Wednesday, March 03, 2010

of audiobooks and read-alouds...

So...I'm sitting at work reading the first in color edition of Horn Book magazine. WOW! And at once, I'm entranced, drawn in to read a magazine I've loved since I discovered it, who knows when. Any children's librarian worth her mettle knows about Horn Book, but just in case you haven't, it's like the New Yorker. For children's books. It is all about children's books. A lot of its real estate is taken up by reviews, but there are also scholar-level essays about (in this issue) why color is important. Or comparing Anita Curtis Klause's vampire novel, The Silver Kiss, to the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series.

And then I'm sucked into an article called, "What makes a good read-aloud for middle graders?" in the "What makes a good...?" series. And all at once, I'm taken back to fourth grade, when Mrs. Medina read us Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Which was the real accelerator to my reading career. I had to read everything Judy Blume had written. It was 1980, and I was living overseas, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I had one bookstore that had English language books, and a library with a not so current collection. Judy Blume hadn't even written Tiger Eyes yet. Or Super Fudge. But she had written Starring Sally J. Freedman as herself,* and Deenie, and Then Again, Maybe I won't, and of course, Are you there God, it's me, Margaret. My friends and I gobbled each one, whole. We didn't get all the stuff that parents balk at, because generally, if we didn't understand a bit, we skipped over it. I actually did a research paper on Judy Blume in high school, had to get special permission, because she was a children's author, everyone else was writing about Hemingway, or Dickens. I never got to most of adult reading. I've been stuck in the children's section ever since. (My love for chick lit aside.)

But I've gotten ahead of myself.

I adore audio books. Adore. Sometimes I prefer the audio to the printed copy of the book.

And what is an audio book, but a book read aloud, sometimes by the author?

I must think about this more. But for now, I'll leave you with that. I am dumbfounded that I never made the connection before.

A quote from the Horn Book article:

"Reading picture books aloud to younger children is common practice--teachers during the school day, parents at bedtime. But reading aloud in the middle grades is less widespread. Once children start reading on their own, the demands of curriculum, testing, and the ever more splintered schedule cause teachers to abandon the practice. What a loss! At every age, listening to someone reading aloud is a gift." (66)

*I remember having an argument with a friend about the pronunciation of that title. It's pronounced "staring," I insisted. My friend was from the South, and I said only stuck up people would pronounce it with a long a sound. (This is what comes from NOT reading aloud to your children, people.)

McDonnell, Christine, "What makes a good read-aloud for middle grades," Horn Book Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010: 66-72. Print.

Note (a day later, after this was initially posted): when I shared my epiphany with my boss, a children's librarian of many decades, and a bonified storyteller, she almost but not quite said, well, doy! Which made me realize that it's been FOREVER since someone besides Jim Collins or Malcolm Gladwell or any number of amazing audio book readers have read aloud to me. My favorite audio book as a child was "Mouse Soup" by Arnold Lobel. My dad read many fairy tales to me (my favorite being, no surprise here, Cinderella.) But as I do not have a husband/boyfriend in my life to read to me, and no children to read to (aside from the Mother Goose crowd), for me, it was an epiphany. I said to her, "it's been a long time since someone has read aloud to me." And she said, "That makes me sad." (or similar words.) (Memoir writing--where we don't always remember the words, but the sense of them.)

Le sigh. But we move on.

1 comment:

Helen said...

Interesting! I listen to a lot of audio books and never thought about the relationship to being read to as a child. Mostly, I just multitask with audio books. It is really hard to quilt, or cook, or DRIVE while reading with my eyes!