June/July 2020

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Audiobooks and Literacy Self-Learning the Audiobook Way In a social distancing world, students from kindergarten to college are trying their hand at homeschooling and self-learning to finish out the school year. All of the following audiobooks can be used as a foundation for building a study unit or for starting a conversation with your students about the topic at hand, particularly for listeners from young teens on up. Forget those weighty biology textbooks and learn about the human body the fun way. First up is Bill Bryon's The Body: A Guide for Occupants. This author-read audiobook takes us on a grand tour of ourselves, from the inside out. Anatomy and physiology have never been more enjoyable. If you're looking for a more focused look at human biology, then Mary Roach's Gulp is the audiobook for you. Narrator Emily Woo Zeller leads us through this fas- cinating and often astounding journey through our body from mouth to, um, well, the other end. You'll learn about digestion, nutrition, and even bizarre food customs. For a unit in anthropology and/or art history, I recommend Stepping Stones: A Journey Through the Ice Age Caves of the Dordogne by Christine Desdemaines- Hugon, a well-respected expert on prehistoric cave art. The audiobook, read by Anne Flosnik, focuses on five caves in France, providing detailed descriptions of the art; putting it in con- text of human history, technology, and spirituality; and comparing the style to twentieth-century artists and art move- ments. Though the audiobook does not come with a downloadable PDF of the cave paintings, images can be found on the Internet and at Desdemaines- Hugon's Web site. A good narrator can help bring his- tory alive, elevating it from a series of dry facts into a fascinating and engaging story. Here are two recom- mended audiobooks for an American history course. Martin Sandler's 1919: The Year That Changed America recounts the groundbreaking events that occurred in the year after World War I and in the aftermath of the great flu pandemic. Narrator Jeff Harding ably guides us through this National Book Award-winning story of a year marked by women's suf- frage, racial violence, labor protests, nationalist movements, and the start of Prohibition. Some of these same issues are still relevant 100 years later. Big Wonderful Thing by Stephen Harrigan is all about the state of Texas: its landscape, personalities, wars, politics, and indigenous popula- tions. This sweeping history is made all the better in the hands of narrator George Guidall, who keeps us glued to our earbuds as we learn about what makes the Lone Star State unique and important to America. Although none of these audiobooks comes with accompanying teaching materials, a quick Internet search will readily pull up maps, illustrations, photos, and other supplementary information to use for homeschool- ing. Parents and self-directed students of all ages may be surprised at how easy it is to learn when they start with a good audiobook. By Candace Levy 68 n AudioFile/ More Listening THE BODY: A Guide for Occupants Bill Bryson, read by Bill Bryson Random House Audio Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD, DD Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD GULP: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal Mary Roach, read by Emily Woo Zeller Tantor Media Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD, MP3, DD Library Ed.: CD STEPPING-STONES: A Journey Through the Ice Age Caves of the Dordogne Christine Desdemaines-Hugon, read by Anne Flosnik Tantor Media Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD 1919: The Year That Changed America Martin W. Sandler, read by Jeff Harding Bloomsbury Publishing Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD BIG WONDERFUL THING Stephen Harrigan, read by George Guidall Recorded Books Unabridged Library Ed.: CD, DD

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