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Season 2, Episode 1

Teen and Tween Audiobooks - The Stories We Loved in 2020

April 8, 2021

Charity welcomes back Emily to discuss three timely stories that feature characters who aren't afraid to stand out and use their voice to make a difference. Book Recommendations for Tween and Teen Readers.

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Charity 0:02 Welcome to the Planet Book podcast. I'm your host Charity, a Youth Services associate with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. On each episode, you'll hear guests talk about their favorite tween and teen books. Thanks for joining me today. On this episode I'm joined by Emily, a youth programming specialist with the Christian County Library District. Emily, thanks for joining me today.

Emily 0:25 You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

Charity 0:28 I'm so excited to have you on the first episode of season two of the Planet Book podcast. And if anyone who has been following us through the first season, they might think that you sound familiar and that is because you were the host of season one.

Emily 0:45 I was the host of season one. I'm so excited to be back. It's the same microphone but I feel like I'm on the other side of it now because now I get to talk about the books that I like, instead of just rapidly writing down everybody else's favorite books and being like, I need to add that, I need to add that. So yeah, hopefully, we walk away from this episode with you being like, I need to add all these books to my to read list.

Charity 1:07 I hope so. Well, today, we're going to be talking about some of our favorite audiobooks that we've listened to recently. And I've got one to talk about. Emily, I know that you have brought one or two to share.

Emily 1:20 Yes.

Charity 1:21 And before we get into that, I'd like to hear your thoughts on audiobooks in general, because I know there are some folks out there, and I'm sure you've heard this too, that don't consider audiobooks to be kind of real reading.

Emily 1:37 Mm hmm.

Charity 1:38 And I'd love to hear your take on that. Like why should readers do audiobooks? Does it count as real reading?

Emily 1:45 I think it, I mean, I count it as real reading. And yes, I think it counts as real reading. You're still getting all of the things that you are getting, like from physically and visually reading a book. You're still getting all of those things when you're listening to a book. And for people who can't see well and like have, you know, visual impairments, they still read and it still counts whether you're feeling it like with Braille or whether you're listening to it with your ears. It still counts. You're still getting all of that same kind of information that you would get, and all the positives that we get from reading, you're still getting those when you're listening to an audiobook. And my favorite thing about, like, audiobooks is kind of I loved being read to aloud when I was a kid. I still love it today. I read out loud all the, even just to myself and my houseplants at my house. I read out loud all the time, because there's something so comforting about hearing a favorite story or even a new story out loud, that is just such an experience. It makes, it moves the book off of the page and into your world. And, yeah, I love audiobooks. And I think it's a great way to share something with a family. If you listen to an audio book together on a road trip or when you're having dinner or when you're cleaning the house or something, you can all experience the book together. And some of the audiobook productions are absolutely amazing and they add so much more to the story. And they add another, you know, layer of understanding to a story. And so yeah, I'm a big fan of audiobooks.

Charity 3:20 That's great. I will out myself and say that I did not like to be read to growing up and didn't listen to audiobooks for a really long time. And it's only been within the last several years that I have come to appreciate them so much. And probably half the books I read in a year now are on audio. And there is something as you said, Emily, that it's the same experience, you're getting all of the same good things out of that story, listening to it. But there is also an extra part of that experience that you get through listening. It is and I've gone back and listened to some books that I read in the book format and that listened to the audio and it's like kind of discovering that story in a whole new way, which is really fun. So if you have not, those of you listening, if you have not tried audiobooks, we both highly recommend them. So Emily, why don't you share with us what you brought to talk about today?

Emily 4:16 Before we do that, sorry, I just wanted to real quick, do you have a favorite audiobook narrator?

Charity 4:22 Oh, gosh. Well, Bahni Turpin, is one of my favorites,

Emily 4:26 Oh, Bahni Turpin, absolutely love her.

Charity 4:28 And she has narrated a lot of the books that Jacqueline Woodson has written,

Emily 4:33 Ooh,

Charity 4:34 She has a great voice, very expressive voice,

Emily 4:37 She does.

Charity 4:38 and she can do a lot of accents and everything too. And she is really great. There is a narrator, a woman who narrates a lot of adult fiction that I've read and her first name is Cassandra. And I'm totally blanking on her last name. But she narrated The Girl With All the Gifts which is adult fiction. [Correction: The Girl With All the Gifts is narrated by Finty Williams. The narrator the host refers to is Cassandra Campbell.]

Charity 5:00 But you can look her up in's catalog, Springfield-Greene County Library District's catalog, and you can search by narrator. So once you've listened to a lot of audiobooks, you can look up those people. And she has narrated a ton of books.

Emily 5:17 Yeah.

Charity 5:18 And sometimes if I can't find a good audio book, I will just look her up and see, okay, what has she narrated that I haven't listened to already?

Emily 5:24 Mm hmm.

Charity 5:25 That's another good way. Just listen to the things that your favorite narrator has done. And,

Emily 5:30 Yes

Charity 5:31 Her voice is just wonderful. I could listen to it all day. She could just read the phone book to me. Her voice is that wonderful.

Emily 5:35 It takes you on surprising twists and turns. Like I tried books that I would have never thought to try because of the narrator. And it takes you on a crazy journey to places you never imagined you would go. But then all of a sudden there you are reading that or listening to that book be read to you because you love the voice so much.

Charity 5:55 So what did you bring for us today?

Emily 5:56 My first one is a middle grade chapter book. And it is Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri. And I absolutely love it. I read it in book form and listened to the audiobook. It's narrated by Daniel, because it is his own story. It's the story of him and his mother and his sister having to flee from Iran due to religious persecution, and they become refugees. His story touches on kind of their journey from Iran to get to where they eventually are settled in Oklahoma. Which I thought was cool, because, you know, I spent time in Oklahoma as a kid because my grandparents lived there. And so it felt, like, it was right next door, that's where Daniel ended up. But the story is told, and he narrates his own story so well. I love when authors narrate their own, like memoir, their own, because it's just, like, it's just another level of them telling you their story and it's actually their voice, telling you their story. And, he also weaves a lot of Persian folklores, and like myths into his story as well. So he's just a wonderful storyteller. You get all of these flavors of Iran, he talks about the food, he talks about the culture, he talks about his parents and his grandparents' past as well. So you kind of get this history, not just like the immediate history of their lives, but also the longer history of Persia and through the stories of his myths and legends.

Charity 7:26 That sounds fascinating.

Emily 7:27 It's such a good book. But the story in the present, his story is about how strong his mother is, and how she, despite all of this adversity, and all of these hard things, she is the one who pulled their family out of that situation and got them to America. And no matter, like he keeps talking about how she's unstoppable, like she just refused to give up. And she just kept going until they got to the place that they're at, they had to escape some abusive relationships. And he has to try to acclimate as a young kid to an American school system. And the kids in Oklahoma have never seen anyone like him. And when he came over, it was actually during the Persian Gulf War. And so there was a lot of distrust of Middle Easterners, which is something that we can probably still identify with today. And so there was a lot of bias against him. And the kids in his school, his new school in Oklahoma had never seen anyone like him before. And so everything about him is weird. And, the way that he was raised in his culture was very different as well. He tells some really funny bathroom stories, like they got, there are several chapters that are just about poop because he thinks poop is very important,

Charity 8:40 Oh, wow.

Emily 8:41 So it definitely appeals to kids. I think one of the biggest things is not only did Daniel write the story about himself, he's telling the story. And he has the voice of, you know, a 12 year old boy, like, I believe him. He sounds like a kid. And the whole time, I was just thinking he sounds so relatable. He sounds so, like, I felt like I knew him, even though there were things that were so different. And there were some times where I was, you know, I didn't recognize some of the stories that he mentioned, but he explains them well enough. But man, he just, he's a kid that we all know, he's just a little different. And I loved it. I thought it was great.

Charity 9:19 That's the sign of great storytelling.

Emily 9:20 Yes, Charity When you can read a story and feel that way about it.

Emily 9:24 Yeah, yeah.

Charity 9:25 Who are the readers that you would recommend this book to? Who's this for?

Emily 9:29 So this book is a little bit longer than, I would say like your, a lot of middle grade that I read is somewhere in the 200 page range. This one is 368 pages. So it's going to be a bit of a time commitment, which is why I think listening to it on audiobook is a way that maybe kids who are intimidated by a big, you know, page number, a big thick book, it makes it a little bit more accessible to them. But I think any kid who likes to hear stories, likes the myth and the lore and the folk tale kind of aspect in storytelling, they'll really like this story. And then kids who like to read about kids like themselves, it's a realistic fiction. He's telling a real life story of what actually happened to him in his childhood. And he's a relatable kid. He's a relatable boy, young boy who, you know, gets into trouble and has like bicycle accidents, and all sorts of crazy things happen to him. And he's just so unbelievably relatable, I think. And, you know, I was never, you know, a young boy, but I still like the way that he writes about his childhood, I was like, I had moments like that when I was a kid. He's so relatable. So I think anyone who likes realistic fiction, and then for the kids who really like a long good story, like this is when you can really kind of dig into and there's so much there, his real life stuff, but then also the way he really relates it all back to the Persian folklore and legends. There's just so much there.

Charity 10:57 That sounds really wonderful. I hadn't read that one yet. But I will definitely have to put the audio on my list.

Emily 11:03 It's very good. I really like it.

Charity 11:06 Well I know you brought a teen audiobook. Before we get to that one I wanted to briefly share a middle grade, a tween audiobook that I read recently, and it's the sequel to a book that I really enjoyed The List by Patricia Forde. And so the sequel just came out called The Last Lie, and it is what I would describe as sci fi, science fiction, dystopian. And for listeners who aren't sure what dystopian means it means the world is really in trouble and everything is going wrong. And there aren't a whole lot of stories like that just yet, for that age. And so, and we're starting to see more kids come in who want a science fiction book, and they're just aren't a ton. Middle grade is full of fantasy, and lots of mystery. So this one was great. And it is kind of heavy, it's not super long. But it centers around this girl who really tries to save her society. And it's a society where the government has decided that they want people to not have language. And so they start in the first book by limiting the words that they can say. And so there are words in the language that are outlawed. And you're given a prescribed list of words that you're allowed to use. And gradually, that list gets smaller and smaller. And so in this new book, The Last Lie, they're at the point where they have taken the babies and women are raising them. But they're not allowed to talk to them at all. And so the idea is that if those babies never hear any words, they won't have any words. And if you don't have any words, then you're not going to be able to say anything bad about your government, you're not going to be able to be critical of them. And you'll be able to be controlled much easier by your government. So it's kind of dark, but it does have a good ending. The audio was very good. And the main character, she's a really strong character, and she's able to really make a difference, which I appreciated. I liked it because we kind of have been in dark times.

Emily 13:17 Mm hmm.

Charity 13:18 And I thought this book in a way, even though it's kind of dark, it shows this young girl who believes in her people and that, you know, she's able to make a difference. And when you speak up and you're willing to make a difference, you can affect big change. I thought that was a good thing. So I would definitely recommend The Last Lie by Patricia Forde.

Emily 13:43 Okay, nice. Once again, another book to add to my list.

Charity 13:47 That to be read list just keeps growing and growing.

Emily 13:50 Grows and grows.

Charity 13:52 All right, so you've also brought a teen audiobook for us?

Emily 13:54 Yes. So it is Kent State by Deborah Wiles. And there was another Kent State book that came out right around the same time and that one is called Kent State: Four dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf which is his real name, I looked it up.

Emily 14:08 Like, Derf is his nickname that he goes by. But that's like his legit name anyway. But it is an adult graphic novel. This is a YA book that is told it's a novel in verse. But when you listen to the audiobook, it is told with a full cast audio and so what Kent State is about which it's historical fiction, that talks about the Kent State shootings that happened in 1970. Which I knew about, but like we brushed upon, in you know, like my school history courses, but I didn't really know tons about it. And so I really appreciated getting to see all of these different perspectives that the author includes because it gives you the student perspective, the people who lived in the town where the university is set, it gives you their point of view. It gives you a protester's point of view, it gives you a member of the National Guardsmen that were called in who actually committed the shooting. It gives you all of their perspectives. And each of the different points of view, they're not a named person, they are just a different point of view. And so each one of them has their own voice actor for the audio, which really brings in, they get to kind of act their part. And one of the two first speakers that you hear are both students at the college and one is a man and one's a woman. And one is kind of more like the voice of reason. And one is more angry, and on the protester side, and they were protesting the Vietnam War. But they are kind of inviting the reader/listener in to hear their story, they want to tell their story so that they are not forgotten. And so having it listening to it as an audio was just like another level of that experience of being invited into their story and getting to hear the inflections in their voice as they talked about the heartbreaking things that happened and how scared they were. And not just the students, but the townspeople as well, they were terrified about what was going on. You know, they were just this kind of small town on the outside of this, you know, university campus, and, and then all of a sudden, they were like tanks rolling down the streets and their town, and the college kids were coming off the campus and like starting fires, and they were like, what is going on the world is ending. And so I think that the author did such a good job of providing the, it's such a broad view of the events and really giving you, the reader listener, like, the flavor of each different person's point of view. And you can really see both sides, because even now, to this day, it's you know, this shooting happened in 1970. And they, four college students, were killed. And there are still people who are not 100% clear about what led to those events and who was right and who was wrong. It's just such a sad part of our American history that I think kind of gets glossed over a little bit, people like mention it, like, and let's move on. So having this book, which is a very short book, I think it's only, it's under 200 pages.

Charity 17:11 Oh, wow

Emily 17:12 When you look at the book, but listening to it, it was only about four and a half hours, I think it was under five hours, the audio book, which is short, for an audio book.

Charity 17:20 Yes

Emily 17:21 It made me want to learn more about and look up more about it. And there's a really great afterword that the author narrates at the end, where she talks about the work that she did to research. And she talked a lot about the museum that is on the Kent State campus where they have tried to go and interview as many people as possible who are on campus at the time students, the people in the town, the people in the National Guard, the leadership at the university as well, to get their oral recollections of what happened, so that it can all be preserved. Because it is such a like, we don't want to let it be kind of rewritten and glossed over. They want the actual people who were there to give voice to what they saw. And it really made me want to go and visit like I'm planning another vacation around a museum visit because I want to go there and see it because she talks about it so well in the afterword. But it was just an amazing story. And I love full cast audio productions of audiobooks, and then an author reading their own story are like my two favorite kinds of narrations.

Charity 18:29 They're the best narrations you're going to get.

Emily 18:32 I love it so much. So I'm glad that these are the two that I got to talk about today.

Charity 18:36 Yes, you know, I'm from Ohio and I didn't know that there was a museum there to honor that event, so I'm gonna have to put this one on my list.

Emily 18:47 Yeah.

Charity 18:48 Who would you recommend this one for what type of reader?

Emily 18:50 I think anybody who likes history, realistic fiction, anybody who's interested in political unrest and protests against government actions, and people's right to speak out, all of those things, which are so timely to what is going on in our world right now and what's being published in YA fiction right now. They're gonna love this book. It really shows that like, the things that we're going through, now, the people in the past also went through them. And I really like in the very beginning of the book, The female voice of the student, she talks about how they're the children of the people who kind of banded together and started unionizing so that they could get better treatment and better pay and better leave from the businesses, the industry of Ohio. And then these people were like, shocked when they sent their kids to college and their kids were like, we're gonna rise up and speak about injustice and their parents were like, wait, wait, wait, I sent you to college just to learn stuff like you need to learn and like no, no, I learned from you. You stood up and had a voice and changed your world and changed my world and I want to do the same thing. It's so sad on one hand. They talk about each of the four victims, but they also just talk about what was going on for that weekend and those days surrounding the shooting as well. And it was just such an interesting perspective. And I got a look into a historical event that I didn't really know a ton about. And I think any YA reader who is interested in political activism, anyone who's interested in seeing both sides of that story, the anti war and the pro war kind of story, and then anybody who likes history. It's a great story and a great look at our history here in America. So I really liked it.

Charity 20:38 And what a great choice that was. I mean, it's so timely with everything that's been going on in our society over the last year. What a great title. Thank you so much, Emily, for joining me and for bringing these awesome books to talk about.

Charity 20:58 Thanks for joining us on the Planet Book podcast today. To find these titles and other great titles, check out the library's website at for these and other great books suggestions, and follow us on Facebook for the latest news and events. This has been a production of the Springfield Greene County Library District. Thanks for listening.

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