AudioFile

December 2017/January 2018

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Audiobooks and Literacy Explore Behind the Microphone for Lifetime Possibilities Over the past two decades, American education has reduced teens' exposure to careers they might find engaging and worthy of pursuit without a post-high school degree. As a result, many high school students would be hard pressed to name more than a dozen career options open to them, even though they may already possess both skills and interests that speak to over a thou- sand different job types. Partly in response to the disappear- ance of vocational education, and partly to feed autodidacts hungry to pursue a variety of maturing interests, libraries have invested in makerspace areas where community members come to "do stuff." The "doing" might be sewing, robotics, recording, or any of a host of activities, while the "stuff" could range from yarn to ukuleles. Likewise, community theater groups offer activities that give nascent actors, dramatists, directors, and backstage helpers a chance to follow their inter- ests. Social media platforms, including YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr, enable budding writers, artists, and photographers to reveal their creative projects and get important feedback that encourages developing skills. Audiobooks can be a great catalyst in the search for new interests and possible career paths. In addition to their content, high-quality audio- books lead us to appreciate the several skills beyond the writing that have gone into them: acting, voice training, recording, sound engineer- ing, and more—not to mention the publishing and marketing and pub- licity skills that get them into the ears of consumers. Young people already interested in pursuing literary and performance arts can learn a lot by listening to a range of narrators. And because many narrators spend a lot of time and attention on new content before they record it, they also serve as model autodidacts themselves. The Audio Publishers Association supports an initiative called Sound Learning that helps parents, teachers, librarians, and the general public access research in multimodal literacy and how learning to listen impacts both read- ing skills and civic engagement. It is a volunteer-driven effort benefiting from the work of audiobook-savvy librarians, youth-savvy audiobook publishers, and narrators who are also experienced as teachers and coaches. At the website (soundlearningapa.org), you can find carefully selected and regularly updated lists of audiobooks for children and teens of various ages, stages, and inter- ests. (Most of the listed audiobooks connect to AudioFile reviews.) Now, Sound Learning has added the opportunity for classes and library groups to sign up for a free Skype session with one of several profes- sional audiobook narrators. This chance to interact with a narrator is a great resource for groups of adults or groups of teens, providing: • Personal exposure to career options in acting, publishing, or audio production • Evidence that reading skills and literacy interests apply to employability • Awareness of the inclusive capacity that is apparent in the audiobook performance job market By Francisca Goldsmith Audiobooks can be a great catalyst in the search for new interests and possible career paths. Because narrators spend a lot of time and attention on new content before they record it, they also serve as model autodidacts themselves. 68 n AudioFile/www.audiofilemagazine.com • Diverse opportunities for inter- acting with literature and finding intriguing and helpful information Meeting a narrator on Skype may be just the moment that opens a young person's mind to skills and interests never considered before. And because professional narrators embody the concept that reading widely encour- ages both growth and options, these Skype sessions might lead to many a future vocation or avocation. In addition to exploring Sound Learning's website and offerings, do share the nonfiction audiobook recom- mendations (opposite) with teens in your life. While most were published for the adult market, all are accessible and should appeal to teens who want to know more and push themselves to refine what they already understand. The chance to interact with a narrator is a great resource for groups of adults or groups of teens At www.SoundLearningAPA.org you'll find a complete literacy toolkit for teaching with audio- books at three different levels, lesson plans ready to use, and carefully chosen annotated lists of audiobooks for K through 12, and a bonus list of adult titles for teens—with sound clips and book covers. SoundLearningAPA.org

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