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Use: Audio Use

I love checking out the new music available on Freegal.
I'm half way through the alphabet listening to Sue Grafton's A-Z murder mystery audiobooks.
I enjoy listening to radio dramas while I walk for exercise.
Listening to podcasts is a fun way to learn about science.

Audio use in libraries has grown tremendously with the introduction of digital audiobooks, podcasts, and streaming music. Let's explore how people are using audio sources from their libraries.

Audio Use in Public Library Programs

Audiobooks, podcasts, and music are all popular in public libraries.

Read Burkey, Mary (January 1-15, 2010). Audiobook book clubs. The Booklist, 106(9/10), 109. Available through IUPUI.

Read Burkey, Mary & Grover, Sharon (2014). How Public Libraries Can Promote Learning with Audiobooks. APA. Available through IUPUI.

Some people want the fun of an audiobook club without actually participating.

Check out Slate's Audio Book Club for a fun experience.


Thomas Walken writes a column for AudioFile where he explores audiobooks related to a wide range of learning experiences. His articles are useful in listening advisory and also understanding the interests and needs of audiobook listeners.

Read at least four of the following articles. Then, think about how nonfiction listening differs from experiencing an fiction audiobook.

Walken, Thomas (August 1, 2016). Learning by ear: making space to have a life. AudioFile, 56-57. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (April 1, 2016). Learning by ear: who said you have to be a perfect parent? AudioFile, 62-63. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (February 1, 2016). Learning by ear: putting ideas to work in the real world. AudioFile, 52-53. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (December 1, 2015). Learning by ear: the nuance of social issues. AudioFile, 52-53. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (October 1, 2015). Learning by ear: the power of the narrator’s story. AudioFile, 52-53. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (August 1, 2015). Learning by ear: teachers, coaches, and narrators. AudioFile, 50-51. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (April 1, 2015). Learning by ear: medium, message, and messenger. AudioFile, 60-61. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (February 1, 2015). Learning by ear: being all-in at work. AudioFile, 56-57. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (December 1, 2014). Learning by ear: listening to become a better partner. AudioFile, 54-55. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (October 1, 2014). Learning by ear: personal growth and compassionate capitalism. AudioFile, 54-55. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (August 1, 2014). Learning by ear: growing in the real world, one step at a time. AudioFile, 52-53. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (June 1, 2014). Learning by ear: to think or not to think. AudioFile, 48-49. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (April 1, 2014). Learning by ear: the toughest job in the world. AudioFile, 64-65. Available through IUPUI.
Walken, Thomas (February 1, 2014). Learning by ear: staying on top of your business. AudioFile, 54-55. Available through IUPUI.

Summer Audiobook Reading Programs

syncThe Sync: Audiobooks for Teens program sponsored by AudioFile and OverDrive provides two, free audiobook downloads per week during the summer program. In 2017, the program will celebrated it’s eighth year.

The program gives away two free audiobook downloads every week during the summer. Teens, librarians, club leaders, and educators can sign up for the program.

The program includes weekly thematic pairings of award-winning young adult titles with classics. The program focuses on access to fine books and performances along with listening skills required for literacy. The 2016 program included titles by M.T. Anderson, David Levithan, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Michael Pollan, and Andrew Smith.

readTry It!
Go to the Sync: Audiobooks for Teens program. Also, explore the SYNC Toolkit that provides promotional materials.

Think about ways this program could be promoted in a library setting. Or, how the idea could be adapted for a similar program.

Music and the Public Library

Many libraries have strong music programs. Notice how King County Public Library provides blog postings featuring music.

Audio Use in School and Academic Library Programs

Websites such as Librivox and Archives have extensive collections of audio materials for learning. Check out the staff picks for ideas. Provide students with direct links resources of interest. In the case of public domain materials, you can even download them for access from your own server or on students devices such as iPads and smartphones. While some students may read the book The Wind in the Willows, others may prefer to download and listen to the audience version from LibriVox.

Look for materials that would benefit from the audio format. Some students have difficulty reading Shakespeare. Try listening to The Tragedy of Macbeth. Poetry is a good choice such as Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

In a unit on war, you might use audio of the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae from LibriVox. Then, ask students to select historical photographs that visual the poem. These could be combined into an interesting multimedia project.

Many classroom projects benefit from audio enhancements.

Audio Storytelling. Involve students in telling original stories. These student projects focus on feature writing and audio editing.

Oral History. Create an oral history project.

Musical Scores. Ask students to create the music for a short story or novel.

Consider using audio recordings as the focal point in your project. An increasing number of books are coming with CDs. For instance, the John Denver songs are part of a new series of children's books including Take Me Home, County Road, Sunshine on My Shoulders, Grandma's Feather Bed, and Ancient Rhymes. Also look for singers and songwriters that focus on academic topics such as history, science, or literature.

Biography Project. Listen to portions of Sacagawea and When the Land Belonged to God by Jack Gladstone. They tell the stories of two people. Whose story will you tell in words, pictures, and music?

Geology and Geography Project. Listen to a portion of Tappin' the Earth's Backbone by Jack Gladstone. It speaks passionately about our connection to the earth. Write your own story about your feelings about a landform or special place.

History Project. Listen to a portion of Lewis and Clark's Traveling Magical Show by Jack Gladstone. Use words, pictures, and music to tell your own story of a significant historical event. Be sure to tell the story from all perspectives.

How To Project. Listen to a DIY Audio Project. Think about the projects you could do related to cooking, gardening, or crafts.

Legends Project. Listen to a portion of Napi Legend by Jack Gladstone. Read the legends and lore about animals. What animals would you like to be? What special trait does this animal have? Tell the story of becoming this animal.

Radio Project. It's easy to create a streaming radio station.

Sound Tools in Learning

From narrated stories to music, learners can use sound in many different ways.

Learner Produced

Subject Areas

An increasing number of audio programs are available in the audio format.

Fine Arts

Foreign Language

Performing Arts


Social Sciences

Consider ways that online music resources could be woven across the curriculum. For instance, Smithsonian Folkways has lots of cultural connections.

Learners, Multiple Intelligences, and Digital Sound

Use of sound software matches well with Howard Gardner's verbal/linguistic as well as the musical/rhythmic intelligence. These "music smart" people learn best through sounds including listening and making sounds such as songs, rhythms, patterns, and other types of auditory expression. They are able to use inductive and deductive reasoning and identify relationships in data. Provide students with audio and video recorders to capture their musical expressions. Ask them to choose appropriate music to go with a slide show, artwork, or poem. Create and record hand-made instruments. Add other intelligences such as drawing patterns of music or writing about music and sounds.

Those people with a musical strength like to choose and compose music for multimedia presentations. They like to see and hear patterns, so they may be good at sequencing a presentation. They are good listeners, so ask them to look for things that might be missing after listening to audio.

Begin with Internet Archive: Audio. Explore the wide range of sounds available through their site including thousands of open source audio. What do you have to contribute? What could your students contribute?

Audiobook Use in School and Academic Library Programs

case for infographicEncourage students to become better listeners and readers through audiobooks. Strategies for using audiobooks with children and young adults vary.

Some educators encourage their students to read the physical book along with the audiobook during the first reading. This familiarizes students with the story. During subsequent readings, students concentrate on the words.

Some learning is formal, while other is informal. Some parents encourage reading through modeling. They provide audiobooks in the car and encourage listening for relaxation.

Watch Students React to Audiobooks. Reflect on the reactions of youth to audiobooks.
Watch Enriching the Learning Experience with Audiobooks from the Audio Publishers Association.
Watch Is Listening to Audiobooks Cheating? on YouTube.

Audiobooks in the Curriculum

Audiobooks can motivate students to read. They allow children and young adults to enjoy a book at their interest level that might be above their reading level such as Charlotte’s Web or The Incredible Journey. In addition, children who read slowly can still participate in class activities.

For very young children and people learning English as a second language, audiobooks provide a way to learn the patterns of language, focus on objects, and learn expressions. They are also good examples of fluent reading for children and young adults.

Audiobooks can take the "read aloud" burden off the teacher and parent. For example, if you have a hard time getting through Where the Red Fern Grows without crying, let Richard Thomas read it aloud to the class.


Read the infographic The Case for Making Audiobooks Part of the Curriculum.
Read the infographic Audio Books in Your Classroom.

readTry It!
Explore Books on Tape, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Notice their connections to the Common Core.

The Listening-Reading Connection

Listening to audiobooks has been links to raising reading scores. Click the Infographic below to view the entire infographic.

raise scores

Read at least four of the following articles:
Brady-Myerov, Monica (2015). Time to listen. Language Magazine.
Brock, Rose (2014). Why Listen? Using audiobooks to support literacy. Available through IUPUI.
Burkey, Mary (April 28, 2016). New research shows audiobooks have powerful impact on literacy development. The Booklist Reader.
Burkey, Mary (2013). Turned on to literature: audiobooks and the gifted student. Available through IUPUI.
Burkey, Mary (January 1-15, 2013). Voices in my head: Audiobooks and the Common Core. The Booklist, 109(9/10), 126. Available through IUPUI.
Cahill, Maria & Richey, Jennifer (2014). Do You Hear What I Hear? Questioning the Legitimacy of Audiobooks as ‘Reading’ Material. IFLA 2014. Available through IUPUI.
Dembling, Sophia (2011). Audio books vs. book books: which does the brain prefer? Real World Research.
Henderson, Darwin L.; Dales, Brenda & Young, Teresa (March 1, 2106). These books are not quiet: bebop, swing, and soul: jazz in children’s books. Children & Libraries, 20-25. Available through IUPUI.
Hudson, Hannah (2015). 10 ways to use audiobooks in the classroom. WeAreTeachers.
Larson, Lotta C. (September 1, 2015). E-books and audiobooks: extending the digital reading experience. Reading Teacher, 69(2), 169-177. Available through IUPUI.
Lesesne, Teri (Spring 2013). Reading with our ears: an odyssey for all. Young Adult Library Services, 11(3), 30-32. Available through IUPUI.
Macpherson, Erin (2012). 5 ways to use audiobooks to help struggling readers. WeAreTeachers.
Martin, Jamie (2016). Will listening to audiobooks make it harder for my third graders to learn to read? Understood.org.
Mcintory, Rebecca (April 24, 2015). Why ‘reading’ audiobooks isn’t a shortcut: listening vs. reading, and your brain. KUT.
Nolan, Liz (April 2011). Why listening is good for all kids - especially in the digital age. AudioFile. Available through IUPUI.
Ripp, Pernille (February 2016). Why audiobooks in the classroom? Technology & Learning, 36(7), 19. Available through IUPUI.
Weil, William (April 29, 2016). The case for making audiobooks part of the curriculumm. Getting Smart.
Whittingham, Jeff; Huffman, Stephanie; Christensen, Rob; & McAllister, Tracy (2013). Use of audiobooks in a school library and positive effects of struggling readers’ participation in a library-sponsored audiobook club. School Library Research, 16. Available through IUPUI.
Wilde, Susie (April 2007). Listen! It’s good for kids. AudioFile. Available through IUPUI.

Audiobooks and Literacy

Click the How Audio Promotes Literacy infographic below (or download the PDF) to see then entire infographic.

how audio

Francisca Goldsmith writes the Audiobooks and Literacy column for AudioFile. Her short articles focus on a wide range of topics related to learning, literacy, and audiobooks for all audiences.

Read at least two article by Francisca Goldsmith about audiobooks and literacy.

Goldsmith, Francisca (April 1, 2016). Advice vs. exploration. AudioFile, 68. Available through IUPUI.
Goldsmith, Francisca (February 1, 2016). What we talk about when we talk about reading books. AudioFile, 68-69. Available through IUPUI.
Goldsmith, Francisca (December 1, 2015). Civic engagement through audiobook access. AudioFile, 68. Available through IUPUI.
Goldsmith, Francisca (October 1, 2015). Supporting young listeners’ developmental stages. AudioFile, 68. Available through IUPUI.
Goldsmith, Francisca (August 1, 2015). How listening builds implicit literacy skills. AudioFile, 68. Available through IUPUI.
Goldsmith, Francisca (June 1, 2015). Promoting listening literacy in your community. AudioFile, 68. Available through IUPUI.
Goldsmith, Francisca (April 1, 2015). Audiobooks and multi-modal learning. AudioFile, 68. Available through IUPUI.
Goldsmith, Francisca (2009). Using audiobooks with English Language Learners. Available through IUPUI.

readTry It!
Explore the Sound Learning website for lots of ideas.

readTry It!
Choose a genre of literature that you enjoy and identify three audiobooks you'd like to read. Use some of the references in the article to gather ideas.

Podcast Use in School and Academic Library Programs

From poetry readings to language learning, there are many possibilities for audio blogging and podcasting in education and libraries.

Read at least one of the following articles:
Flanagan, Linda (March 11, 2015). What teens are learning from ‘Serial” and other podcasts? MindShift.
Godsey, Michael (March 17, 2016). The value of podcasts in class. The Atlantic.
Hayes, Stephanie (March 21, 2015). Where are all the kidcasts? The Atlantic.
TeachThought (January 22, 2013). 51 education podcasts for the 21st century teacher. TeachThought.

These are two articles we wrote a decade ago. Many of the links are dead, but the teaching and learning ideas are still useful.
Lamb, Annette & Johnson, Larry (2006). Turn up the music with digital technologies. Teacher Librarian, 34(2), 55-69. Available through IUPUI.
Lamb, Annette, & Johnson, Larry (2007). Podcasting in the School Library, Part 1: Integrating Podcasts and Vodcasts into Teaching and Learning. Teacher Librarian, 34(3), 54-7. Available through IUPUI.
Lamb, Annette, & Johnson, Larry (2007). Part 2: Creating Powerful Podcasts with Your Student. Teacher Librarian, 34(4), 61-64. Available through IUPUI.

readTry It!
Explore Apple's iTunes U. Their goal is "to advance teaching, learning, and research through innovation, and engage and empower students." The system delivers educational content free through iTunes.

Radio Use in School and Academic Library Programs

Public radio has lots of applications in teaching and learning. From using NPR podcasts to streaming international programs.

readTry It!
Browse ListenWise. It's a website that helps librarians and educators access podcasts and public radio programs.
Think about how these resources could be woven into teaching and learning

Read Listen Up! 5 reasons to use public radio in the classroom. EdSurge.


Maybee, Clarence; Doan, Tomalley; & Flierl, Michael (2016). Information literacy in the active learning classroom. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, in process.

Myers, Amanda & Ishimura, Yusuke (2016). Finding sound and score: a music library skills module for undergraduate students. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42, 215-221. Available through IUPUI.

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