Gift Idea: Audio Books and Podcasts

We are often asked if audio books “count” as reading. The answer is a resounding Y-E-S! Audio books are real books. They offer wonderful benefits to listeners, including

  • help with visualization and comprehension;
  • model reading with emotion;
  • provide read-aloud time (great when Mom and Dad may not have lots of time); and
  • introduce new kinds of books to readers.

An audio version of a book can also make higher-level reading levels accessible to young readers. Just because you may not be ready for the print text of Harry Potter (for example) doesn’t mean that you can’t understand or enjoy J.K. Rowling’s series.

These are just a few reasons to consider audio. Reading Rockets has a more robust list of benefits on its website.

If you like the idea of audiobooks but aren’t sure what your reader will like – or what their parents might approve – then consider an Audible gift membership.

Our gift ideas are book-centric, but another audio option you might consider is a podcast subscription.  Here are three sources we use for finding find family- and kid-friendly podcasts.

What to pair with an audiobook? Skip the earbuds. Package the audio with make-at-home popcorn or basket of snacks everyone can enjoy while listening. If the book or podcast has a theme, use that as the inspiration for your complementary item.

animal folktale amy friedmanTell Me a Story: Animal Magic by Amy Friedman
| ages: 3 to 10 |

With seven stories from around the world, young readers get a global tour of the folktale genre not just by words, but sounds, as well. There are stories from Africa, China, Australia, East India, Canada, North America and Central America.

These are fun stories to listen to. The storytellers use lots of voices and the music complements what’s going on. Our daughter (now a teen) loves these CDs. That first year we got them (when she was 4), she listened to them all the time … now it is a once or twice-a-year selection. She loves the stories and the lessons they provide.

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Local Indie Bookstore

Other Audiobooks in the series: Timeless Folktales from Around the World (Tell Me a Story 1) and  Women of Wonder (Tell Me a Story 3)

brown girl dreaming jacqueline woodsonbrown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
| ages 10 and Up |

In this memoir, Jacqueline Woodson shares her journey of growing up as an African-American girl in the 1960s and 1970s. Through verse poetry, readers follow her life from her childhood to her young teen years; and from encountering segregation to discovering her life’s passion.

Woodson spent most of her childhood in the South and later moved to Brooklyn, and her words illustrate two very contrasting places. There is a central idea of the importance of family, with most poems surrounding this concept. Woodson’s family is very important to her and you can see the beautiful bond they have in the novel. As she grew older, Woodson started developing a love for words and writing.

Teen reader (13): This book is very meaningful and delightful. It was intriguing to get a new point of view on how the events of the fight for equality affected Woodson because history isn’t usually written from a child’s perspective. I found it extremely inspirational to read about the sacrifices her grandparents made to provide a better life for their grandchildren. I suggest listening to the audio book because her poems, when spoken aloud, are somehow even more stunning.

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Local Indie Bookstore

illuminae audio bookIlluminae The Illuminae Files, Book 1
| Ages: 14 and Up |

Welcome to the year 2575. No matter what millennia you live in, some things don’t change. For Kady, breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d ever done. But some things do: if they want to survive, Kady and Ezra need to board an evacuation ship to escape the interplanetary war.

They soon learn the external enemy is only part of the problem. A continually-mutating plague is killing everyone on the ship, and it may be as a result of the fleet’s own AI (artificial intelligence). To figure out what’s going on, Kady tries to hack into the system only to discover that in doing so, she is putting her life – and the lives of the remaining passengers at risk.

Teen reviewer (16): Illuminae is a great thriller. Listening to the Audiobook was a surreal experience, and I was fully immersed in the adventure. It has a full cast, with realistic sound effects to go with the dialogues. Not only can you hear things like the explosions, but you also can sense the emotions of the characters in their voices.

I’ve seen the print version, and it has a unique format. There are full-page illustrations and maps to help guide you. Both formats have much to offer. This is definitely for teenagers, and I would buy it for a SciFi lover. It has many beautiful illustrations and it is a book I want to reread.

Read the Review | Order at | Shop Your Indie Bookstore

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: The “Order at” link goes to When you buy through, Amazon donates to the Reading Tub. As a nonprofit, the Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship with for fundraising purposes. All proceeds go to our mission.

The Reading Tub also has an affiliate relationship with When you purchase through “Shop at your local Indie Bookstore,” the Reading Tub can earn donations for our literacy mission.