Digital Audiobooks for Free

Amazing audiobooks and content are available online for educational use. Let's explore a few of these and how you can use Reciprocal Teaching strategies to deepen learning. Video content sources will also be shared.

The Research

Valuing research insights, Listenwise includes its own collection of research. You will find research, white papers, and case studies on listening in the classroom.

For example, consider these quick summations:

  • Listening comprehension is a fundamental building block to reading comprehension development. Now there is new research evidence concerning a growing number of children who fail to develop adequate reading comprehension skills primarily due to poor listening comprehension.

  • Ever notice that good stories get better student engagement? This research highlights the power of a meaningful story to specifically impact listening behavior.

  • Why would we want to do this and how does listening affect learning? Our white paper highlights some of the key research in this area as we consider the value of listening skills for our children.

  • Many English learners are not acquiring the level of academic language needed for college and career readiness. Are we underestimating the impact that ongoing work with oral academic language can have?

The Problem

Do you know of one challenging aspect of bringing audio content to children? As librarians and teachers, we can’t record our own using copyrighted materials.

Where can we find amazing audio content for our students and children?

Solutions Abound

There are many solutions available to us now during this time that are not often. Let's take a quick look at them.

Solution #1: Non-Fiction Audio Source - ListenWise

Listenwise is a web-based resource for three to six minute podcast lessons from non-fiction storytellers that include listening comprehension quizzes for your classroom. Once you join, you can get into their library of non-fiction podcasts which are organized in various ways.

In the Teacher Dashboard, you can search the content. Current events are featured, including COVID-19 news and feature stories.

Listenwise Premium makes age-appropriate, non-fiction podcasts in several subjects available. You can listen to ELA, social studies, and science podcasts at a cost. When you first sign up as a teacher, you get a thirty-day free trial of Listenwise Premium which gives you access to a full podcast library and interactive transcripts. You also get listening comprehension quizzes and more. How much more? You get access to upcoming Lexile audio measures for content.

Solution #2 - Audible Stories

We know listening to stories has the same benefit as reading with one’s eyes. Audible Stories is now offering, at no charge, a collection of audio stories.

Stories are organized into a variety of categories, such as the following:

  • Littlest Learners

  • Elementary

  • Tween

  • Teen

  • Literary Classics

  • Folk & Fair Tales for All

Their stories are also available in various languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian and more.

No login is required.

Solution #3 - StoryNory

Storynory offers a variety of stories and tales in video format. It is also available as an iOS or Android app that you can get on your device.

Solution #4 - Free Stories from David Walliams

"All those stuck at home with their kids may be able to relate to ‘The World’s Worst Children’!" as David Walliams revealed that he'd be sharing his stories with the nation.

"I’ll be releasing an audio story every day for the next 30 days absolutely free," he said. "First up is The Terrible Triplets!" (Source: Good Housekeeping)

Stories Available Now

Solution #5 - Loyal Books Free Audiobooks

You can get audio versions of many books in the public domain (such as these Lit2Go) at LoyalBooks. These are older titles you may find of interest.

Solution #6 - Make Your Own

Ever wish you could turn student-created ePub files into narrated audio books? Or make any ePub into an audio book? You can on your Windows 10 computer, by taking advantage of the Freda ebook’s built-in audio reader.

Before we go through the process, let’s take a moment to revisit how you can create an ePub-formatted ebook for free.

Reciprocal Teaching

Enjoying over 30 years of success, reciprocal teaching consistently produces results of .74 growth per year. This effect size, measured by John Hattie’s meta-analyses in Visible Learning, accounts for almost two years growth in one year.

"A deep learning, instructional strategy which aims to foster better reading comprehension and to monitor students who struggle with comprehension. The strategy contains four steps: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting.

It is “reciprocal” in that students and the teacher take turns leading a dialogue about the text in question, asking questions following each of the four steps.

The teacher can model the four steps, then reduce her or his involvement so that students take the lead and are invited to go through the four steps after they read a segment of text. (Source: Visible Learning MetaX)

Best Practices

When introducing RT to students, the following process can be helpful:

  1. Teacher provides direct strategy instruction

    1. Introduces, defines, and models the four strategies (summarizing, predicting, questioning and clarifying)

  2. Students become actively involved

    1. Teacher selects “reader-friendly” texts

    2. Teacher leads students through interactive dialogue, providing specific wording to model

    3. Students participate at their own levels, with teacher guidance and feedback

  3. Teacher gradually relinquishes control to students

    1. Students assume the role of teacher by taking turns leading their peers through the same types of dialogues in small collaborative reading groups discussing more complex texts that they have read independently

    2. Teacher provides support on an as-needed basis only

    3. Students eventually begin to internalize the strategies, so that they can use them independently in their own academic reading