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The following 2019 titles provide youth with superlative listening experiences across the age and interest spectrum.
The 5 O’Clock Band. By Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Read by Dion Graham. 1hr. Live Oak, CD, $12.95 (9781430143918). Gr. 1–4.
An energetic brass band and Graham’s robust voice match the energy of this musical neighborhood adventure.
Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry. By Neil deGrasse Tyson and Gregory Mone. Read by Levar Burton. 3.5hr. Blackstone, CD, $19.95 (9781982591465). Gr. 5–8.
Burton is a perfect match for Tyson’s text, narrating with infectious curiosity, wonder, and an obvious love of sharing knowledge.
Aurora Rising. By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Read by a full cast. 14hr. Listening Library, CD, $70 (9781524780784). Gr. 9–12.
An array of narrators voice the crew members, including a sassy computer, in this space odyssey, adding an exciting layer to this superb novel.
The Bridge Home. By Padma Venkatraman. Read by the author. 4.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $38 (9781984845092). Gr. 5–7.
Author/narrator Venkatraman’s Indian accents add to the elegantly written portrayal of a slum in Chennai, India, transporting the listener into the story.
A Good Kind of Trouble. By Lisa Moore Ramée. Read by Imani Parks. 7hr. Harper, DD, $20.99 (9780062939241). Gr. 5–8.
Parks brings an emotional immediacy and infuses fast-paced exchanges with energy. Her voice is fierce during Shayla’s final, tense showdown confronting racism.
Hey, Kiddo. By Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Read by a full cast. 3hr. Scholastic, DD, $54.99 (9781987162127). Gr. 8–12.
Krosoczka transformed his graphic memoir into a live show for a cast of 10 before creating this robust full-cast family reunion.
Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat, 1–2. By Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth. Read by Oliver Wyman and Vikas Adam. 7hr. Listening Library, CD, $60 (9781984845481). Gr. 2–5.
The alien cat’s outsized personality and the everyday-kid tones of his owner become perfect foils to each other in alternating narration.
Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks. By Jason Reynolds. Read by a full cast. 4hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $19.99 (9781508267140). Gr. 5–8.
Ten narrators reflect the bravado and backgrounds of the protagonists, expressing their vulnerability and surprising grit as they face everyday problems.
Lovely War. By Julie Berry. Read by a full cast. 3hr. Listening Library, DD, $75 (9781984838261). Gr. 9–12.
A dream team of narrators gives voice to this unique book about mythology, love, and war. An audio production for the ages.
The Next Great Paulie Fink. By Ali Benjamin. Read by a full cast. 7hr. Hachette, CD, $25 (9781549148828). Gr. 3–7.
Four narrators distinguish among characters in the large cast as texts ding, Shakespearean insults are hilariously emphatic, and laughter feels genuine.
The Phantom Tollbooth. By Norton Juster. Read by Rainn Wilson and the author. 4.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $25 (9781984887016). Gr. 4–7.
The sterling Wilson brings joy to his telling of this episodic tale of strange lands infused with wordplay galore.
Sal & Gabi Break the Universe. By Carlos Hernandez. Read by Anthony Rey Perez. 9.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $65 (9781984845801). Gr. 4–7.
From Gabi’s focus to Sal’s sarcasm, Perez strikes a perfect balance—even persuasively voicing multiple, distinct A.I. personalities!
Shout. By Laurie Halse Anderson. Read by the author. 3.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $30 (9781984843593). Gr. 9–12.
This memoir in verse is meant to be heard—spoken proudly by the author—out loud, and at full volume. (Top of the List Winner—Youth Audio)
Tristan Strong Punches A Hole In The Sky. By Kwame Mbalia. Read by Amir Abdullah. 11hr. Listening Library, CD, $55 (9780593167236). Gr. 4–8.
Abdullah punches out words like he’s punching a boxing bag, then softens with emotion, then booms as Tristan grows in his storytelling prowess.
We Set the Dark on Fire. By Tehlor Kay Mejia. Read by Kyla Garcia. 10hr. Harper, DD, $26.99 (9780062907943). Gr. 9–12.
Garcia creates a rhythm to her performance, emphasizing the book’s back-and-forth conflicts between the haves and have-nots.
We’re Not from Here. By Geoff Rodkey. Read by Dani Martineck. 7hr. Listening Library, CD, $50 (9781984832894). Gr. 5–8.
Martineck’s ability to create voices for the multitude of characters of all genders and species (most of them aliens) is an amazing feat.
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