Audio book as an art form

I have been sitting and staring at a blank page, and toggling back to Twitter, Facebook, and BBC news for the past thirty minutes. Let’s be honest; I have repeated this useless process several times in the last couple of months.

I have been somewhat distracted by… work.

I know I have a lot to write about, but whatever it is, it has yet to make itself clear. And yet, I miss writing. It is a hole, an ache, even.

I am going to use the “write anyway” strategy and see what pops up.

One thing on my mind is the issue of audio books and whether they ‘count’ for the independent reading portion of our courses.

I was thinking about it the other day when I ran into a blog, Caution: Use as Directed, a blog by Jane Kise about  the reading of, rather than the viewing of, Shakespeare.

as intended

It got me thinking about the audiobook as an art form, and the telling of story as an oral language activity in its own right. Of course, I have always read to my high school classes, and I am a good reader, so my son tells me. He’s pretty good himself.

I also use audio books for anchor texts in my classroom. One the favourites at our school in Grade 9 is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Alexie reads it himself, brilliantly, and we all read along because of the funny and brutally honest comics that are scattered through the book. Another author who also reads some of his books is Neil Gaimon, and I have used all or parts of Odd and the Frost Giants and The Graveyard Book.

Audio books are so gorgeous these days. They are sometimes acted (read?) by an ensemble cast, as in Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori series where the male role is read by Kevin Gray and the female role is read by Aiko Nakasone. Sometimes, the voices of many characters are acted by a single narrator, as in Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider read brilliantly by Brendan Fraser.

But. When we get to our desire to have students read independently, do we ‘count’ audio books? My book-lover, story-lover self says, A book, no matter whether the student reads it her or himself, is still a story that got told, a story  that got heard. The reading teacher in me says, They have to read. They have to read. How else will they learn to read? 

Where are you on this one? What are your favourite audio books for high school?

Now, I better go make breakfast. And, truth-be-told, get on with my semester-end assessments that are waiting and the real reason for this Sunday morning procrastination!


Tackling Darcy’s list, number 4

A colleague sent me the link to this blog by Darcy Moore. A quick read through, and I feel pretty good about the list. However, I think I will tackle them one at a time, in no particular order. After all, I am trying to blog every day and I am always looking for things to think and write about.

Here’s what Darcy wrote:

I have never had a parent ask me any of the questions listed below, except, perhaps, the one about ‘happiness’ in a number of guises. I wish someone would.

How would your child’s teachers fare if asked these questions:

1. What is your educational philosophy?

2. How are you assisting our child to become a self-directed learner?

3. What professional reading are you undertaking at the moment?

4. What are you reading for fun?

5. How do you use technology as a tool to leverage learning in the classroom?

6. What online resources have you created for your class?

7. How do you assist students to learn about digital citizenship?

8. What professional networks and associations are you involved with regularly?

9. What observations can you offer about our child’s happiness at school?

10. What reflections can you make about our child’s growth as a learner and citizen this year?

I am really tired tonight, so I am going to take the easy one first. (I’ll regret this, since I am sure I will have days when I am more tired.)

4. What are you reading for fun?

Not much gets read for fun during the school year. I consider fun in this context to mean content I am reading even though it is NOT connected to the curriculum I am teaching. Because I teach Social Studies and English, I am always looking for texts to support essential questions and units.

I have to say, though, that I have lots of fun reading anyway. Lately, I read Twitter, and all the links it brings me to. I guess that answers parts of numbers 8 and 4 as well, because I follow educators on Twitter and get to read their blogs, their ideas, their conversations, their links to news stories. I visit Twitter the way I used to visit Facebook. Several times a day.

When I do read, I listen. I have a membership to Audible books. That way, I can do laundry, do the dishes, make dinner, walk the dog. Free, lay on the couch, stuff my nose in a book time is hard to come by. I cracked open an actual, real novel that someone had left in the staff room yesterday while I was waiting for my family to come and meet me for dinner. I had a blast of…NOSTALGIA! Sheesh, this has gone on too long. I set a goal to read a real book, and not let the internet drag me away.

Recently, I listened to all of Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori series, because I am teaching the Middle Ages. They were good, especially in audio. Always in search of YA literature, I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I recommend both.

I started but stalled on The Dovekeepers. That one was just for me. I need to get back to it.

Really, there is no way to separate what I read for fun and what I read for school. I do have to say that Twitter has become less -fun- with all the nonsense that is going on. It will pass. I have faith. I may be wrong.

Of course, I could be reading during the commercials instead of blogging, but hey.