April/May 2012

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Classroom Audio Communities Listening to Learn Much is said in schools about creating "classroom communities." Loosely defined, this means that the adults and children who share each other's company, experiences, and physical space for a school year work together to create a safe and welcoming environment. How important audiobooks can be in creating that sense of community! When audiobooks are available for whole-class, individual, and small-group listening, insights into problem-solving, situations of conflict, differing points of view, use of language, and the power of personality in determining a life path, for starters, become part of the common experience for the classroom community. Meaningful reference can be made to these audiobooks—to the stories themselves, to the characters, and to the writers' craft. With younger children, having reference characters adds greatly to any discussion topic. The early reader literature (think Frog and Toad) is especially rich at this time with characters such as Mouse and Mole or Houndsley and Catina. From the give-and-take between the characters, students come to appreciate the negotiation necessary in any friendship. In upper elementary grades, students relish chapter book characters. Betty Birney's character Humphrey is an astute observer of the classroom scene who can humor children into discussing class- room issues. As students have the opportunity to hear about the experiences of other people—fictional and real—it adds a new dimension to thinking about their own lives. Once books like Young Pelé or Ruth and the Green Book are common knowledge in a classroom, conversations can be built around them.—Ann Ritchie HOUNDSLEY AND CATINA: PLINK AND PLUNK James Howe Read by Peter Pamela Rose As the two friends Houndsley and Catina delve into canoeing, biking, and swimming, something seems to be hindering their friendship. Houndsley doesn't care for Catina's constant chatter in the canoe, and Catina wonders why she's never had Houndsley's compan- ionship while biking. How do you say no to a friend or let a friend know that you're nervous? With the help of two more friends, Bert and Mimi, things start to change. Peter Pamela Rose enthusiastically characterizes the animal friends. She delivers a deep, slow voice for Houndsley and a high- pitched, animated one for Catina. Rose's enunciation is precise, and she narrates at a deliberate pace that is perfect for young listeners. A.R. Live Oak Media 13 mins. Unabridged Ages 4-6 Book & Recording: CD ISBN 9781430109693 $18.95 ABRACADABRA!: Magic with Mouse and Mole Wong Herbert Yee Read by Michele O. Medlin Two tickets to the magic show of Mincus the Magnificent bring friends Mouse and Mole together again. Mole's passion for magic is dashed when the magician's table is upset and the methods behind the tricks are revealed. Later Mother Nature and Mouse change Mole's per- ception of what "real" magic is. Michele O. Medlin brings bravado to these short chapters. Whether Mincus, Mole, or Mouse, Medlin speaks with flair and mystery. She uses elongation and speed to bring freshness to each "abracadabra" and "poof." Mole's "bravos" to tricks well done are as heartfelt as his "phooeys" to magic gone wrong. As narrator, Medlin is unobtrusive and leisurely, and her emphasis of Yee's repetitive phrasing helps unite the text. A.R. Recorded Books 15 mins. Unabridged Ages 4-6 Library Ed.: CD (also CS , DD ISBN 9781456135263 $15.75 ) 30 s AudioFile/ RUTH AND THE GREEN BOOK Calvin A. Ramsey, Gwen Strauss Read by Cherise Boothe Ruth's family buys their first car—a 1952 mist-green Buick—and sets out from Chicago to her grandmother's in Alabama. Ruth's initial excitement is huge as the trip heads into the green of the suburbs and family members share stories. But her feelings change to dismay and confusion when the family is turned away from restrooms and motels as the trip continues. Then, with a newly purchased Green Book in hand, Ruth and her family take control of their outing. Cherise Boothe's gentle narration takes a backseat to the story's characters and events. Boothe's voice is calm, her pacing deliberate, her enun- ciation distinct—a totally pleasing package. The production concludes with additional information about the Green Book and Jim Crow laws. A.R. Recorded Books 15 mins. Unabridged Ages 6+ Library Ed.: CD (also CS , MP3 ISBN 9781461843559 $15.75 )

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