Assistive Technology

Choosing Only the Most “Sponge-worthy” Audiobooks

January 23, 2016 0

In my last post, I explained the most important thing about using Audible with your students: you can log into your audio library from an unlimited number of devices at the same time. In other words, if you buy one copy of the Hunger Games audiobook (about 10 dollars), multiple kids can listen to that book simultaneously from multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets or computers. That article discussed how to get the most value if you’re starting with just one audiobook. This article is going to show you how to buy audiobooks judiciously from Audible so you can build reading ladders and maximize your budget.


To be honest, using Audible can get expensive for a teacher paying out of pocket. However, most schools have a Special Education, Assistive Technology or classroom library budget for purchases such as this. Here is link to the different membership plans. The best membership plan is the “Platinum Annual Membership” since you simply get the lowest cost per book, and you get access to all of your book credits upfront.


Now that you’ve successfully lobbied your administrator to pay for Audible, you have credits to buy 25 audiobooks. But, before you start using up all of your credits, you’re going to have to create a system like Elaine did to determine which books give you the best value. After Elaine’s beloved Sponges went off the market, she needed to make sure she didn’t waste them on guys that weren’t Sponge-worthy.


Elaine determines whether or not her male suitor is “Sponge-worthy.” Audible subscribers need to ask if each book is “Audible-worthy.”


While Audible credits and contraceptives aren’t exactly alike, you still have to be very careful with how you use up your credits. You need to take into account the students’ that will be listening to the books, their interests and their audio reading level (their reading level when they are able to listen to a text). For example, you may have a student that is reading at a Level P when they have to decode the text on their own, but they can fully understand texts on a Level U when they are able to listen to a text as they read along. This is a simple example, but for a student like this, you’d want to purchase audiobooks that are on a Level U or V, but definitely not a Level P.


Once you know which students will be using the audiobooks, you then need to think about reading ladders. Reading ladders are based on the premise that students grow as readers when they are given many high interest books on a level. Then, after they finish those books, they advance to slightly harder books in the same genre. The cycle then continues to repeat until the student is a Level Z or higher. As such, the very first audiobook you should buy is a really popular book on the audio reading level of a kid who you know really needs to be using audiobooks. Then, if that student is successful when reading that book, they can continue reading books in that series, or similar books on that level. Plus, since you just purchased only books that are really popular, you’ll likely be able to “reuse” these audiobooks with other struggling readers in your class or in future years.

reading ladders

Teri Lesesne’s book explains that readers grow when they have the chance to read many high interest books on their level before advancing to slightly harder books within the same genre.


The biggest mistake to make is to purchase different books, from many different genres that are on many different levels. Suppose you bought Mockingjay, a Dork Diaries book , and the fourth book in the Percy Jackson series for three different kids in your class – you’ve just fixed a temporary problem since they all need the audiobook to be successful. However, it’ll be impossible to use these books as part of a reading ladder in the future, and you’ll quickly find yourself saying this to your administrator.


As always, Matt and I are here to help you. Please contact me at Rob@GrowingReadersDC.com if you need more info or want help setting this up.


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