A Decade of SYNC

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, March 14, 2019


We’re celebrating our tenth year this SYNC season! How are you planning to help spread the word about this proven program that supports teens’ access to great books and new listening?


In our previous post, we gave you directions to our toolkit that we built to help you help others to discover how they can access, download, and keep up to 28 free audiobooks for teens this coming season. We’ve provided earlier posts that give you a peek at some of those titles. Let’s look a little deeper at what we mean by “audiobooks for teens.”

When this annual program started ten years ago, the idea was to match pairs of weekly titles so each pair provided something new to teen publishing and a “classic” assigned in many schools. School assignments have changed a lot in the past decade and so have our pairs. Now we strive to provide weekly pairs of high interest titles for teens (middle and high school, as well as those out of school) that offer a combination of entertainment and critical thinking and knowledge opportunities. Yes, some of the audiobooks reflect texts assigned in some schools. However, each pair definitely includes at least one (and often two!) audiobooks that invite discussion and deeper consideration than passing entertainment alone. Teachers and book discussion leaders have used some of the titles we offer even while the label of "classic" is not attached. We choose audiobooks to share that are rich in language, skilled in performance, and concern compelling topics and characters with depth.

This season, eight of the audiobooks reflect the #OwnVoices movement, adding the dimension of narrator or narrators to the voice of the author as authentically reflecting experiences and values of identities traditionally underrepresented in teen book availability.

In addition, three of this season's audiobooks offer listeners staged dramas to give teens genuine experiences of how theater-storytelling differs from prose narrative and movies. The 28 titles also include a collection of short stories, a work discussing a political speech given several decades ago, narrative nonfiction on a popular science topic, and some biographies. Popular genres, including fantasy, historical, and realistic fiction, are in the collection.

Performance styles also vary: listeners will experience single narrator readings, dramatic performances of novels by full casts, and author-read works. Some titles are very short (under three hours) and a few top 10 hours apiece.

SYNC strives to offer a wide enough variety that everyone can find something to love and everyone has the opportunity to discover something--or more than one something--unexpected or previously unfamiliar.

Let us know how you plan to incorporate SYNC into programming you have on the go for the season so we can all meet new ideas for sharing audiobooks and listening engagement!


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