What are they?

Playaways are MP3 players containing an audiobook. First introduced in 2005 by Findaway World, LLC, they are not new; however, because of their expense, school libraries may have only a small collection (if at all).

How can I use them to promote reading?

Educators have long used audiobooks on tape or CD to encourage reluctant readers and those with reading disabilities to read for pleasure. Today's students may never even have heard of a tape cassette player, much less have one.

Playaways appeal to our students today for several reasons: they are small enough to carry in a pocket, lightweight, and unobtrusive. Students who may never think of checking out a book might be tempted by a Playaway.


The Case for Using Audiobooks

Phyllis Levy Mandell provides not only reasons for using audiobooks, but also a great list of audiobooks divided by grade level to assist you in building your collection. Her article "Heard Any Good Books Lately?" in the August 2010 issue of School Library Journal can be found through SC DISCUS (see Bibliography below).

Increasing Circulation

Want to announce the addition of new Playaways to your school? Want to be able to quickly and easily explain what a Playaway is?

Visit Playaway for Libraries. There you can order FREE materials including posters, stickers, shelf tape, and brochures (click on Free Resources). You can also download graphics to include in your library newsletter and customize flyers for your library.

Managing Your Library's Playaway Collection

Ms. Reader Pants, the pseudonym of a Texas middle school librarian, has blogged about the success of her Playaway program and shares how she manages the library's Playaway collection. She discusses storage, headphones, batteries, whether or not to "kit" the Playaways with print copies, and more. It is an excellent read for anyone considering investing in Playaways or for those who struggle with their Playaway management (like me!).

Protecting the Library's Investment

To ensure that their Playaway collection is used responsibly, some school libraries require parents to complete a permission form in order for students to be able to check them out. Some example forms:

Bennetsville Middle School (South Carolina)

Northern Middle School (Pennsylvania)


Mandell, Phyllis Levy. "Heard any good books lately?" School Library Journal Aug. 2010: 32+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 11 Mar. 2012.

"Mrs. ReaderPants: Badgers Heart Playaways: Making the Case for Playaways in School Libraries." Mrs. ReaderPants. N.p., 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 11 Mar. 2012. <>.

"Mrs. ReaderPants: Managing Your Playaway Collection." Mrs. ReaderPants. N.p., 8 Mar. 2012. Web. 11 Mar. 2012. <>.

"Playaway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2012. <>.