Reading and Audiobooks

img_7512-html-smlThe SLAV conference, Engaging teen readers, last Friday was very interesting and informative. We had great presentations. Many of the presenters were practising teacher librarians who gave many examples about how they support and encourage reading in their schools. The last session was a panel discussion about the definitions of  “a reader” and  “what constitutes reading” where panelists discussed their ideas. Playing the Devil’s Advocate, I asked the question “Is listening to Audiobooks cheating?” The panel answered and it also got quite a reaction from the floor. It certainly livened up the following discussion when we opened up the discussion to the conference delegates. Their ideas were collected on a Padlet for use later.

Personally, I love listening to audiobooks. I especially appreciate them when I am travelling in the car on long journeys. I particularly like the unabridged versions of novels and also the BBC radio plays.  I still read a lot of print books and I have both versions of the books. Both pique my imagination and I can remember just as much about the book no matter whether I use my eyes or ears. I teach some dyslexic boys who really appreciate having audio as well as text available to them. Digital technologies have made it even easier to support these students with audio as they all have their own personal devices with which to obtain their audiobook.

Some of the links provided/shared supporting audiobooks  were excellent.

One of the infographics I liked is below. It seeks to describe the benefits of audiobooks by debunking some of the myths that circulate. It also offers some ideas that teachers could pick up on and use with their students.

It was published by Learning Ally and We Are Teachers

We Are Teachers offers educators inspiration for lessons as well as professional development resources. Their mission is to promote innovation in education through collaboration and connection to the most effective classroom resources

Learning Ally offers more than 80,000 human-narrated audiobooks through an easy-to-use online platform. Audiobooks are proven to help students with reading disabilities become better readers and learners. Find out more about how Learning Ally helps students with reading disabilities achieve academic success.


Trailers and e-books

I love my illustrated books. Some of my old picture books have such beautiful illustrations. There is now new approach to the classic Alice in Wonderland story… and with a difference, the classic illustrations have been brought to life for the iPad.

This app makes the story interactive. This particular form is not meant to be read sitting still. It can be shaken and turned. There are many interactive elements on the screen to move around, fall down or jump up.  If  you tilt your iPad you can make Alice grow big as a house, or shrink to just six inches tall. It is “odds on” that the kids will love it. I too would love to try it but unfortunately because of the US success the date for the sale of ipads in Australia has been delayed. For now I will just have to make do with this demonstration. I notice that Alice for the iPad is available from the App Store and there is also a free, lite version.

Another beautiful trailer was brought to my notice by my colleague Tania Sheko this week. Neil Gaiman’s journal/blog post, which he labels “just happiness”, he remarks on how happy he is with the result of a collaboration with Charles Vess. In the trailer he is reading his poem Instructions, and Charles Vess illustrations accompanying the words. In the trailer we see the illustrations of Vess developing from pencil drawings to delicate paintings. It is such a whimsical trailer to promote Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s upcoming children’s picture book: Instructions. It really whets my appetite for the book.

This week I was at a conference where there was one session on some ebook options. I have also been discussing the future of eBooks with the adminstration at my school and with other teacher librarians and teachers. We are still really at the beginning of the journey with eBooks and there is no clear direction except that the eBook, in one form or another, is here to stay.

The “old technology” hard-copy book version, that has been around for about 500 years (in its common format) is a well-loved and remarkably robust  invention. I believe that eBooks can happily coexist with the paper versions as do audio books. The eBooks can provide access to a library of books, anywhere, anytime and in a very compact package, great if you are on a long flight for instance. I am beginning to regularly see people on trains checking news headlines on the iPhones. This is great if you have limited space or if you have only few minutes to read. Audio books and podcasts also fulfil a need, especially for visually impaired or if you need a hands-free version of the story. They can, in addition, offer a performance akin to a drama in some instances as with my own BBC radio collection titles.  I regularly listen to podcasts out walking or when I am on long drives on country roads. They are great companions on my journeys.

I have also tried eBooks with some of our students and so far they have no clear preference for one form over the other. It depends on many factors and they are really quite forthcoming about the strengths and weakness of each form. So I believe that the “old” book has little to fear in the near term from the new eBook version. Rather they can happily co-exist and support each other.

E-Books Week, a free audio book and Morris Gleitzman

1898 version

Today I downloaded a free copy of an audio book. This version of Alice in Wonderland was read by  Michael York and was  available, in both mp3 and mp4 formats, from Blackstone Audio.  

The free download of this audio book will be available from Blackstone Audio to listeners worldwide until March 16. Thank you to the CMIS fiction focus site for the information as well as for the news that it is currently E-books week (March 7-13).

I am still catching up with everything this term so I did not know about e-books week until today. It still has a few days to go and there is a list of available offers on this site.

I found some more information about e-book week when reading another post (Genreality) It appears that some of the background to this is:

The week was started by Rita Toews in 2004, the event is designed to “educate and inform the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, vendors, the media and readers world-wide are welcome to join in the effort and are encouraged to promote electronic reading with events of their own. These could include: public readings, library displays, reading challenges, school visits, newspaper and blog articles, chat show appearances, internet radio interviews, e-book give-ways, and website banners.”

There is still time to have a look around at what is out there and what may be of use to us here in Victorian/Australian schools. The options we have when it comes to e-books are certainly less than the US but it is perhaps a way to sample some of what is available.

ALSO – From ABC Perth there is an hour long podcast from Morris Gleitzman’s session where he talks primarily about his book Grace but also about writing and the life of a writer, at the Perth Writers Festival. It can be found here. He is always a very articulate writer and when you can listen to him, without distractions, it is another podcast worth listening to and sharing.

Useful Links (weekly)



Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful Links (weekly)


Uploaded to Flickr by CanadianAEh

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.