Audible, Trevor Noah and Newark Come Together for High School-wide Listen

Two high school students stand on a Newark street, earphones around their neck, looking excitedly at a tablet one of them is holding.

It’s the dream of every passionate book lover–to have everyone you know enjoying the same story in which you’re immersed. Imagine: you would always have someone to exclaim with over the characters’ highs and freak out with over their lows, rooting them on together.

That’s what nearly 11,000 Newark public-school students experienced in their first-ever high school-wide listen. The audiobook chosen for this experience: Trevor Noah’s comedic, bittersweet memoir Born a Crime, about growing up in South Africa during apartheid.

Trevor Noah and Newark high school students discuss the impact of Project Listen Up.

The event was part of Audible’s Project Listen Up, a collaboration between Audible and Newark public schools to integrate the educational benefits of listening into the school curriculum. Audible provided every Newark public high school student and their teachers with a free year of Audible membership, a bundle of 150+ educator-selected audiobooks, a set of headphones and an Amazon Fire tablet.

"I’m blown away by this amazing initiative that Audible and the city of Newark have put together, and I’m humbled that they have selected my story for this city-wide school listening club,” said Noah. “Performing my Audible book was an emotional and rewarding experience, and I’m so gratified to see it inspiring meaningful conversations among students and teachers about their own histories and convictions.”

The initiative was a way to say thank you “to our adopted hometown” as Audible marked its 10th year in Newark and its 20th year as a company, said founder and CEO Don Katz, adding that “students, parents, and teachers consistently tell us how powerfully listening to Audible has made a difference, whether it engenders a lasting love of stories, builds active vocabulary, helps with academics, or simply allows people to fit more books into their lives.”

Students, parents, and teachers consistently tell us how powerfully listening to Audible has made a difference.
Don KatzFounder and CEO, Audible

The science backs this up. Among the verified benefits of listening for developing readers are increased vocabulary, improved enjoyment of and interest in literature, and stronger foundational skills for speaking and writing. Listening also assists struggling readers to better understand the text, lifting their reading comprehension and helping them learn more effectively.

Or as Ama Hagan, a senior at the North Star Academy in Newark put it, “When you’re listening, you get deeper into the book because you hear the narrator as the different characters. Audible enhances my understanding of literature assignments and I’m able to get more evidence and write better essays than in previous years.”

With the successful launch of Project Listen Up, Audible looks forward to continuing to invest in and scale this initiative in the years ahead.

Born a Crime cover art
Born a CrimeBy: Trevor Noah / Narrated by: Trevor Noah