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10 Awesome Audiobooks for Teens Who Think Differently

For high schoolers who view summer reading as a miserable chore — whether because of ADHD, dyslexia, or just because — these irresistible audiobooks may just make literature seem lit.

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"We Were Liars"

By E. Lockhart
Narrated by Ariadne Meyers

Spend your summer on a private island off Cape Cod with a family as rich as they are beautiful, the Sinclairs. But behind the veneer of perfection fester dark secrets and unsolved mysteries, like: What’s behind the terrible accident that caused Cadence to lose her memory? This compulsively readable suspense novel and the alluring narration will keep resistant readers riveted through twists and turn.

Buy We Were Liars on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

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"One of Us Is Lying"

By Karen McManus
Multi-person cast of narrators

The juggernaut whodunit unspools the story of one deadly detention, where five kids walk in to serve their time and only four emerge. Who killed Simon? And how? And why? These questions propel the reader forward in this modern murder mystery with an utterly unexpected ending. A full cast of voice talent will keep listeners on the edge of their seats throughout.

Buy One of Us Is Lying on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

[Summer Activities for Teens (That Don't Involve Screens)]


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"Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe"

By Benjamin Alire Saenz
Narrated by Lin Manuel Miranda

Hamilton fans, take note. This love story, chosen by Time as a Best YA Book of All Time, is narrated by none other than Lin Manuel Miranda, whose warm, energized reading makes the first person narration leap off the page. Saenz’s novel takes place in Texas in 1987, and follows Ari, a lonely, miserable 15-year-old whose life changes the day he meets Dante, a big-hearted, charismatic, and openly gay teen who is unlike anyone Ari’s ever met. What follows is the blossoming of an unforgettable friendship, as well as a journey of identity exploration and self-understanding that will make teen readers laugh, cry, and think about how they want to live their one and only life.

Buy Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

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"The Poet X"

By Elizabeth Acevedo
Narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo

“You sure ain’t an easy one” is what 15-year-old Xiomara Batista has been hearing all her life. The first-generation Dominican-American teen is used to harassment — from men on the street and from girls at school — and her instant response is to fight. But she feels a pull, too, to create. She pours out poems into her leather notebook, finding in herself a powerful voice — one her strict Catholic mother doesn’t condone. The audiobook of this novel-in-verse, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, is read by the author herself, a celebrated slam poet, and her electric narration will grab readers from the first sentence.

Buy The Poet X on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

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"A List of Cages"

By Robin Roe
Narrated by Graham Halstead and Christopher Gebauer

Ninth grade is not going well for Julian. He’s teased by other students, criticized by teachers for missing school and for messy work (a result of undiagnosed dyslexia), and has to have weekly meetings with the school psychologist. The real trouble for Julian, though, is at home. It’s only when Julian runs into Adam, a senior with ADHD who used to be Julian’s foster brother, that anyone uncovers Julian’s dark secrets. Written by a former high school special ed teacher and counselor who runs a mentoring program for at-risk teens, this novel is voiced by two different narrators who thread skillful emotion through Adam and Julian’s alternating perspectives.

Buy A List of Cages on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

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"They Both Die At the End"

By Adam Silvera
Multi-person cast of narrators

It’s not a spoiler to share that the main characters of They Both Die At the End, well, die at the end. Readers know this from the get-go, since the book opens with Rufus and Mateo each getting a call from Death-Cast informing them that it’s their End Day. The teens, who start out as strangers, are brought together through an app called Last Friend, and embark on a friendship that is as transformative as it is short-lived. The book’s humor, heart, and originality catapulted it to the top of The New York Times bestsellers list and made it a favorite on #BookTok. The audio version, with a multi-person cast of narrators, offers added stimulation for listeners who need it.

Buy They Both Die At the End on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

[Read: Never Enough? Why ADHD Brains Crave Stimulation]

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"These Violent Delights"

By Chloe Gong
Narrated by Cindy Kay

A retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai, These Violent Delights is chock full of romance, tension, and bloodshed. In this version, Juliette, of the Scarlet gang, and Roma, of the White Flowers gang, have already experienced love at first sight and the worst-ever breakup. At the start of the story, they are bitter rivals feuding for rule of the city. That is, until a common enemy joins them together. Unlike the source material, this story’s cast is diverse, including characters of all races and ethnicities as well as those who identify as LGBTQ+. Narrator Cindy Kay brings them all to life with a vivacious reading that teens will love enough to tune into the sequel.

Buy These Violent Delights on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

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"The Handmaid’s Tale"

By Margaret Atwood
Narrated by Claire Danes

The first feminist dystopian novel that paved the way for all the rest, Margaret Atwood’s novel has been popular since its publication in 1985, but it enjoyed a resurgence of popularity following the 2017 introduction of its TV adaption. After a theocratic revolution overthrows the government, women are stripped of all their rights. Amid widespread infertility, the women who can become pregnant are forced to become handmaids, and bear the children of wealthy and powerful men. Celebrity Claire Danes narrates the chilling story of Offred, a handmaid who dares to break the rules.

Buy The Handmaid’s Tale on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

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"Shadow and Bone"

By Leigh Bardugo
Narrated by Lauren Fortgang

Fantasy lovers, get ready to lose yourself in the enthralling world known to fans as the Grisha-verse. The first book of a trilogy, Shadow and Bone follows Alina, a soldier fighting in the ever-raging war that made her an orphan. When Alina discovers, in an attempt to save her best friend, that she possesses magic, she finds herself dropped into a world of royalty, power, and secrets. Action-packed and thrilling, this fantasy phenomenon is voiced by Lauren Fortgang, who has voiced all of Leigh Bardugo’s many fantasy reads.

Buy Shadow and Bone on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

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By Laurie Halse Anderson
Narrated by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson’s groundbreaking novel about a high school girl who is the victim of sexual assault, made waves when it was published in 1999. Two decades later, Anderson published  Shout, a memoir about her own experience with sexual assault and the trauma it caused in her life. Anderson’s book is written in verse, the powerful, lyrical language made even more impactful when readers hear it spoken by Anderson’s own voice.

Buy Shout on Amazon (#CommissionsEarned)

Summer Reading for Teens: Next Steps

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Best Audiobooks for Young Adult Readers

Books don’t typically compete with the fast pace, easy excitement, and instant gratification of TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube — especially for ADHD brains that crave stimulation. Many teens who struggle with print, whether because of dyslexia or another learning difference, would rather scrub the bathroom than crack open a work of literature. That’s where audiobooks fit in.

Far from the dry “books on tape” of yesteryear, new audiobooks come to life with high production values, celebrity narrators, and often a multi-person cast of voice talent. Readers have noticed the improvement, and they are riding the audio wave in record numbers: the most recent report from the Audio Publishers Association shows that sales have increased by double digits each year for 10 straight years. Among the most popular genres are fantasy, science fiction, and mystery — all hugely popular with a teen audience. What’s more, audiobooks can bolster reading skills, according to recent research, including a study published in Journal of Neuroscience, which found that the brain responded the same way to content, whether read or heard. Long story short: audiobooks are worth a look — or, rather, a listen.

So, we’ve compiled a list of 10 terrific audiobooks that will rivet young adult readers. Spanning fantasy, historical fiction, dystopian lit, love stories, and murder mysteries, every book on our list features voice actors who powerfully conjure the story, drawing in even the most resistant teen.