Audiobooks to Spark Conversations with Older Teens

Older teens have a lot of information to sift through. Not only are they confronted with the universal struggles of leaving childhood behind and becoming an adult, but they’re also forming their own opinions on big ideas and issues. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about all of those topics with them if you’re not an educator. One easy way to start a conversation is by sharing and experiencing an audiobook together.

These popular audiobooks will help older teens dip a toe in the world of adult fiction and nonfiction while opening the door to meaningful conversations. Dive in and share, listen, and discuss.

 

Educated
Author: Tara Westover
Read By: Julia Whelan

“Living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable…a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life.” ‒USA Today

 

The unbelievable true story of a young woman raised in a conservative survivalist (and at times abusive) family who pushes herself to forge her own path. Without ever having been to school before, she gets into college and later into graduate programs at Harvard and Cambridge University.
Listen to an excerpt Educated

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

“Her new book offers 15 ways that we can encourage girls to be strong, to plant seeds of feminism. But more than that, Adichie hopes the book will help ‘move us toward a world that is more gender equal.’ Doing so means knocking down ingrained assumptions about how men and women think and behave.” ‒Nora Krug, The Washington Post

 

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.
Listen to an excerpt Dear Ijeawele

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating read and a ringing success. It is a well-written, carefully researched, complex saga of medical research, bioethics, and race in America. Above all it is a human story of redemption for a family, torn by loss, and for a writer with a vision that would not let go.” ‒Douglas Whynott, The Boston Globe

 

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine.
Listen to an excerpt The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

There There

“This is a novel about what it means to inhabit a land both yours and stolen from you, to simultaneously contend with the weight of belonging and unbelonging. There is an organic power to this book—a revelatory, controlled chaos. Tommy Orange writes the way a storm makes landfall.” ‒Omar El Akkad, author of American War

 

Read by a full cast, this critically-acclaimed novel illuminates the Urban Native American experience through the experiences of eleven different characters.
Listen to an excerpt There There

The Book of Unknown Americans

“A chronicle of a beautiful Mexican teenager named Maribel Rivera and her admiring friend and neighbor, Mayor Toro. Maribel and Mayor’s star-crossed love lends this novel an emotional urgency; the story of their families gives us a visceral sense of the magnetic allure of America, and the gaps so many immigrants find here between expectations and reality.… The story encapsulate[s] the promises and perils of the American dream.” ‒Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

 

Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart. Read by multiple narrators.
Listen to an excerpt The Book of Unknown Americans

Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club)

“A fresh, engaging entry into the eternally evolving narrative of what it means to be an American—and how human beings, not laws or dogma, define liberty.” ‒Entertainment Weekly

 

A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream, this is the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.
Listen to an excerpt Behold the Dreamers

The Age of Miracles

“Quietly explosive…Walker describes global shifts with a sense of utter realism, but she treats Julia’s personal adolescent upheaval with equal care, delicacy, and poignancy.” O, The Oprah Magazine

 

Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life.
Listen to an excerpt The Age of Miracles