Build Your Teen’s Audiobook Shelf with AudiobookSYNC

Build Your Teen’s Audiobook Shelf with AudiobookSYNC

Now in its twelfth year, AudioFile Magazine’s AudiobookSYNC program returns at the end of April through the beginning of August. With no strings attached, this event is available free and worldwide to individuals 13 and up, particularly focusing on teens. Each week during the program, a pair of audiobooks is available for download on the SYNC website. Unlike either commercial sales or library lending, these audiobooks are free to keep (for about 100 years) once downloaded. They are from a variety of publishers, feature current titles, stellar narrations, and a wide range of listening lengths and topics to reach the enormous diversity of interests listeners (and potential listeners) have.

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Originally developed to promote teen literacy during traditional North American summer vacation time, SYNC now supports a broad array of teen needs and interests. Beyond the content of the promoted titles, the themes, cultural authenticity, performance styles, and genre types receive careful attention by program slate developers. Among the 28 available audiobooks during the 2021 season, nearly half are written and recorded by #ownvoices, reflecting roots in the African diaspora, Asia, and Latinx and Muslim North America, as well as fantasy, refugee accounts, thrillers in short story as well as novel format, and audio dramas. Some are performed by single narrators who create individual tones and timbres for many characters, others feature a pair of narrators reflecting dual perspectives the author crafted, full cast performances, and a few read by skillful authors who have the acting ability to share their own books aloud. Alongside content then, these audiobooks provide performance, authentic voice, and the opportunity to discover different literary and acting styles.

Besides content and performance, the program also gives teens the opportunity to create their own personally curated collections. There is no pressure to return any of these audiobooks and some listeners may find they want to enjoy multiple listenings across time. This is part of the joy and power of having one’s own collection: the works within it are in some way or another personally touching and thus valuable. SYNC gives many teens their first opportunity to build such a personal collection.

For teachers, librarians, family members, and others new to SYNC, the best place to find the details is on the SYNC website. There’s a video here that can provide additional tips about access and purpose. The season starts April 29 and you can see what will be featured during that first week as well as what to expect in the way of free audiobook availability across the following 14 weeks. Delivered on the Sora app by OverDrive, the SYNC program is available only to individuals. Participants do not need to be enrolled in any school or other institution and the Sora app can be downloaded and used on any device that connects to the internet, including smartphones, Chromebooks, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers. Tune in, download, and build your 2021 SYNC collection for yearlong — and years-long — listening.