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How Families Can Explore the Immigrant Experience With Audiobooks

My daughter is one to ask a million questions. She is three, and precocious, and we find ourselves having deep discussions about how the human body works, Pete Seeger’s life, why Fritz breaks Clara’s Nutcracker, and more recently, why we help others who are here as refugees and asylum seekers.

Here in Portland, Maine, we have a growing community of immigrants and refugees who have come from countries where their lives are at risk, their homes are destroyed, and they and their children have experienced things no person should. How do I explain that to my three-year-old without making her frightened?

The answer, in our case, came in part through reading. There are many beautiful and moving picture and chapter books for learning about the experiences of immigrants and refugees with content that is approachable for children and helps facilitate discussions at their level. These titles are excellent, as well, for helping children who have come to America as immigrants and refugees see a mirror of their own lived experiences.

Through a wonderful initiative developed in Maine called I’m Your Neighbor, we found a beautiful collection of books to give children windows into the lives of others and to help them see their own experiences reflected back to them. Dive in and see what amazing resources you can find!

We’ve selected six audiobooks to help your children, or the children in your life, understand and reflect on what it means to be new to a country and to leave everything you knew behind. There are audiobooks appropriate for kids as young as three to ages ten and older.

I'm New Here

I’M NEW HERE
by Anne Sibley O’Brien, read by Frankie Corzo, Ariana Delawari, Ramon De Ocampo, Ruth Livier, Anne Sibley O’Brien
Live Oak Media, Ages 4-6
Young, vibrant narrators voice heartfelt concerns as students from Guatemala, Korea, and Somalia are each welcomed into new classrooms in a new country. Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

We Are America

WE ARE AMERICAA Tribute from the Heart
by Walter Dean Myers, read by Macleod Andrews, Olivia DuFord, Dion Graham, Lizann Mitchell, Christopher Myers, Walter Dean Myers, Johanna Parker, Adriana Sananes, Kaipo Schwab, et al.
Live Oak Media, Ages 6+
A chorus of voices welcomes listeners to this meditation on what it is to be American. Poems and quotes are delivered by a talented cast of narrators that reflect the diversity of the United States. Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

Save Me a Seat

SAVE ME A SEAT
by Sarah Weeks, Gita Varadarajan, read by Josh Hurley, Vikas Adam
Scholastic Audiobooks, Ages 8+
Using two narrators is the perfect way to deliver this story, told as the alternating first-person recollections of two fifth-grade boys. Vikas Adam is the voice of Ravi, a recent immigrant from India, and Josh Hurley is the voice of Joe, a boy with auditory processing disorder (APD).  Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

The Red Pencil

THE RED PENCIL
by Andrea Davis Pinkney, read by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Hachette Audio, Ages 8+
Pinkney performs her novel in free verse, which features Amira, a girl listeners meet when she’s living a happy life with her family in the South Darfur region of Sudan. Everything changes when her family is forced to flee. Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

A Crack in the Sea

A CRACK IN THE SEA
by H.M. Bouwman, read by Bahni Turpin, H.M. Bouwman [Afterword]
Listening Library, Ages 10+
Bouwman weaves a fascinating story of brothers and sisters, history and fantasy in this incredible tale. Narrator Bahni Turpin is extraordinary in bringing this fantasy world and its characters to life. Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

Brooklyn Bridge

BROOKLYN BRIDGE
by Karen Hesse, read by Fred Berman
Macmillan Audio, Ages 10+
Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse’s deeply moving story concerns Russian immigrants in 1903 Brooklyn. Fred Berman beautifully captures 14-year-old Joseph’s electric excitement to participate in the life of the city around him. Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

Have you listened to a family audiobook on this topic? Please share about it below!

Don’t miss our interviews with Ramon de Ocampo, one of the narrators of I’M NEW HERE, and a two-fer interview with Josh Hurley and Vikas Adam narrators of SAVE ME A SEAT— both part of our ongoing Behind the Mic series!

Find more great audiobooks here: Audiobooks for Kids & Teens. AudioFile’s dynamic lists come complete with age ranges.

 

Behind the Mic: If Not for You

AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to talk with Khristine Hvam about recording the latest in Debbie Macomber’s New Beginnings series, IF NOT FOR YOU. Khristine speaks with such heart and entices listeners to step into the unlikely friendship of Beth and Sam.

“We can all relate to getting to a point in our lives when we need to make our own choices . . . and finding love along the way. —Narrator Khristine Hvam

If Not For You

IF NOT FOR YOU
by Debbie Macomber, read by Khristine Hvam
Random House Audio/ Books on Tape
AudioFile Earphones Award

Debbie Macomber’s books have legions of fans, and she uplifts her readers with stories of connection and hope. We love to hear that this newest audiobook, winner of our Earphones Award, follows through on that promise. Khristine brings keen intuition to her performance of Macomber’s new classic. Listen to a sound clip from IF NOT FOR YOU and read AudioFile’s full review here.

If you can’t get enough of Debbie Macomber, you might enjoy AudioFile’s interview with her!

Debbie MacomberTalking with Debbie Macomber

Discover more great romances to listen to at our website!

Solve: The Environmental Mystery

Boar IslandSaturday is Earth Day, and since I’m a bit of an environmental enthusiast, I thought it fitting to celebrate with some of my favorite mysteries featuring crime solvers who are passionate about the planet. They’re park rangers and game wardens and wildlife specialists encountering murder and mayhem amid the beauties of nature. And they sure do find plenty of mischief to keep them busy.

One of the ground-breakers in this sub-genre of mystery is, of course, Nevada Barr. She introduced her spitfire protagonist, National Parks Ranger Anna Pigeon, back in 1993 with TRACK OF THE CAT. Since then, Anna has traversed the American landscape in National Parks across the country. 2016 brought the 19th Anna Pigeon novel, BOAR ISLAND, alongside the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. Seasoned veterans Barbara Rosenblat and Joyce Bean have narrated the majority of the series in audiobook, giving
series devotees a consistent voice for Anna Pigeon and bringing the beauty of Barr’s settings to life. Have you checked out this series? Do you have a favorite?

Sanibel Flats

Randy Wayne White takes us off dry land with his marine biologist protagonist Doc Ford. White had his own experiences with sea life while working as a fishing guide on Sanibel Island, so fittingly, Doc Ford’s first appearance was titled SANIBEL FLATS in 1990. Last month, his 24th adventure launched—MANGROVE LIGHTNING. I have a special affinity for this series partly because one of my favorite narrators has performed the majority of the series: George Guidall. There have also been recordings from two other seasoned greats in the mystery genre, Dick Hill and Ron McLarty.

Vicious CircleOf course I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention C.J. Box’s Wyoming game warden, Joe Pickett. Box introduced Pickett in 2001 with his debut, OPEN SEASON. Last month Pickett returned in the seventeenth installment for the series, VICIOUS CIRCLE. David Chandler has been along to supply Pickett’s voice since the very beginning. And the amazing landscape of his Wyoming home gives Box plenty of nature in which to wreak havoc.

Sick PuppyThis is just a small snapshot of the mysteries that embed themselves in the jobs connected to nature and wildlife or environmental issues. Thrillers make use of issues like toxic poisonings (John Grisham’s THE APPEAL) and even the more humorous mysteries can have an ecological theme (Carl Hiaasen’s SICK PUPPY).  What are some of your favorites in this realm of mysteries and suspense? Any you wish were on audio but aren’t? I’d love to see Robert Greer’s ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE or Kirk Russell’s John Marquez series recorded for audio.

The Confident Parent

Behind the Mic: The Confident Parent

AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to talk with narrator Susan Boyce, who appealingly delivers author Jane Scott’s calm wisdom and accessible ideas from THE CONFIDENT PARENT. 

“It’s always exciting when my assignment is a book that touches a chord in a listener—and in me.” —Narrator Susan Boyce

Confident Parent

THE CONFIDENT PARENT
by Jane Scott, read by Susan Boyce
Dreamscape
AudioFile Earphones Award

In our newest issue we’re focusing on families—with an ear to some great audiobooks that parents can listen to as well as those that families listen to together. Every generation has parenting experts, child psychologists, or pediatricians—think Benjamin Spock, Arnold Gesell, B.F. Skinner, and Penelope Leach. I swore by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. Young parents find their own gurus, and the options are copious.

In THE CONFIDENT PARENT, Dr. Jane Scott offers back-to-basics tools for helping parents relax and feel more confident about raising their children. Hear a sample and read AudioFile’s full review here.

Keep an eye on this SELF channel for more parenting audiobook choices.  If you have an audiobook on child care that’s working for you, leave us a comment!

Tease: Sweet Dreams

When I set out to review SWEET DREAMS – an Audies finalist in the Erotica category – I first thought, oh, interesting, a collection of erotic tales set in India. My second thought was, oh. Accents. Each of these stories has a dreamy, slow pace, and each relies heavily on its Indian setting for context and tone. Without realistic and seamless accents, the audiobook would fail – and it wouldn’t be pretty. Enter narrators Simone Lewis and Vikas Adam, with their confident presentation and appropriate accents. Simone Lewis, especially, evokes the sensory nature of the Indian culture that Sunny Leone – a Canadian-born adult film star who works extensively in Indian cinema – shares in her vignettes.

 Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams
by Sunny Leone, read by Simone Lewis and Vikas Adam
Novel Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award
2017 Audies Finalist

Workaholic professional bachelors and bored housewives share moments of passion and loneliness. Both Lewis and Adam provide nuanced performances that share the sensual nature of Leone’s erotica, using delicate, twisting phrasing that sings with desire, longing, and love. Enjoy a sound clip and read the whole review here.

See the rest of the 2017 Audies Erotica finalists!