Ways to Use Audio Books to Support Your Readers

Audio books have become a great tool to use in the classroom for offering differentiated instruction, variety, and fun! In this post I'm going to share with you some of my most favorite ways to use audio books in your own classroom and how making your own audio books is surprisingly easy! I'll walk you through a few simple steps to how you can customize your own audio book library!

Audio books have become a great tool to use in the classroom for offering differentiated instruction, variety, and fun!   In this post I'm going to share with you some of my most favorite ways to use audio books in your own classroom.


There are several reasons why I think mixing in audio books in your reading instruction can help your students.

  • Audio books offer a great model of fluency and expression. Students hear the way a text should be read and can learn from it, and apply it in their own reading.

  • Audio books allow students to focus on the content of the text, not the act of reading. This is especially helpful in the content areas (science, social studies...etc.). Students are expected to learn and understand their grade level's content information, but many struggling students are unable to read the texts being used to teach that content. Being able to listen to it will help break down any reading barriers that may get in the way of a student's comprehension of the subject matter.

  • Audio books provide additional ways to expose students to the same information. Students benefit from hearing the same information in different ways. Audio books are just one more way to present new information to a student.

  • Audio books develop listening skills. Students learn to focus on what they are listening to and draw out the key points. Giving students graphic organizers to complete while listening is a great way to help them focus.


One of the most obvious ways to use audio books is in a listening center.  In small groups or even as individuals, students can follow along to an audio book and then complete comprehension activities after completing the book.

You can also use audio books in small novel groups.  Students can meet on a regular basis to listen to a book together.  As a group, students can complete projects and activities together in response to their novel.  If you are creating your own audio books (more on that in a moment), you can even record yourself asking discussion questions within the audio track, prompting students to pause the audio book to stop and talk about what they are reading.

Use audio books to help students work on their fluency.  To do this, provide students with a copy of the text and as the book is read, students will also read out loud with the book.  Encourage the students to mimic the reading style on the audio with their own voice.  Create your own audio track by recording fluency phrases for students to practice reading.

Another way is to use audio books in the classroom is to have the students create some sort of visual representation of what they are listening to.  Have students illustrate scenes of their story or illustration important concepts learned.  Students can also create word clouds to represent key ideas, characters, events...etc..from the text.  Students may need to pause the audio to complete potions of their visual representation.  This strategy gives students the opportunity to internalize what they are learning and represent it in a way that makes sense to them.

Have students create their own audio book!  Provide students with a recording device (there's an app for that!) Allow students to record themselves reading a short book, a poem, or their favorite part of a book.  If working with a longer book, assign different students a section to read, and then connect the audio clips together to create one reading of the book!  Have a class celebration to listen to the completed project.  Students LOVE hearing their voice.

Send audio books home with students!  If your school is able, load an audio book file onto an iPod, tablet, or other device to send home with your students.  If making your own audio book, you can easily upload an mp3 file onto a google drive and share the link with your students to take home to listen to.

You can easily differentiate your instruction using audio books.  While some students read the printed version of a text, struggling readers can benefit from the audio version.  A student's listening comprehension is typically beyond what they understand in print.  Audio books keep struggling reader's from falling behind in the content areas.

Another unique way to use audio books in the classroom is to use it as an incentive.  Instead of offering a prize or a sticker to your students for reaching a reading goal or milestone, allow those students to spend some special time in the classroom (perhaps during lunch) listening to an audio book together.  Students can get comfy and sit in beanbag chairs, carpet squares, or other fun places in your room with a snack and listen to a book as the reward!  You can even make it a whole-class reward!  It teaches students that reading is a reward, not a task!

Start a new book by listening to the first few pages or first chapter.  Many times audio books have background sound effects to make the story come alive.  Doing this gets the students hooked on the book!  You can use it as a teaser to get students excited to read the rest on their own or in small groups.

Can’t find the audio book your looking for? MAKE YOUR OWN!

It’s actually simpler then you think. Simple find a recording app on your smartphone (just search for “free recorder”) and record yourself reading a book. It will usually save as an mp3 file that you can then transfer on to any digital device!

There you have it, some simple ways to include audio books in your classroom.