AudioFile

February/March 2018

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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both fiction and nonfiction, print and audio. Think about the last time you read (with your eyes) an absorbing piece of writing in silence. Was the silence internal as well? Probably not, because reading fine writing switches our awareness of language into a gear setting that evokes an inner voice, however subliminal or unrefined that may be. By adding the component of a professional voice, that of the audiobook narrator, our awareness of vocabulary and prosody aspects of the written text is given a full head of steam. We no longer lose our way in the weeds of uncertainty about how a word sounds or how the clauses of a sentence fit together to maintain the writer's meaning. Whether you are a librarian, a teacher, a student, an office supervisor, a therapist, or a caregiver, storytelling is most likely part of your everyday com- munications. The same is true in our social lives. Gathered around a dinner table, chatting in a break room, meet- ing for coffee, we humans naturally connect through stories. So why not get a bit better at telling them? Fortunately, we have an abundance of audiobook narrations that model the fine art and popular practice of storytelling. And by drawing on these resources, not only can we better appreciate the storytellers, but we gain the potential for improving our own communication skill sets. Some well- told stories opposite can get you started on the path to proficient storytelling of your own. Adults are invited to use any of the books listed for youth as potential models themselves, and to recommend them to their target audience. Audiobooks and Literacy Invitations to Connect through Storytelling An ancient art practiced many times a day in homes and most workplaces is that of the storyteller. Teachers guide students into lessons in lab sciences and mathematics, as well as social studies and, of course, language arts, by setting them on a track of discovery by asking questions that illuminate an underlying story: What happens when these two liq- uids are combined? What might be revealed when you multiply the two sides of this shape? What proved to be the tipping point in Alabama's elec- tion of a Democrat to the U.S. Senate? How long did it take John Boyne to write the first draft of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? (In case you didn't know, two and a half days). Librarians also use abbreviated sto- rytelling when they share a potential book, movie, or other media choice with someone seeking satisfying advice. And, of course, business exec- utives, publicity agents, advertising creatives, and salespeople employ sto- rytelling to move a product or service. Being a competent storyteller comes naturally to some people. However, to become a truly compelling one can take some coaching and modeling. And who better to learn from than audiobook narrators? They are experts in this field, deploying pacing, tone, and timbre to convey the words, but also to impart the underlying sto- ries of character depth, historical or regional pronunciations, and which passages are most urgent for the lis- tener to understand and take note of. Anyone and everyone who wants to become a better storyteller in their lives can find support in the audio- book medium. That doesn't mean that anyone and everyone can become an audiobook narrator; that's not the lit- eracy goal here. Instead, the goal is to become more aware of and attentive to the ways narrators use their sto- rytelling skills to illuminate text and connect with an audience. Whether the story you have to tell is about fractions, a medical diagnosis, or fire suppression techniques, you have this goal, too: You want to make yourself heard, understood, and appreciated by your audience. Of course, artful word choice and semantics matter a lot for a story to be both convincing and compelling. That's why we love well-crafted sto- ries bound up in books of all kinds, By Francisca Goldsmith Being a competent story- teller comes naturally to some people. However, to become a truly compelling one can take some coaching and modeling. Fortunately, we have an abundance of audiobook narrations that model the fine art and popular practice of storytelling. 68 n AudioFile/www.audiofilemagazine.com

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