Blogs About Reading

Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Winning audiobook sources (but check for learning supports)

March 23, 2016

Creating access for learning through audiobooks may one day have full acceptance; yet changes are underway and options are improving so teachers, parents and students have choices about how students listen while learning.

Not created equally

Teachers of students who struggle to read print know that audio formats are not created equally. There is a continuum from listen-only to other audio formats that offer an array of learning supports. The challenge is not easy for putting a variety of educational options in place so that learning is accessible to meet the diversity of needs and/or preferences that learners have.

Sound Learning toolkit

For students who can learn by listening without intensive supports such as highlighting and options for dictionaries, note-taking, and more, The Audiobook Publishers Association offers a Sound Learning Literacy Toolkit on its website. "Available in formats that allow young people to plug into literature on every type of electronic device, audiobooks are perfect for on-the-go enjoyment. Reading for pleasure, which includes offering students the chance to select their own material, is an important part of any literacy experience so be sure to allow your students the opportunity to choose audiobooks themselves. The public library is a terrific resource for free audios to download or to enjoy on CD," it says.

Here are the APA's suggestions for finding best books:

The Audies

The Audio Publishers Association gives awards to audiobooks in over 25 categories, including ones for children and teens. The 2016 Audie Award Finalists are posted here. Use the drop-down menu to change categories.

American Library Association

The American Library Association holds annual audiobook awards competitions and creates recommended lists for children and teens, including:

Summer options

SYNC is a free a program coming back in May 2016 that shares two audiobook downloads for teens aged 13 and up during the summer. It pairs one contemporary and one classic title each week for a total of 30 books. SYNC is sponsored by AudioFile Magazine and books are downloaded through the OverDrive Media Console found in school and public libraries using a free app.

AudioRex on the Go, a list of suggested audiobooks for summer listening, is available from AudioFile Magazine.

Listen-only audiobooks may not go far enough to support learners. Students with disabilities have a free source of books in many formats, including audio formats with added learning options.

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943