5 Novels in Verse: Audiobooks for National Poetry Month

Discover the Power of Young Adult and Children’s Audiobooks

Elizabeth Acevedo by Max Flatow Photography
Elizabeth Acevedo by Max Flatow Photography
Author Elizabeth Acevedo

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? That makes this month the perfect time to push your audiobook envelope and add some variety to your listening.

Although your first inclination might be to listen to a poetry collection (try Richard Blanco’s HOW TO LOVE A COUNTRY), I have another suggestion. One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy poetry is to listen to novels in verse. For today’s Take 5 recommendations, I’ve concentrated on audiobooks that are appropriate for teens but that deal with issues that listeners of all ages can relate to, such as self-image, the #MeToo movement, racial profiling, immigration, family, and finding one’s path.

By the way, today’s picks can also serve double duty for Children’s Book Week, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, starting on April 29. Listen to these audiobooks for the poetry, to discover the power of children’s stories, and to learn something about yourself and the world we live in.

Blood Water PaintJoy McCullough’s BLOOD WATER PAINT is based on the true story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th-century Italian Baroque painter who faced daunting hurtles on her journey to establish herself as a respected artist. Narrator Xe Sands’s smooth and unhurried performance highlights Gentileschi’s full range of emotions, especially her determination to find inner peace and justice after being sexually assaulted by a teacher. Although Gentileschi lived 400 years ago, the lessons her mother teaches her about being female in a male world are still relevant today.

MooIf you’re in a lighter mood, try MOO by Sharon Creech, which is the story of 12-year-old Reena, whose family has moved from the big city to rural Maine. Narrator Brittany Pressley captures Reena’s wonder at her new freedoms as well as her growing affection for Zora, an ornery cow she’s agreed to take care of for an elderly neighbor. This charming audiobook about making new friends of all ages is a good choice for family listening, and everyone will smile whenever Pressley speaks for Zora with a “Moo”!

PerfectThe four narrators who perform Ellen Hopkins’s PERFECT beautifully deliver the main characters’ inner trauma as they deal with the pressures (often self-imposed) to find self-worth. Aya Cash, Heather Lind, Aaron Tveit, and Tristan Wilds portray high school seniors whose quest for perfection leads them into a downward spiral of depression, drugs, and destructive behavior. The contemporary issues faced by these teens include body image, excelling at sports, sexuality, popularity, and meeting parental expectations.

SwingThe audiobook edition of SWING is performed by its author, poet Kwame Alexander, who adds an extra emotional layer to an already powerful story about two high school friends who should have nothing more to worry about than playing baseball and winning over the girl of their dreams. This novel in verse shows how even a good upbringing and a comfortable socioeconomic status can’t protect youngsters from the tough realities of life in America, especially for people of color. This heartbreaking but important listen is part of our summer SYNC audiobooks for teens program, and it can be downloaded for free at audiobooksync.com starting April 25th.

The Poet XPerformance poet Elizabeth Acevedo won an Earphones Award for her narration of her novel in verse THE POET X. This young adult audiobook explores the interlinked layers of 15-year-old Xiomara (X), a first-generation Dominican American who must balance her family’s Caribbean and Catholic traditions with her life as a Harlem high schooler. Writing provides X an outlet for private thoughts, such as her anger at being objectified and her growing attraction to a Trinidadian boy, whom she suspects won’t meet her mother’s standards.

I hope these audiobook recommendations will encourage you to listen to a novel in verse. If you’re already a fan, which titles were your favorites?

Elizabeth Acevedo photo by Max Flatow Photography

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

It’s Official — YA Rocks (In 6 Audiobooks)

Why I’m drawn to YA writing

Bahni Turpin for Audiobook of the Year
Bahni Turpin for Audiobook of the Year
Narrator Bahni Turpin

We adults who love YA titles used to be hesitant to reveal our passion, lest other adults recoil in literary-fiction-horror. But no longer. Bahni Turpin’s amazing performance of CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, a YA fantasy by Tomi Adeyemi, took the top prize — Best Audiobook — at the 2019 Audie Awards. AudioFile had already given Turpin an Earphones Award for her riveting rendition of the fierce tale about three teenagers who must return magic to an African kingdom from which it has been stolen. Do not miss Turpin’s singing of Yoruba incantations. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

8 Kids’ Audiobooks About Brave Women Who Fought for Change

Inspiration for Young Listeners

Roses and Radicals

Heroes

2019 marks the centennial of Congress approving the 19th Amendment, which gave many women the right to vote—a change that was brought about by a brave group of activists. The audiobooks in this list celebrate female activists—from more than 100 years ago all the way up to today. These inspirational true stories show ALL young listeners the importance of, and the power that comes from, speaking up for the rights of all people.

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET
by Lesa Cline-Ransome, read by SiSi Aisha Johnson, January LaVoy, Lisa Renee Pitts, Bahni Turpin
Live Oak Media, Ages 4-6

Four African-American women narrate in turn to describe Harriet Tubman’s voice rising in protest as a suffragist, as General Tubman, as a Union spy, and as an enslaved child when her father taught her to read the stars. Sounds of horse-drawn carriages, marching soldiers, spirituals, and rushing rivers help listeners imagine the many roles that Tubman played over her lifetime. Read more…

Sonja Cole
As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

Coretta Scott King Award-Winning Audiobooks

Beauty, intelligence, courage, and ingenuity

A Few Red Drops

Coretta Scott King 50th AnniversaryIn her speech accepting the 2018 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award, author Eloise Greenfield said, “Children need to know, and to see in books, the truth — the beauty, intelligence, courage, and ingenuity of African and African American people.” 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, given annually to African American authors and illustrators who demonstrate an appreciation of or affirm African American culture and universal human values. Many of this year’s Coretta Scott King Award winners and honorees are also excellent audiobooks. Read more…

Sonja Cole
As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

Love for the ALA Media Awards

Robin’s Roundup February 1

Sadie

Odyssey Award SealFor more than 80 years, the awards given by the American Library Association have set a high bar in children’s literature. The Caldecott and Newbery medals are the best known among the multiple awards that honor excellence in books, video, and audiobooks for children and young adults—collectively the Youth Media Awards. Of course, our favorite is the Odyssey Award, given to the best audiobook for this essential audience of listeners. This year the Odyssey Award goes to SADIE. AudioFile reviewer Sharon Grover said in her review, “Courtney Summers’s powerful story of love, neglect, abuse, and revenge is narrated with irresistible urgency by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner, along with an ensemble of supporting narrators.” Sharon’s praise and Earphones Award were prophetic—and no wonder, as Sharon was one of the founding librarians who helped establish the award in 2008. Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

8 Wintry Kids’ Listens

Stay warm with cozy listening!

Snowy mittens

Snowy mittens

Where I live in New Jersey, kids go to sleep on winter nights hoping to wake up to a SNOW DAY— a snowy world of no school. Whether you love the snow, hate it, or live in a climate that never sees it, I have picked a bunch of cozy winter listens for your kids to snuggle down with this month and embrace the joys of winter.

Bear Snores On

BEAR SNORES ON
by Karma Wilson, read by Karma Wilson
Weston Woods Studios, Ages 4-6
 

As Bear hibernates through the winter, Mouse and an ever increasing group of friends take advantage of the comforts in Bear’s cave by cooking a feast under his sleeping nose. This reading by the author allows young listeners to appreciate the rhyme and beat of the story, and to soak in the humor of the midwinter merriment. Read more…

Sonja Cole
As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

Best Children & Family Listening Audiobooks of 2018

Jacqueline Woodson, Rebel Girls, and More

2018 Best Children & Family Listening Audiobooks

2018 Best Children & Family Listening AudiobooksAudioFile’s 2018 Best Audiobooks list is out, and I am so excited to be talking about the Children’s category. I always love reading everyone’s “Best Of” lists at this time of year because 1) I love to see my favorites get some love, and 2) it introduces me to gems that I missed over the year. I hope this list does both for you as well. And I’m curious, what would be on your Best Children’s Audiobooks of 2018? Please leave a comment below to share your family’s favorites this year so I can discover even more gems! Read more…

Sonja Cole
As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

Podcasting the Best Audiobooks

Robin’s Roundup December 7

HarperPresents Recording

HarperPresents Recording

We’re in the thick of celebrating the 2018 Best Audiobooks and finding new ways to get the word out. In addition to our own podcasts, this week I was a guest at the HarperAudio studios in New York to record a podcast episode of Harper Presents. See above—I’m chatting with host Andrew Kaberline and engineer Nathan Rosborough. Also, I was delighted to be Roxanne Cody’s guest on the Just the Right Book! podcast. Roxanne is a real pioneer and leader in book podcasts, and she’s the founder of RJ Julia Booksellers and JustTheRightBook.com. We have both been talking books/audiobooks for more than 25 years! For followers of Overdrive’s Professional Book Nerds podcast, I also got a chance to talk about our process for selecting the daily choices for Behind the Mic.

In case you missed any of this week’s BEST lists or the narrator interviews with January LaVoy and Fiona Hardingham—here you go.

Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

5 Best Young Adult Audiobooks 2018

2018 Best Young Adult Audiobooks

2018 Best Young Adult AudiobooksWelcome to December and the winter holiday season. One of my favorite things about the end of the year is reading all the best-of lists, especially those that focus on audiobooks. I love adding to my wish list and discovering great books I might have missed.

Get ready to find your next outstanding listen: Today’s Take 5 post is all about AudioFile’s Best Young Adult audiobooks for 2018. All the titles that made our list deserve the spotlight not only for their great stories but also for the fantastic narrators whose performances made the audiobooks unforgettable.

Here, I give you a hint of what each audiobook is all about, but don’t forget to click through to our full reviews. To see all the winners in all the categories, check out AudioFile’s 2018 Best Audiobooks E-Zine.

Now for this year’s best audiobooks for young adults: Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

Fun with Podcasting—with 2018 Best Audiobooks Episodes

Robin’s Roundup November 30

Robin at the mic

After 26 years of reviewing audiobooks, who knew that recommending audiobooks in a podcast would be so much fun! When we started Behind the Mic in September, we had so much to learn—and still do. And as we begin start to settle in, I’m finding it so rewarding to “book talk” our recommendations.

In revealing the 50 Best Audiobooks of 2018 this week, we changed up the format of the Behind the Mic podcasts a bit. Michele Cobb, AudioFile’s publisher, and I are doing episodes on each subject group in the Best 2018, and we’re also chatting with some of the narrators honored for these 2018 accolades. I could keep on writing about them, but really, just click below and listen! Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.