Winnefox Library System Gets Grant to Provide Wonder Books

Wonder Books are a cross between regular books and audio books, with the option to allow readers to choose to listen or follow along with the words.

The Winnefox Library System long has provided books to the smaller outlying libraries in the Fox Valley, but with recent grants it now can provide Wonder Books as well.

The Webster Foundation and Oshkosh Area Community Foundation each gifted $750 to Winnefox for purchases of the Wonder Books for its circulation system to smaller libraries throughout the Fox Valley. This comes after the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation donated $1,000 to the program in 2023.

Wonder Books are the newest version of books on tape, according to Winnefox Cooperative Technical Services Coordinator Crystal Marschall.


Crystal Marschall with Winnefox Library Systems shows off a Wonder Book.

“These books provide so many opportunities for children to pick up a book and be able to read or click the read-along button to have the book read to them,” she said. “This is so empowering to children who struggle to read, and now they can pick up a book and follow along on their own.”

She added Wonder Books come in many versions, which includes picture, early chapter, nonfiction, Spanish language, sing-alongs, chapter, comic/graphics, large print (helps children with dyslexia) and young adult.

“It also has the option to make the book interactive and ask questions along the way or at the end,” Marschall said. 

Her son, who is 4 years old, is a fan of audio books, but she said he can use the Wonder Books to follow along and is learning to read with those books.

“It fills the gap between readers and listeners,” Lyon said. “They work very well to get those children who are not reading yet introduced to the written word, but can follow along with the audio.”

The Caestecker Public Library has about 40 Wonder Books in its permanent collection and receives between 10 to 15 books through the rotation as a member library of the Winnefox Library System.

The Ripon Public Library has nearly 170 Wonder Books, according to Youth Services Librarian Linda DeCramer, across such categories as picture books, beginning readers, chapter books and large-print chapter books.

“The library has been circulating Wonder Books [including] picture, emergent reader and chapter books, for youth since 2020 with enormous success,” DeCramer said. “These self-contained units circulate like a print book and are extremely popular with children, parents and educators for their appeal, as well as their literacy-building capabilities. Data consistently confirm that pairing print with audio results in literacy skill gains such as comprehension and decoding, while students report significant increases in their enjoyment of, and confidence in, reading.”

Marschall reported that Wonder Books are circulating well and are popular with readers of all types.

“The circulation numbers for these Wonder Books are outstanding,” Marschall said. “Sometimes when the bin rotates to the next library, there are only a few books in it until more books are returned. I was at a library [recently] and there were only two books on their shelf out of 16 books in a bin. This is a good problem because that means patrons are checking out these books, and that was our goal. We don’t want books sitting on our shelves, we want them in the hands of our patrons making use of them.”

Along with books in Spanish, the Wonder Books also can be adjusted for speed, slowing down the playback so the reader can more easily follow along with the written word, Marschall said. 

According to information provided by Wonder Books and Sound Learning APA, a reader can improve comprehension by 76% through Wonder Books and increase reading accuracy by 52%.

Students’ motivation is increased by 67% by using a combination of print and audio, and 27% of K-12 students are auditory learners, the organization claims, and it says that 85% of what is learned is learned by listening.

Slow readers, those with dyslexia, shy readers and students who are behind in reading skills will benefit from Wonder Books, Marschall said, adding “kids learn when learning is fun.”

For more information about Wonder Books, contact the Ripon Public Library at 920-748-6160 or visit

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