Monday, April 14, 2008

Listen Up! Audiobooks and Literacy Development

Listen Up! Audiobooks and Literacy Development
Texas Library Association Pre-conference Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Presentation Notes by Mary Burkey

Voyage to Excellence

The Bubble Book ~ 1917 (Harper-Columbia)
The first children’s book & record, released just four years after Edison releases his first disc record. In fact, Edison envisioned the recorded book in his 1878 article “The Phonograph and Its Future.”

Pre-television Age ~ 1930s-1950s
Major recording labels produce recorded version of children’s books featuring top stars & original musical accompaniment. Standouts include de Brunhoff’s Babar Stories (Decca 1936), Seuss’ The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (RCA Victor, 1940), McCloskey’s Lentil (Young People’s Records, 1946), and Jimmy Stewart’s narration of storybook-&-album Winnie-the-Pooh (RCA Victor, 1953).

Little Golden Records ~ 1940s-1960s
Popular series included bright yellow, unbreakable 25¢ records in titles such as The Poky Little Puppy (1948) and The Little Engine that Could (1954).

Birth of Producers of Today ~ 1950s
Weston Woods established by Mort Schindel in 1953. Early titles such as Millions of Cats & Make Way for Ducklings are seen on the Captain Kangaroo television show. Listening Library established by Anthony & Helen Ditlow 1955. The first release was Around the World in 80 Days, narrated by David Niven.

Audiobook Lists & Awards:
Grammy Award for Spoken Word (1959) Grammy Spoken Word for Children (1994)

Notable Children’s Recordings (1977)
YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks (1999)

Audio Publishers Assocociation (formed in 1986) Audie Award (1996)

Odyssey Award (2008)
Joint task force formed in 2005 consisting of representatives from ALA’s ALSC & YALSA divisions, audiobook publishers, and award sponsor Booklist Magazine. First Odyssey committee convened in January 2007 with representatives from two ALA divisions, the first joint committee. The award recognizes audiobooks on the same literary tier as the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards. First award winners announced at the Youth Media Awards press conference in January 2008. First award presentation during ALA Annual in Anaheim at the Booklist Forum, June 27th 2008, 8-10 p.m., location to be announced (free, no ticket needed, please attend!).

Beyond the Book

The book is the beginning. Audiobooks are a balancing act between two sides of a seesaw: content and technical production should be equal partners. A truly touchstone audiobook maintains a perfect balance – meaningful content and faultless production values.

Audiobook Lexicon:

Voices in My Head

~The reading should be authentic and appropriate to content, with voices that match the time and place of the text as well as characters’ gender, ages, and moods.

~The reader should use well-placed inflections and tones and convey the meaning of the text through engaging expression, emotion, and energy.

~The reader should maintain and differentiate character voices, accents, or dialects consistently.
~Narrative descriptions ("He murmured," for example) should be read appropriately.

~A single performer may read in a straightforward manner using his or her natural voice with suitable inflection and tone. Or the reader may vary his or her voice to change tone, inflection, accent, and emphasis to represent multiple characters. The reading might also be a combination of the two styles, with major or pivotal characters receiving particular emphasis. Some audios feature multiple narrators taking on specific roles and characters or full cast dramatizations.

Recommended titles: (* notes Odyssey title)
* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows / JK Rowling / Listening Library
Born to Rock / Gordon Korman / Brilliance Audio
Boy Meets Boy / David Levithan / Full Cast Audio
Clementine / Sara Pennypacker / Recorded Books
The Curious Incidence of the Dog in the Night-time / Mark Haddon / Recorded Books
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie / Jordan Sonnenblick / Scholastic Audio
The Girls/ Amy Koss/ Full Cast Audio
So Much to Tell You / James Marsden / Bolinda Audio
Wolf Brother / Michelle Paver / HarperChildren’s Audio

Window to Culture / Reflection of Region

~Cultures and ethnicities are presented authentically and without stereotype.

~Geographic terms, foreign terminology, and other challenging phrases and words should be pronounced correctly and with ease.

~Musical features match the culture and region portrayed.

Recommended titles: (* notes Odyssey title)
* Bloody Jack / L.A. Meyer / Listen & Live Audio
Bindi Babes / Narinder Dhami / Listening Library
Does My Head Look Big in This? / Randa Abdel-Fattah / Bolinda Audio
Homeless Bird / Gloria Whelan / Listening Library
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency / Alexander McCall Smith / Recorded Books
A Pack of Lies / Geraldine McCaughrean / BBC Audiobooks America
The Pot That Juan Built / Weston Woods
The Power of One / Bryce Courtenay / Bolinda Audio
When My Name Was Keoko / Linda Sue Park / Recorded Books
Whale Rider / Witi Ihimaera / Bolinda Audio
Blues Journey / Walter Dean Myers / Live Oak Media
Secret Life of Bees / Sue Monk Kidd / HighBridge Company
Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood / Benjamin Alire Saenz / Recorded Books
To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee / Caedmon
Dairy Queen / Catherine Gilbert Murdock / Listening Library
Bucking the Sarge / Christopher Paul Curtis / Listening Library
Parrot in the Oven / Victor Martinez / Harper Audio

Behind the Booth

~Quality productions maintain a clean, crisp sound that allows for periods of silence and a range of dynamics, without affecting volume levels.

~The recording should be free of sibilant or plosive microphone pick-ups. Distractions result if the reader moves off the microphone, has an overly dry or juicy mouth, or can be heard swallowing.

~Sloppy production may result in titles that are too loud or intense, have missing or repeated text segments, show obvious dubbing or noticeable time differences in recording sessions, or contain abrupt or lengthy chapter or line breaks.

~The packaging should correctly note title, author, and readers’ names as well as accurate running times or notice of abridgement.

~Readalongs (picture book and audio sets) require additional evaluative criteria. Because the intent is for youngsters to follow along with the picture book while listening, there should be no mismatches between the words, pictures, and sound effects. Page turn signals are usually an option and these cues should allow time for young listeners to follow the text and explore the illustrations.

Recommended titles: (* notes Odyssey title)
*Jazz / Walter Dean Myers / Live Oak Media
(Fifteen people worked for five months to produce a 43 minute audiobook!)
Journey of the One & Only Declaration of Independence/Judith St. George/
Weston Woods
Peter and the Starcatchers / Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson / Brilliance Audio
Seven Blind Mice / Ed Young / Weston Woods
The One and Only Shrek / William Steig / Macmillan Young Listeners
The Golden Compass / Philip Pullman / Listening Library

Gifts & Goodies

~Music may be used as an introduction or to delineate mood, setting, or time changes. The background music must be unobtrusive and not interrupt the narrative flow.

~If sound effects are used, they serve to subtly enhance the production, rather than distract.

~Bonus features may include author interviews, critical essays, or other supplemental audio materials.

~Added content may be informational booklets, links to web-based material, games or computer files on disk, or graphic materials such as illustrations or photographs.

Recommended titles: (* notes Odyssey title)
*Dooby Dooby Moo / Doreen Cronin / Weston Woods
*Treasure Island / Robert Louis Stevenson / Listening Library
Eagle of the Ninth / Rosemary Sutcliff / Naxos Audio
Hitler Youth / Susan Campbell Bartoletti / Listening Library
I Am Not Joey Pigza / Jack Gantos / Listening Library
King for Kids / Clayborne Carson, ed. / Hachette Audio
Poets' Corner: The One-and-only Poetry Book for the Whole Family / John Lithgow, ed. / Grand Central Publishing
Revenge of the Whale / Nathaniel Philbrick / Audio Bookshelf
Series of Unfortunate Events / Lemony Snicket / HarperChildren’s Audio
The Wall and the Wing / Laura Ruby/ Brilliance Audio

Breaking the Wall

~The audiobook must stand alone as a fully-realized expression of the author’s intent and meaning.

~The mark of an excellent audiobook is one in which the wall of performance is removed so that listeners fall completely into the audiobook experience.

Recommended titles: (* notes Odyssey title)
*Skulduggery Pleasant / Derek Landy / HarperChildren’s Audio
Before I Die / Jenny Downham /Listening Library
The Book Thief / Markus Zusak / Listening Library
Buddha Boy / Kathe Koja / Full Cast Audio
Dead Fathers Club / Matt Haig / HighBridge Audio
Elijah of Buxton / Christopher Paul Curtis / Listening Library
Keturah and Lord Death / Martine Leavitt / Recorded Books
Lon Po Po / Ed Young / Weston Woods
Private Peaceful / Michael Morpurgo / Recorded Books
The Wee Free Men / Terry Pratchett / HarperChildren’s Audio

Lasso Listeners

Audiobooks allow us to experience the author’s voice mediated through skilled narrators and enhanced by expert production. Listening to books is not reading; it is a different and equally captivating experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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