5 Audiobooks That Are Great Listens for Teens

Five Teen Audiobook Suggestions for Great Listening
AudioFile for The Children’s Book Review

For this back-to-school month, AudioFile’s editors have five suggestions for great listening. Those looking for a true back-to-school audiobook that provides a bit of an escape will be thrilled by Axie Oh’s XOXO, a listen that whisks you off to South Korea and the world of K-Pop stars. Fantasy listeners have three excellent audiobooks to explore, including SIX CRIMSON CRANES, and Emily Woo Zeller discusses the challenges of voicing the characters in her narrator video. Fans of realistic fiction will find that Michael Crouch’s narration of IN THE WILD LIGHT adds richness to the emotionally intense story of two teens making their way in the world.


Story by Elizabeth Lim

Read by Emily Woo Zeller

Ages 12+ | Listening Library | 12.75 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Emily Woo Zeller immerses listeners in this fairy-tale-inspired fantasy. Shiori learns to wield forbidden magic from a shape-shifting dragon. After stumbling upon her stepmother’s secret, Shiori is exiled and cursed to remain mute—every word uttered means death to one of her six brothers, who have been transformed into cranes. Zeller’s vocal versatility shines as she adjusts tone and cadence to capture a large cast of characters. This trope-defying audiobook, rich with European folklore and Asian mythology, is not one to miss. Review »

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In the Wild Light Audiobook Cover

Story by Jeff Zentner

Read by Michael Crouch

Ages 14+ | Listening Library | 10.5 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Michael Crouch’s Southern accent depicts the East Tennessee origins of Cash Pruitt and stresses the gentleness and sensitivity at the core of his character. Crouch also portrays the headstrong certainty of his brilliant friend Delaney Doyle, whom Cash met in a support group for children whose parents struggle with drug addiction. Crouch tenderly renders the fragility, kindness, and wisdom of Cash’s Papaw, who has raised him and who is dying from emphysema. Crouch shows his gift for adding richness to the spot-on, emotion-filled dialogue, powerful shared moments, and Cash’s lyrical view of the world. Review »

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The Witch King Audiobook Cover

Story by H.E. Edgmon

Read by Dani Martineck

Ages 15+ | Harlequin Audio | 12 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Trans, queer witch Wyatt Croft—portrayed by narrator Dani Martineck—escaped the fae kingdom where he was raised to find freedom in the human world. Years later, Wyatt is taken by surprise when his betrothed—a fae prince named Emyr—shows up to bring him home. Martineck characterizes Wyatt with realistic emotion, bringing his snarky stubbornness, troubling past, and teenage flirtations to life. Emyr’s voice is more restrained, with playful undertones that are delightful to hear. This fantasy blends explorations of race, class, colonialism, sexuality, gender, rebellion, and romance without being heavy-handed. Review »

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REDEMPTOR Audiobook Cover

Story by Jordan Ifueko

Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt

Ages 15+ | Blackstone Audio | 11 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Joniece Abbott-Pratt makes a triumphant return to narrate this thrilling sequel to RAYBEARER. Tarisai is now empress of Aritsar and reckoning with its disturbing legacy. She faces daunting tasks as a ruler, including ending a centuries-long practice of sacrificing children to the Underworld to appease its malevolent spirits. Tarisai’s strength, her vulnerability, and the love of her friends shine through in Abbott-Pratt’s compelling narration, which captures each character’s spirit. Listening to the audiobook provides an added bonus: Abbott-Pratt’s warm voice singing the many chants and songs woven throughout. Review »

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XOXO Audiobook Cover

Story by Axie Oh

Read by Greta Jung

Ages 13+ | Harper Audio | 9.25 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Greta Jung’s upbeat performance will have listeners eager to follow Jenny, an American teenage cellist, as she jets off for a semester at a prominent Korean performing arts school. Jenny is quick to make friends at the school, and falls for her classmate Jaewoo—who happens to be an international K-pop star. Jung has a wonderful ability to deepen and smooth her voice for the charming heartthrob. She voices each character with striking detail and carefully modulates her use of an accent. This is a sweet, fun romance with a relentlessly optimistic heroine who is fully captured in Jung’s narration. Review »

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The article 5 Audiobooks That Are Great Listens for Teens was curated by AudioFile. AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience. AudioFile Earphones Awards are given to exceptional audiobooks. To learn more, visit audiofilemagazine.com, Twitter @AudioFileMag, and Facebook @audiofilemagazine.

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September 16, 2021 at 09:42AM Bianca Schulze