professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Little things mean a lot

Readers of the blog know that I read with my ears as I drive to and from work and errands and the like.  Some folks are critical of audio and believe listening to books is somehow "cheating."  I can assure you that listening requires active attention to the narrative.  And since I am serving as chair of the 2013 Odyssey Committee, I have my "Odyssey ears" on whenever I am listening.  I developed those ears years ago when I served on the first ever Odyssey Committee (Best. Committee. Ever.), and I cannot listen without them any longer.  I am not listening only for the specific criteria for the Odyssey, I also have observed that, as I listen, I hear little things, things that might have escaped my attention if I were simply reading the book.

For instance, this morning a phrase simply jumped out at me.  It had to do with ropes made from kudzu vines.  If I were reading this, I suspect the phrase might have registered to some degree.  But listening to this somehow clicked.  I saw the vines clearly, saw how the ropes must look and how they would function.  Was it key to the book?  Probably not.  What this did, though, was show me the care the author took with tiny details, details that brought the landscape, the setting to life4.  Made it more real, more vivid.

I recall lots of examples of this.  My favorite was a few years ago as I was listening to Terry Pratchett's NATION early one morning on the way to work.  At one point, this observation: it was like a Jane Austen novel but with fewer clothes.  I snorted and began laughing aloud.  The guys in the truck next to me at the red light swiveled their heads.  I suspect they were searching for someone else in the car with me.  Nope, just this crazy old lady laughing out loud.  They crept forward, moving away from me I guess.

I am not suggesting, of course, that I do not see these little things in traditional text or eBooks.  I do.  But I wonder if sometimes some of the little things are better caught with eyes or perhaps ears? No answer here, but an intriguing question, I think.  And I also wonder if, instead of repeated re-readings for CCSS close reading, we might substitute read alouds and audio and e formats?  Perhaps kids will find more? I am not advocating reading something over and over again, though.  I do that only when I am serving on selection committees when we get down to that final list to consider.  However, if teachers (and therefore kids) are being forced to read more than once, how about adding a different medium into the mix?
Tags: audio, awareness, details, ebooks, words
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