Monday, August 4, 2008

International Association of School Librarians Conference: Beyond the Book Session Notes

Why audiobooks? Listening…

Increases fluency

Expands listening skills

Raises reading comprehension

Enlarges vocabulary

Boosts pronunciation skills

Supports struggling readers

Expands literature experiences for proficient readers

Improves test scores

Increased fluency & interpretation

Expert readers model fluent inflection & enunciation within the story’s narrative flow

Narrator’s voice reveals punctuation, accents, dialects, and cultural vocal patterns

Listeners hear the story through another reader’s voice, gaining deeper meaning

Audiobooks provide opportunity

Comprehension level when listening is often two years above reading level, allowing struggling readers, English Language Learners, and those with learning differences to join the community of readers through audiobooks alone or when paired with text.

Building a community of readers

Audiobooks allow all students access to classroom literature

Time with text = high vocabulary

Audiobook review sources

AudioFile Magazine

Book Links


Horn Book


Library Journal

Publisher’s Weekly

School Library Journal


Starting an audiobook collection

Choose “whole class” Language Arts titles first

Survey resource teachers for titles & topics

Decide on interfiled or separate shelving

Piggyback with Title 1 or other funding groups

Seek grants from PTO or education foundations

Marketing your audiobooks

Hook teachers first – survey to see where a need is perceived

Include audiobooks in displays & booktalks

Purchase circulating players & rechargeable batteries

Hold CD ripping, MP3 loading & public library downloading workshops

Create a listening club

Parents as audiobook partners

Create pre-holiday break or open house displays of family-friendly audiobooks for travel time listening

Highlight your audiobook collection in parent newsletters along with research data on audiobooks

Provide audiobook + large print material lists

Purchase audiobook titles to supplement parent/child book clubs

Making audiobooks part of the curriculum

Hook teachers with a long commute on audiobooks

Lobby for audiobooks fulfilling teacher’s reading assignment quotas

Have audiobook research reports at-hand

Include audiobooks in pathfinders, summer reading lists, and classroom topic collections.

Achieving Content Standards with Audiobooks


Students identify significant contributions of composers and performers to our music heritage.

Music Connections

What Charlie Heard / Live Oak Media ~ Readalong biography of composer Charles Ives brings to life all of the sounds described and illustrated on the page.

Dramatic Arts

Students analyze the creative techniques used in creating and performing dramatic/theatrical works and evaluate dramatic/theatrical works using appropriate criteria

Dramatic Arts Connections

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village / Recorded Books ~ This Newbery-winning title was written to be performed as Reader’s Theater, as modeled by the full cast of narrators.

Visual Arts

Students understand the impact of visual art on the history, culture, and society from which it emanates.

Visual Arts Connections

The Pot That Juan Built / Weston Woods ~ Mexican potter Juan Quezada’s artistic process is revealed in a multilayered readalong for all ages.

Social Studies

Students use knowledge of the purposes, structures and processes of political systems at the local, state, national and international levels to understand that people create systems of government as structures of power and authority to provide order, maintain stability and promote the general welfare.

Social Studies Connections

Revenge of the Whale / Audio Bookshelf ~

Mesmerizing factual narrative with period sea shanties as musical accompaniment.


Students demonstrate an understanding of different historical perspectives, scientific approaches and emerging scientific issues associated with the life sciences.

Science Connections

The Adoration of Jenna Fox / Macmillan Audio ~ Listeners will explore the issues of medical ethics, organ transplants, and the very concept of human existence.

Foreign Language

Students demonstrate an understanding of insights gained into another culture through the examination of its practices (behaviors), products (tangibles such as monuments, food and literature, and intangibles such as laws and music) and perspectives (attitudes, values, ideas, world views).

Foreign Language Connections

Chato’s Kitchen / Live Oak Media ~ Narrator Willie Colon voice and authentic background music provide the perfect Latino cultural flavor to this title.


Students demonstrate number sense, including an understanding of number systems and operations and how they relate to one another.

Mathematics Connections

How Much is a Million? / Weston Woods ~ Audio and illustrations combine to illuminate the concept of large numbers.


Students use computer and multimedia resources to support their learning

Identify what information is, and recognize that it can be represented in a variety of ways

Technology Connections

Frankenstein / Tantor Media ~ Tantor’s Unabridged Classics series includes both the audiobook read by a top narration plus the entire book as a PDF file that may be read on computer or hand-held reader, allowing full-text search & print capabilities.

Language Arts

Students define and investigate self-selected or assigned issues, topics and problems. They locate, select and make use of relevant information from a variety of media, reference and technological sources.

Language Arts Connections

Duck for President / Weston Woods ~ A title that can be enjoyed by all ages and at many levels, made even more enjoyable by Randy Travis’ witty narration & musical accompaniment.

Language Arts

Students acquire vocabulary through exposure to language-rich situations, such as reading books and other texts and conversing with adults and peers.

Language Arts Connections

Blues Journey / Like Oak Media ~ A stunning readalong that recreates the title, adding original blues music, with the poem that trace the history of the Blues sung as lyrics.

Evaluating Audiobooks

Use the titles below to model the bulleted evaluative benchmarks

The Narrator as Author’s Voice

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 Award 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

Ish / Peter Reynolds / Weston Woods

Rotten Ralph Helps Out / Jack Gantos / Live Oak Media

So Much to Tell You / James Marsden / Bolinda Audio

Wolf Brother / Michelle Paver / HarperChildren’s Audio

Window to Culture / Reflection of Region

Cultures & 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 Award title)

* Bloody Jack / L.A. Meyer / Listen & Live Audio

Bindi Babes / Narinder Dhami / Listening Library

The Cay / Theodore Taylor / 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 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: Production Quality

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 Award title)

*Jazz / Walter Dean Myers / Live Oak Media

(Fifteen people worked for five months to produce the Odyssey Award-winning 43 minute audiobook!)

Journey of the One & Only Declaration of Independence / Judith St. George / Weston Woods

The Goose Girl / Shannon Hale / Full Cast Audio

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: Audio Extras

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 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 Award title)

*Dooby Dooby Moo / Doreen Cronin / Weston Woods

*Treasure Island / Robert Louis Stevenson / Listening Library

Eagle of the Ninth / Rosemary Sutcliff / Naxos Audio

Fairest / Gail Carson Levine / Full Cast Audio

Hitler Youth / Susan Campbell Bartoletti / Listening Library

I Am Not Joey Pigza / Jack Gantos / Listening Library

The Invention of Hugo Cabret / Brian Selznick / Scholastic Audiobooks

King for Kids / Clayborne Carson, ed. / Hachette Audio

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel / Virginia Lee Burton / Magic Maestro Music

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

When Marian Sang / Pam Munoz Ryan / Live Oak Media

Breaking the Wall: The Art of the Audiobook

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 Award title)

*Skulduggery Pleasant / Derek Landy / HarperChildren’s Audio

Before I Die / Jenny Downham /Listening Library

Day of Tears / Julius Lester / Recorded Books

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

I, Coriander / Sally Gardner / 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

Presented by Mary Burkey & Francisca Goldsmith, August 4, 2008

1 comment:

Sylvia Vardell said...

Mary and Francisca,
Thanks for sharing these STUPENDOUS notes! Sounds like you rocked the IASL conference. Wish I could be there. Enjoy yourselves--