Playaways — Great Way to Read Children’s Books

Listening to Playaways is a great way to listen to children's books.

Listening to Playaways is a great way to listen to children’s books.


As a public middle librarian, I choose to immerse myself in the reading of children’s books – classics and modern day – to try to interest and encourage students to read. As an author, this can be a challenge in finding time/energy to read after writing /researching most days.

A great solution for me has been to listen to books while I’m walking. For years I’ve listened to books on CD and even cassette tape (yes, I still have a tape recorder!) during my daily hour-long walks. Nowadays I’m taking advantage of items called Playaways.

A Playaway is a complete book on an item the size of a deck of cards. It is an MP3 that just requires a AAA battery and headphones.

Boy, do I love these things! I place a Playaway in my handy bag with its long strap and fling it over my head and off I go!

I’ve listened to dozens of books by Playaway and am still enthralled with the ease and entertainment of these little guys. Usually the novel is read by a single reader. I’m so impressed by the talent of these actors to create different characters with their single voice.

Stop the Train! by Geraldine McCaughrean was read by a whole troupe of actors with musical backgrounds and sound effects!

Sometimes the novels are read by the actual author. I loved hearing Jack Gantos read one of his Joey Pigza books. Cool!

The popularity of Tim Green’s sports books at my school prompted me to try one—and this middle-aged female who is not crazy about sports loved it! Not only did Tim do the narration for the books, his own kids read the parts for kid characters in the books! How fun is that? I’ve listened to three of Tim’s books on Playaways.

Playaways are fairly expensive– $40+/each. My local library stocks them, thankfully so I don’t have to buy them.

I’m hoping the Playaway people will put my own books on these nifty contraptions so more people could listen to them.

Hermes by Kayleen Reusser

Hermes by Kayleen Reusser

Leona Lewis by Kayleen Reusser

Leona Lewis by Kayleen Reusser

Taylor Swift Day by Day by Kayleen Reusser

Taylor Swift Day by Day by Kayleen Reusser


If your library does not have Playaways, suggest they purchase a half dozen or so. They could be helpful for kids to use while riding in a car and following along with a book. Or by adults who love listening to children’s books.

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