professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Ears On?

How I coveted those Mickey Mouse ears worn so fashionably by the club members. By the time I actually had the chance to own a pair, they were not nearly so cool. However, I have some new ears that will not ever become "uncool." Those are my Odyssey ears. I was fortunate enough to be a member of the first ever Odyssey Committee, a joint committee of ALSC and YALSA of ALA charged with coming up with the best audiobook for PK-12. I entered that committee room thinking I knew it all. After all, I was listening to audiobooks; I had written about audioboks. Who could know more? EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. IN. THE. ROOM. I was surrounded by experts on a committee chaired by Mary Burkey who knew and knows so much about audiobooks that she should be declared its goddess. I learned so much that year of deliberations. It was the BEST. COMMITTEE. EVER. We became sisters, And we came to marvel at how much every single person had to contribute.

someone from the outside might view this as an "easy" task: listen to a bunch of audios and them select a winner. Those of us who have served on this committee know the facts. I served as chair of the 2013 committee. We received hundreds (yes, plural) of audios. Each submission was reviewed by at least 2 listeners. We narrowed from hundreds to dozens and finally to the final 25 or so we would discuss during our final FTF deliberations. From those hundreds emerged THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, the winning title, plus GHOST KNIGHT, ARTEMIS FOWL: THE LAST GUARDIAN, and MONSTROUS BEAUTY as the honor titles.

How did we winnow down the choices? We applied all manner of criteria. Questions we considered included terms like sibilance, plosives, juicy mouth, attributives, and more. There is a definite terminology we use in discussing audiobooks. For some insight into those terms, go here: for an audiobook lexicon. Imagine bringing in one of the latest Odyssey winners or an Amazing Audiobook or a Notable Recordings and playing a piece for the kids and then asking them to apply one or two or more of these terms. My BH is becoming adept at things such as sibilance and juicy mouth/dry mouth. He can catch a new recording day immediately. In short, he is now someone who can understand what separates good from great.

Need some more resources? Read Mary's book, AUDIOBOOKS FOR YOUTH ( or Sharon Grover's Listening to Learn ( Sharon was a member of the original Odyssey and chaired the committee as well. Mary Burkey also has a regular online column for BOOKLIST called Audiobooker. Here is a link to a recent post: Be sure to tune in for Freebie Fridays!

Finally, do not miss this chance for FREE (yes FREE FREE FREE) YA audio downloads each summer through Sync: Each week, a classic and a contemporary title are available for download. Any of your students with smart devices can enjoy 2 books each and every week! Don some Odyssey ears and join in. More posts to come about narrators, lists, and more.
Tags: audio, reading with my ears

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