Playaways digital audiobooks have become really popular with teens in some libraries–and no wonder, since they’re MP3 players preloaded with a single book. Audiobooks are another way to get teens reading–and Playaways are a convenient way teens can listen to a book while on the go, without anyone else knowing that they’re listening to a book. MP3 players also have the appeal of modern technology and portability.
Playaways may get teens to read required books for school that they otherwise might have slugged through or not completely read. One teen said that “listening to Romeo and Juliet has made it easier to understand Shakespeare.” Teens are also listening to books that have been made into movies, such as The Golden Compass and The Chronicles of Narnia. Because actors use voice inflections in audiobooks, they can help bring books alive for some readers.
Being read to can be an enjoyable experience, and while it’s not the same as reading the actual text in a book, it can add to the experience or give you a different flavor of the book.
For personal use, Playaways seem like an expensive alternative. I would much rather purchase a digital download of an audiobook, an play it on my own MP3 player, than purchase a physical (and thus more expensive) Playaway. But Playaways seem like the perfect blend of books and modern technology for libraries. Payaways seem like a great tool to get teens and kids to read more–inside and outside of libraries.
Read more about the success of Playaways at one library, in the School Library Journal.