9 Audiobooks for a New School Year

Calm the first-day fears with these audiobooks

Chu's First Day of School

Whether you’re headed to Kindergarten or middle school, starting a new school year can be scary no matter how old you are. This collection of audiobooks about heartwarming school friendships can help calm first-day fears and show your child that there can be a bright side to a new start, too.

Chu's First Day of School
Wemberly Worried
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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.

Inspire Your Child to Explore the Natural World

6 Audiobooks to Get Your Kids Outside and Investigating Nature

6 Audiobooks to Get Your Kids Outside

6 Audiobooks to Get Your Kids Outside

Audiobooks about magic and mystery are wonderful for kids’ imaginations, but the real world is just as exciting. From oceans to animals to vegetable gardens, our planet features some fascinating places to explore. These audiobooks will empower young listeners to discover and ask questions about the natural world around them.

Shark Lady

SHARK LADY: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
by Jess Keating, Read by Jordan Killam. Ages 4-6
As a woman, Eugenie Clark had to prove that she was smart enough to be a scientist and brave enough to research sharks. Underwater sound effects make listeners feel as though they’re diving through the water with Clark as she makes new discoveries in her field. Additional factual details about sharks will fascinate budding marine scientists. 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.

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

Robin’s Roundup May 11

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

Jazz is on my mind. Just a few weeks ago, I attended the tribute to the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters—Todd Barkan, Joanne Brackeen, Pat Metheny, and Dianne Reeves—at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It was such a treat—first listening to podcasts from the NEA, “Art Works,” about each musician, and then getting to be part of the tribute celebration—you can actually watch it in full:

When I got home, I looked up which audiobooks about jazz and jazz musicians we could recommend. Jazz books, and audiobooks, are a bit scarce—perhaps we listen to jazz more than we read about jazz. And in many cases, actual music is not included in audiobook programs. Nevertheless, I’ve put together a list of 15 audiobooks that explore and celebrate Jazz in America.  There are some biographies and memoirs of jazz greats; a few histories on the culture and music of jazz; and, not to be overlooked, engaging jazz stories for young listeners and families.

Let’s start with an iconic audiobook: MILES by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe. For many listeners, the brilliant performance by Dion Graham epitomizes the way that an audio experience can engulf you. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? offers a different approach to a life portrait with Alan Light’s carefully researched biography. Yet Adenrele Ojo’s performance is no less riveting. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: February 16 New Audiobook Reviews

Hello, universe, check out the spectacular listening in the Newbery and Odyssey Awards

Hello, Universe

Hello, UniverseIn the midst of awards season, I’m always looking out for those that specifically celebrate audiobooks, like the Spoken Word Grammy (Carrie Fisher’s THE PRINCESS DIARIST) and The Odyssey Award (THE HATE U GIVE). Also, I love finding the audiobook companion of books that are being celebrated—the American Library Association awards announced this week offer a wealth of great listening. The Newbery Award, for example, given for the year’s “most outstanding contribution to literature,” honored HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly. We’ve talked about and celebrated the audiobook for months—check out narrator Ramon de Ocampo in one of our Behind the Mic videos telling us how swept up he was in this book. It’s thrilling to know that it has received the great Newbery honor. You’ll be hearing more about one of the Newbery Honor titles, Jason Reynolds’s LONG WAY DOWN—we have an exciting interview with Jason about recording his audiobooks for our upcoming print issue. (Look for it April 1.)  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.

Robin’s Roundup: February 2 New Audiobook Reviews

Sound Out Black History

Black Detroit

Each February we’re pleased to find a crop of new audiobooks that chronicle Black History  and celebrate lives of African Americans. Two important history titles in our reviews this week look at the city of Detroit: BLACK DETROIT: A People’s History of Self-Determination by Herb Boyd, which looks at the rich cultural tapestry of the city, and DAWN OF DETROIT: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya Miles, professor of History and  African-American Studies at the University of Michigan. She looks at the  entwined African American and Native American communities in the 18th century. Before jumping into this 10-hour immersion, The New York Times review has some interesting background.  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.

The Sound Stage in the Closet

What It Really Takes to Be an Audiobook Narrator

Xe Sands

As we close out our December celebration of the Best Audiobooks of 2017, I wanted to share some of our winning narrators’ lesser-known skills and challenges.

Xe Sands
Xe Sands, photo by Charles Tarnowski

These are tidbits of information that enhance my admiration for their ability and occasional bravery. Such as not panicking when a spider lands on your hand while you’re trapped in a recording booth voicing a romantic scene. Xe Sands, who read Helen Rappaport’s CAUGHT IN THE REVOLUTION, is officially terrified of eight-legged creatures. Yet professional that she is, she didn’t react until she’d finished her sentence, exited the booth, and closed the door. That’s when she screamed her head off. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: November 3 New Audiobook Reviews

Electrify your listening with baseball or jazz!

Electric October

Electric OctoberBaseball season may be over with the conclusion of the World Series, but it’s not too late to extend the season if you love baseball history. Joe Barrett’s snappy narration of ELECTRIC OCTOBER is perfect for stories from the Golden Age of Baseball. And—enjoy hearing the players’ names: Cookie Lavagetto, Burt Shotton, Snuffy Stirnweiss, and Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish (really!). Names are just not what they used to be!

With holiday travel coming up when many families will be hitting the road, now is a perfect time to plan your “are we there yet?” listening stash.

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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.

Audiobooks and Literacy: Own Voices

Inclusivity in children’s books and audiobooks

The JumbiesThe lack of diversity in children’s books has been noted by many parents, teachers, librarians, and children who seek more new books that reflect experiences that are more inclusive than the traditional reflection of white middle-and upper-class characters and concerns.

Children’s authors, publishers, librarians, and book bloggers have written extensively through social media and editorials about the disconnect between available children’s books and potential audiences whose experiences were under-represented. Two movements, We Need Diverse Books (#WNDB) and #OwnVoices, were born.

While the We Need Diverse Books movement’s goal is to increase inclusivity overall, #OwnVoices specifically focuses on story creators. The message? Telling stories from marginalized experiences requires authenticity, and the storytellers who live outside the empowered culture are the ones whose voices need to be heard.

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Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.