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Must-Listen Audiobooks for Teens

AudioFile for The Children’s Book Review

Young adult literature is powerful on audio with themes of identity, activism, and friendships. Listeners can revisit The Hunger Games universe or enter an international cooking competition. Duet performances with two narrators highlight this group, as well as a poet/performer’s first audiobook. Teens can immerse themselves in these excellent listening experiences.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Written by Suzanne Collins

Read by Santino Fontana

Narrator Santino Fontana enters the Hunger Games arena, capturing fans’ attention and hearts with his impactful performance of this prequel to the popular trilogy. This action-packed audiobook reveals how the impoverished, sometimes sentimental teenage Coriolanus Snow morphed into the man who would b`ecome the merciless leader of Panem. Fontana’s consistent characterizations and clear distinctions between dialogue, thoughts, and narrative text guide listeners through this multilayered story of sociopolitical maneuvering and friendship and betrayal, set in a land of unrest. Review »

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Ages 12+ | Length: 16.25 hrs. | Publisher: Scholastic Audiobooks | May 19, 2020

They Went Left

Written by Monica Hesse

Read by Caitlin Davies

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Caitlin Davies reflects the terrible confusion of 18-year-old Zofia, who has recently been liberated from Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Germany. She is haunted by memories of her younger brother, Abek, who may be her only family member still alive. Davies’s narration doesn’t hold back on emotions as the story reveals Zofia’s past hell, broken present, and future hopes. Listeners take a powerful journey at a singular time. The author reads an afterword documenting her process and recommending books she discovered while researching and writing. Review »

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Ages 14+ | Length: 19 hrs. | Publisher: Scholastic Audiobooks | April 08, 2020

More Than Maybe

Written by Erin Hahn

Read by Rachel L. Jacobs and P.J. Ochlan

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrators Rachel L. Jacobs and P.J. Ochlan deliver a swoon-worthy performance of this YA novel. Engaging listeners right off the bat with a stellar British accent is Ochlan as Luke, the son of a famous UK rock star. Luke is a masterful songwriter, yet he struggles with stage fright. Jacobs voices Vada, currently working at a legendary bar and writing a music blog. Vada is laser focused on her dream, writing for ROLLING STONE magazine. When the two are paired for a school project, sparks fly. Review »

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Ages 14+ | Length: 9.75 hrs. | Publisher: Macmillan Audio | July 21, 2020

The Black Flamingo

Written by Dean Atta

Read by Dean Atta

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award; Winner of Stonewall Book Award

Poet Dean Atta draws on his skill as a spoken-word performer to deliver his novel in verse, which features an intimate, empowering portrayal of a Black gay teen’s coming-of-age. He has an understanding family and best friend, but claiming his identity is challenging in a society in which he’s othered for his Blackness, his gender expression, and his sexuality. At university, however, Michael finds a sense of freedom through his poetry and his flamboyant, unabashed drag persona. Review »

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Ages 14+ | Length: 3.75 hrs. | Publisher: Harper Audio | May 26, 2020

Salty, Bitter, Sweet

Written by Mayra Cuevas

Read by Jennifer Jill Araya

Narrator Jennifer Jill Araya’s heartfelt and determined performance will have listeners rooting for aspiring teenaged chef Isa as she joins an intense cooking competition in France. Araya has an ear for the various Spanish, French, and English accents of Isa’s international competitors and supportive family members. The competition is ruthless, but Araya keeps her performance grounded as Isa is drawn into a budding romance while also coming to terms with the loss of her Cuban grandmother, whose love and cooking inspired her. Review »

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Ages 14+ | Length: 10.5 hrs. | Publisher: Blink | March 03, 2020

The Voting Booth

Written by Brandy Colbert

Read by Robin Eller, Cary Hite

The events of this audiobook unfold over the course of a single election day as two Black teens vote for the first time. Robin Eller voices Marva, who is first in line at her polling place. She meets Duke, voiced by Cary Hite, when the poll workers can’t find Duke’s name on the registration list. Making sure his vote gets counted leads them on a long and winding journey during which Marva’s internet-famous cat goes missing and Duke worries about making it to his band’s gig. The duet performance ensures that listeners will fall for Marva and Duke even as they’re falling for each other. Colbert delivers a satisfying blend of character development and timely lessons about voter suppression, grief, and activism. Review »

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Ages 12+ | Length: 6 hrs. | Publisher: Dreamscape | July 07, 2020

The articleMust-Listen Audiobooks for Teens” was curated by AudioFile.  AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience. AudioFile Earphones Awards are given to exceptional audiobooks. To learn more, visit audiofilemagazine.com, Twitter @AudioFileMag, and Facebook @audiofilemagazine.

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AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience. AudioFile Earphones Awards are given to exceptional audiobooks. To learn more, visit audiofilemagazine.com, Twitter @AudioFileMag, and Facebook @audiofilemagazine.

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