Middle and high school students read more with access to free audiobooks from Audible
Posted on 01/23/2020
Julia Murphy, a ninth-grader at East Hamilton School, using the Audible app.

Audible has selected Hamilton County Schools for participation in their Student Technology Program that provides free audiobooks for students in grades 8 through 12. Audible, the world’s largest producer and distributor of audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment, provides the students and their English language arts teachers, with an Audible account providing free access to a collection of 80 titles commonly used in grades 8-12. The Audible program provides Hamilton County Schools with 18,000 free subscriptions during the 2019-2020 school year and is available to students in the Missionary Ridge Learning Community. Students and staff have activated over 6,000 Audible accounts at the half-way point in the school year.

“Through this offering from Audible, I believe it possible to inspire new reading in ways we have never been able to support before,” said Larrie Reynolds, executive director of the Missionary Ridge Learning Community. “This effort is to support our expectation in Missionary Ridge that all students read at least ten books per school year. The new Audible feature will not only offer better access to reading through listening to books but also specific titles that are in our curriculum for each grade.”

Many of the free titles available in the program also provide captions for readers, a feature enabling readers to follow along with computer-generated text as they listen to the audio performance. Students can click on words to see definitions, Wikipedia entries, and access translations into over twenty languages to help improve reading comprehension. Students will be able to access their accounts in school or at home on their smartphones. In addition to the school collection, all participants will receive 12 free credits, which they can use to download 12 titles from the Audible catalog of over 450,000 titles. The additional free books will provide students with the opportunity to pursue topics and books of interest, beyond classroom required reading. The Audible accounts provide safeguards to minimize the possibility that objectionable material will fall into the hands of students. Audible equips all accounts for Hamilton County Schools with a "safe filter," which prevents mature content from being listed in search results. Also, all students using the Audible program are required to have a parental permission slip signed to participate and download books.

“I like to both listen to the book and read along while using the Audible app,” said Julia Murphy, a ninth-grader at East Hamilton School. “The app helps me to analyze better the book we are reading for class.”

School districts across the states of Alaska, South Carolina, Mississippi, and North Dakota are participating in the Audible program this school year. In addition to Hamilton County, other single school districts participating in the Audible program include Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; Miami-Dade and Broward County, in Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Pasadena, California; Helena, Montana; and Newark and Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Through access to the free Audible accounts, students:

Build content knowledge - Listening while reading content-rich texts, especially texts a student may struggle to read without audio assistance, can greatly expand a student’s knowledge-base and equip students with the tools to tackle complex texts independently.

Build vocabulary and word recognition - Whether hearing a word read fluently in context or utilizing tools to immediately see a definition while reading, audio, and captions technologies match the way many people learn new words.

Improve fluency - From using audio to engage with a text multiple times, to hearing a book read fluently, the variety of uses of audio and audio with captions can positively influence the multiple variables involved in improving fluency

Improve listening comprehension - The combination of skills increases the likelihood of independent listening comprehension, which can lead to improved reading comprehension.

“This program provides access to books and makes the notion of reading more convenient for our kids, added Dr. Reynolds. “Most of our kids are simply not reading enough, and this effort will eliminate the barrier of access.”