries as they can! This is a true treasure trove for audiobooks and ebooks. Our school district and many public libraries use Overdrive to host the collection for our users, but there are some new providers too. I recently discovered Hoopla at one of our public libraries. Not only do they deliver audiobooks and ebooks, but for our reluctant readers, they also have comic books and some graphic novels too. Hoopla is also a source for music, television series, and movies, which might be a way to capture students’ interest in the tool. Other libraries are using the provider One click Digital for ebook and audio titles. My school library, as well as many public libraries, now provides access to online magazines digitally through ZINIO for libraries. Library cards are like gold to savvy users who frequently utilize these online collections.

librivoxFor audiobooks and ebooks in the public domain, there are lots of audio titles available through searchable services like Beelingo.com,  which uses the wealth of Librivox online books. Librivox is a non-profit entity that offers over 9,600 cataloged audio classics that are recorded by almost 7,500 volunteer readers and are available online for free.

Remember, the research says that as little as 20 minutes a day for five days a week can make a huge difference. If we can find the right two or three compelling audiobooks for our students, this experience has the potential to spark the love of literature as well as boosting their reading, vocabulary, and comprehension abilities.

For me, summer is a mere three weeks away, but with the gift of audiobooks from audiobooksync.com, I’ve already begun my summer reading. My summer chores are infinitely more appealing when I have compelling audiobooks with which to pass the time.


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Phil Goerner About Phil Goerner

Phil Goerner is the teacher librarian and tech innovator at Silver Creek High School in Longmont, CO. He can be found on Twitter @pgoerner. Phil is also an adjunct professor with University of Colorado at Denver in the School Library and Instructional Leadership program.

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  1. As an author I’ve seen an upsurge in the demand for audiobooks and the value that more and more people are placing on them. With our ever hectic lives they’re also enabling people to escape at a time and place that suits them. They’re also an excellent resource for those with dyslexia. Thanks for the post Phil.