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Award-Winning Audiobooks for Young Adults

AudioFile for The Children’s Book Review | May 12, 2020

Young adult literature is powerful on audio. From full-cast productions to sensational author narrations, audiobooks provide a new way of connecting to these works. Nonfiction, graphic memoirs, fantasy, contemporary fiction, and more, offer compelling listening that educates and entertains.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Story by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Read by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi [Intro.]

Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds wrote and now narrates this compelling remix of Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped From the Beginning” for young people. Reynolds is known for writing and speaking directly to young listeners, meeting them where they are, and helping young Black readers see themselves reflected in stories they are excited to engage with. Highly recommended as a work for teens, the audiobook is accessible to anyone interested in learning about how racism and antiracism developed in America. Review »

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Ages 14+ | Length: 4.25 hrs. | Publisher: Hachette Audio | 2020

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope

Story by Patrice Caldwell [Ed.]

Read by York Whitaker and Patrice Caldwell [Intro.]

Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Written by some of the foremost #ownvoices YA authors, this is a stellar anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories, with strong black heroines in tales of “black culture, strength, beauty, bravery, resistance, magic, and hope.” York Whitaker’s fluid narrations showcase the versatility of stories with settings that range from contemporary America to the Caribbean, and that feature diverse and vibrant characters. This outstanding collection embraces a range of racial, gender, and cultural issues, in short stories that will engage listeners of any background. Review »

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Ages 12+ | Length: 10.5 hrs hrs. | Publisher: Dreamscape | 2020

Kent State

Written by Deborah Wiles

Read by Lauren Ezzo, Christopher Gebauer, Christina Delaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David DeVries

Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Fifty years after four young people were shot by the National Guard at Kent State University, Deborah Wiles gives us an honest fictional account of that event, which still has resonance today. An ensemble of voices brings alive the multiple unique perspectives that help to give context to history that can feel far away. This is an audiobook that both teens and parents can enjoy, and a listen that is certain to stimulate discussion if listened to together. Review »

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Ages 12+ | Length: 2 hrs hrs. | Publisher: Scholastic Audiobooks | 2020

Clap When You Land

Written by Elizabeth Acevedo

Read by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte

Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Elizabeth Acevedo, the author and narrator of the multi-award winning THE POET X, co-narrates this highly anticipated audiobook. Acevedo returns to her novel in free verse format and is joined by Melania-Luisa Marte in an alternating dialogue between two sisters, neither of whom knows the other exists until their father’s death in a plane crash. These two voices create a beautiful duet of the girls’ raw and lingering grief, forgiveness of their beloved and imperfect father, and nascent sisterhood. Fans of Acevedo, as well those new to her work, will not be disappointed. Review »

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Ages 14+ | Length: 5.5 hrs hrs. | Publisher: Harper Audio | 2020

Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction

Written by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Read by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jeanne Birdsall, Richard Ferrone, Jenna Lamia, and a Full Cast

Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award / Odyssey Award / Audie Awards / National Book Award Finalist

The 2020 Odyssey Award for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults went to this graphic memoir. When he was 3, Krosoczka’s grandparents removed him from his heroin-addicted mother’s custody and raised him in their noisy, loving home, encouraging his artistic talent. Hearing the audio’s music, sound effects, and affecting performances, listeners feel like they are at the dinner table with him and his hard-drinking, foul-mouthed grandparents in Worcester, Massachusetts. A  brilliant aspect of this audio adaptation is the casting—with Krosoczka taking the main narrative and family members and friends voicing their own parts. Three professional narrators, Jeanne Birdsall, Jenna Lamia, and Richard Ferrone, assure a polished production, using their acting talents to enhance this deeply personal and authentic listening experience. Review »

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Ages 12+ | Length: 2.75 hrs hrs. | Publisher: Scholastic Audiobooks | 2018

For more YA listening, AudioFile’s annual SYNC Audiobooks for Teens program gives away two free downloads each week all summer. It’s in full swing; find out more at audiobooksync.com.

The article Award-Winning Audiobooks for Young Adults 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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The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by a guest author.

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