In Berkeley we’re always looking for ways to help students connect to reading and narrative in new and diverse ways. Audiobooks can be a wonderful way to help bring stories to life, to engage struggling readers, and to provide new access points to literature for all kids.
In 2014, the library services department at Berkeley Unified piloted a new audiobook subscription, Tales2Go, which offers thousands of titles at all reading levels and genres. In these last four years, usage of the service has grown – Tales2Go is now the first stop for many of our students and teachers when looking for new (and free) audiobooks.
Although most of our students access Tales2Go at home – logging into their free account on a desktop computer or downloading the app – many teachers, librarians and literacy coaches in the district are also using audiobooks during the school day. This tech tool provides another way for our students to access stories, build their comprehension skills and hear complex vocabulary.
Annelisa Hedgecock, who teaches fifth grade at Washington School said audiobooks were an important tool for engaging reluctant readers and allowing these students to experience and enjoy books they could not read independently. “For many students listening to a book was the most positive literary experience of the year,” she said.
For many students listening to a book was the most positive literary experience of the year.
Listening to audiobooks is a different experience than reading print books, but it’s still reading. The research shows that listening to a book is not “cheating,” but is another way for our students to grow into strong readers. The benefits of audiobooks are wide-ranging. Audiobooks can:
- help readers process auditory information.
- build comprehension, especially for students who struggle with decoding.
- give students access to books above their reading level.
- encourage high-level critical thinking, listening and interpretation.
- help motivate and interest readers, especially those that are reluctant or struggling.
- bring the joy of stories to all students.
Pairing Print and Audiobooks
Pairing a print book with an audiobook is a useful strategy to help readers decode and build fluency. Several of our elementary libraries are making it easier for students to pair books by gathering print books that are also available on Tales2Go. At Emerson Elementary, Library Media Specialist Zoe Williams created Tales2Go book bins to help students find books to read while listening during recess. The Oxford Elementary Library Media Specialist, Karen Sasamoto, created Tales2Go labels to make it easy for her students to find titles that are also available as audiobooks.
Every Berkeley elementary school is taking part in a Mock Newbery Book Club, in which students are asked to read 11 potential Newbery winners and then come together to discuss and eventually vote on the book they believe stands out based on Newbery criteria. Several of the books are available on Tales2Go, which makes it easy for students to access these popular titles if a print copy is unavailable. More importantly, using audiobooks in book clubs can help students who are struggling readers become more engaged and contribute more fully to book club discussions.
We are pleased to see Tales2Go taking off in the classroom and at home. Find more information about getting started with Tales2Go on your school library website. Look for the Tales2Go logo for specifics, or ask your school librarian.
-Eric Silverberg, Teacher Librarian on Special Assignment