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Monday, March 16, 2009

Audiobooks with Mary Burkey of Audiobooker



     Last, but certainly not least... Mary Burkey of Audiobooker shared such valuable information for my Share a Story - Shape a Life: Technology and Reading - What the Future Holds post, I had to share the entire interview.
     Mary is a National Board Certified Teacher-Librarian, past chair of the American Library Association's Notable Children's Recordings, was part of the Odyssey Award Task Force, served as the chair of the ALA's firs Odyssey Aaward for Excellence in Audiobook Production, and somehow manages to author the popular blog, Audiobooker which is syndicated at Booklist Online.

Q.     How have you found most people use and enjoy audio books (including yourself)?

A.     Everyone has their own personal listening style. I became an audiobook
listener when I was pursuing National Board Certification as a
teacher-librarian. I have always been a compulsive reader, and never felt I
was a good listener. I disliked talk radio and was a poor listener to
teachers when in school (just give me the textbook!). As part of the process
of examining my practice as a school librarian for National Boards, I
decided to put myself in the shoes of students who are not natural readers,
yet must check out books from the library. But for me, that was to listen to
books rather than read. So I began to review audiobooks in a professional
journal - I knew that I would never finish listening to one otherwise! I
discovered that you can learn how to listen, and discover your own style. I
cannot sit still and listen to audiobooks; I will just pick up any printed
material nearby, and forget to listen. But if I am busy with an automatic
task - the daily commute, cooking, walking the dog, working out - I
experience literature in a whole new way with audiobooks. As a very fast
reader, I gulp print books. But the audiobook slows me down (something I had
to get used to), and I gain an entirely different appreciation of the book.
But other audiobook listeners like to listen as they fall asleep in a dark
room. And when I surveyed my middle school students, I learned that many
play audiobooks on the computer in their room, watching the Media Player
visualizations as they zone out and listen, escaping from the world. To each
their own!

Q.     Have there been any uses that have surprised you?

A.     One fact that often amazes people is that voracious audiobook listeners are usually also voracious readers, and that teens are the fast growing segment
of listeners. Find out lots of interesting facts about audiobook listeners
in the Audio Publishers Association's annual survey - .pdf.
     I once had an eighth-grade girl come into my library and ask me to recommend a good audiobook that had some "real-life issues that girls have to deal with." She wanted to listen in the car with her mom, as "mom really doesn't
have a clue what it's actually like in school today." I started her off with
the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Listening Library), and mother &
daughter spent the rest of the school year listening and talking throughout
the daily errands. Once a seventh-grade young man asked for a great action
audiobook to share in the car with his dad and granddad for a guys-only
camping trip, and Skulduggery Pleasant (HarperAudio) served to create
cross-generation bonds. Right now, the guidance counselor at my school is
planning a lunch-group of girls that will be dealing with the issue of
female aggression. She will be playing the audiobook of The Girls (Full Cast
Audio) as a listen-aloud while the girls eat, then they will discuss the
choices and actions of the characters. Here's a link to more on family
listening from my audiobook column "Voices in My Head" in the American
Library Association's Book Links magazine
.

Q.     Do you feel listening is reading?

A.     No, I don't feel that listening to audiobooks is reading - but it isn't
cheating either! In today's world, we often overlook the listening component
of Language Arts. By integrating audiobooks into a literacy program,
students increase vocabulary, gain fluency, hear how phrasing and intonation
results from punctuation, and experience authentic accents and dialects. As
a student's listening comprehension is usually two years above her reading
comprehension, audiobooks level the playing field in the classroom. If you'd
like an extensive list of both print and online research and resources on
the benefits of audiobooks, here's link to my blog post found on Booklist Online.

Q.     What do you feel are the best ways for people to get their hands on Audiobooks? Should they go straight to a company like iTunes, Audible, or their library, or should they go straight to the producer of the audio books?

A.     Of course, as a librarian, I recommend heading to your public (or school!) library - but in fact, you don't actually need to leave home. Many public libraries have downloadabled audiobooks available through their web site. If you haven't checked out the public library's site for awhile, take a look -
you might be surprised at the amount of audiobooks you can download! Plus,
there are growing numbers of iPod-compatible downloads. But you'll have the
best luck downloading to a Windows-based MP3 player. I bought an inexpensive
one just for audiobook downloads - here's a shopping suggestion list.
     And if you are buying an audiobook, consider buying right from the
producer's website in these difficult economic times, boosting the bottom
line. You'll find links to producer's sites on my blog's sidebar.

Q.     Are there distinctions within the audiobook market people should know about - such as full dramatizations versus abridged readings, etc.?

A.     I am a firm believer in only unabridged audiobooks for children and young adults. There are many styles of audiobook production. I suggest listening to a variety of producers, as most have a "house style." Just as readers
tend to chose from a favorite genre, most audiobook listeners have a
favorite style, whether single-voiced, or a solo reader voicing multiple
characters. I know many teens who will only listen to full-cast recordings.
Serious audiobook addicts often have favorite narrators, and devour all
titles recorded by their choice. If you'd like to supply yourself with the
lingo that describes the variations in audiobook production and narration,
take a look at the Audiobook Lexicon I created.

Q.     How do you feel about audio books as compared to podcasts and/or ebooks?

A.     The more the merrier! Once you become an audiobook addict, podcasts are a great free way to feed your habit. We live in a world of multiple literacies, where we can carry our stories in multiple containers! And while
you are checking out the audiobooks available for download from your public
library, you will be amazed at the number of eBooks that can be downloaded
to your computer for free! In fact, this week is also both "Teen Tech Week"
and "Read an Ebook Week." Find out more, including great download
suggestions from ALA's recommended audiobook lists here.

Q.     Any other interesting factoids about Audio Books you'd like to share?

A.     Did you know that the American Library Association presents a literary award to the best audiobook for children and young adults each year, along with the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz awards? Learn more about the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production here.

Q.     Do you have a favorite audio book of all time?

A.     Holy cow! I have a huge list of favorites just from last year - so many the
list is in three parts! Take a look.

Thanks so much for your time Mary!

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