Building Your Tween’s World One Audiobook at a Time
Whether it’s via books, movies, or small screen media consumption, tweens take an interest in sampling a variety of genres. Fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, adventure, and even horror can attract some initial curiosity that often leads to delving deeper and gaining a personal taste for tales in a similar vein. There are plenty of age-appropriate, professionally performed audiobooks that offer kids 10–12 the opportunity to taste such possibilities.
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Audiobooks provide both the complexity of novels and the interpretive delights of fine acting. While picture books and beginning chapter books contain stories from many of different genres, tweens are ready for more extended world building. Classics as well as new titles can be attractive, and both are in abundance in a wide variety of genres for their listening interests.
Keep in mind that tweens, like younger kids, can appreciate listening to books written at least two years ahead of their capacity to read with their eyes. That’s another reason genre classics are wonderful to introduce in audio format at this age. Here are some great genre audiobooks for your tween to sample, or to dig straight in to feed that hunger that habitual readers of this age have developed.
Jack London’s famous Klondike stories, WHITE FANG and THE CALL OF THE WILD read by John Lee, offer tweens who love animals, the outdoors, and dreaming about exploring the unexplored a great opportunity to do all three. Lee reads these two short novels as though they are legends, which, indeed, they have become.
Teenaged brothers Shreyas and Ayur Pulle might inspire tweens who use their creativity to tweak and improve upon what their peers take for granted as what’s assigned to do. These British youth had been studying the classic epic RAMAYANA at school and decided to retell it in a more tween-friendly way — and then they recorded it professionally as an audiobook that adds another content-appropriate and tween-welcoming layer.
Audiobooks that make fine use of classics from a variety of cultures also pique the interests of tweens. A fine author and narrator duo for kids who have a taste for almost-horror is Tracey Baptiste with Robin Miles reading her novel THE JUMBIES. Tweens who have determined that series are their thing will be pleased to find the follow up, THE RISE OF THE JUMBIES, continues with Robin Miles again reading.
There are literally hundreds of contemporary tween books available in excellent audio format, of course. They range from the fantasies of Rick Riordan’s series through stand-alone novels written in an array of genres by Linda Sue Park. New authors abound, too, including tween-friendly Ronald L. Smith, whose BLACK PANTHER origin story is performed by Dion Graham; graphic novelist (yes, in audio!) Mariko Tamaki’s LUMBERJANES, performed by Amanda Leigh Cobb; and Celia C. Perez’s THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK, read by veteran Latinx narrator Trini Alvarado, which speaks to that tween super problem of needing to fit in.
If you were 11 again and not yet settled into your adult reading habits, which genres would you explore? Why not try one of those alternative listens now? There’s no rule that what you like reading with your eyes must match what you read with your ears.