Making Time for Summer Reading, or Why Audiobooks Are Awesome!

“But I don’t have time to read!  I have cello lessons, concert choir, soccer practice, volunteering at the hospital, and family obligations.  Plus, I go to camp for a month.”  The refrain rings across the room, from student to student, as they lament the many reasons they won’t be able to read over the summer.  The litany of activities changes from one student to the next, but all of my awesome students are super busy all of the time. I’m so proud of everything they do, but I also want them to take the time to read.  We all know why reading is important, but I want them to have some time to relax and just lose themselves in another, pressure-free world.

When my students make excuses for not reading, I tell them there’s a foolproof way to make time for reading in their day.  They are usually astounded when I tell them that I recommend audiobooks.

“But that’s not reading!” they cry.  Usually they tell me that past teachers, or their parents, once told them that listening to books doesn’t count as reading.  I list the many, many reasons that audiobooks count as real reading and we discuss the benefits of audiobooks.  For my busy students, audiobooks can provide an easy way to get som extra reading done when they are driving to a swim meet, sitting in the car, or training for cross country.

Many libraries allow patrons to borrow audiobooks and many of those books can be downloaded onto ipods or smartphones.  But for teens, SYNC offers an amazing (FREE!) deal over the summer.  Every week, beginning in June, they will offer two free book downloads.  Each week, they offer a classic novel and a current YA novel, connected by theme.  I plan to link to the downloads each week via my Facebook page, which may of my students will follow even during the summer months.  Be sure to tell your students, too!

Download links will be posted The featured titles are listed below:

June 14-20:The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (Scholastic Audiobooks) and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, adapt. by Frank Galati (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 21- 27:Irises by Francisco X. Stork (Listening Library) and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Tantor Media)

June 28-July 4:The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (Listening Library) and Tales from the Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang (Naxos Audio)

July 5-11: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (AudioGo) and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (AudioGo)

July 12-18:Guys Read: Funny Business by Jon Scieszka (Harper Audio) and The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories by Mark Twain (Recorded Books)

July 19-25:Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter (Oasis Audio) and Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare (AudioGo)

July 26-Aug. 1:Pinned by Alfred C. Martino (Listen & Live Audio); and a title to be announced (Brilliance Audio)

Aug. 2-8:Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Hachette Audio) and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Blackstone Audio)

Aug. 9-15:Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, (Harper Audio) and Dead Men Kill by L. Ron Hubbard (Galaxy Press)

Aug. 16-22:The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (Bolinda Audio) and The Call of the Wild by Jack London(Naxos Audio)

*list courtesy of SYNC


How awesome is that list?  I plan to download a few books myself and may hold onto them until later in the school year.  Once you download the books, you can play them at any time.  A few of my former sophomores know that there are a few books on the list that they may read during junior year, so they plan to download them over the summer.  That way, they can listen to the audiobooks during the school year, either a review or supplement to the text reading.

Are you an audiobook listener?  Do you have any recommendations? Or, do your students listen to audiobooks?