Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Heard a Good Book Lately?

In September I’ll be hitting the road, headed to a library conference, and am reviewing potential audio books to entertain me on the journey. Listening to a polished narrator read aloud is my favorite way to pass the time while driving. (Bedtime stories excluded: no falling asleep at the wheel for me!) I listen for pleasure as well as to keep up with the many new children’s books that arrive regularly in our Children’s Department. And here’s a housekeeping tip: dishwashing and other chores are less tedious if accompanied by a good story.

The audio book format is popular here at Main Children’s, especially during summer vacation and holiday time. I often recommend audio books to parents who have children who are reluctant or struggling readers. Listening to a fluent reader helps the child develop his or her own fluency and vocabulary. Listening assists in pronunciation, too. I’m a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s Number One Ladies Detective Agency series and had read quite a few of the books before listening to an audio version. The narrator, a native South African, set me straight on the pronunciation of personal and place names.

The narrator can make a huge difference in how well the story translates to this format. They’re not all Jim Dale, the gifted narrator of the Harry Potter audio books, but so far there have only been one or two narrators who turned me off to the audio version.

Currently I’m listening to Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (adult title) and have the second in the Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud (children’s book) lined up to listen to next.

Now it’s your turn. What audio books (children’s or adult titles) do you recommend I listen to while driving across the Great Plains?


Anonymous said...

You might also like McCall Smith's series, 44 Scotland Street, a gentle, humorous look at Edinboro society, also available on CD. A local Edinboro paper challenged him to write a chapter a week and the collected episodes from the newspaper make up the book.

Kelley said...

I recently listened to a great book on CD, The Dogs of Babel. Amazingly beautiful story but it's read so wonderfully. I was so impressed with the performance in fact, that I researched the narrator and wrote to him! He's not terribly famous but he wrote back and I was charmed. I love it so much I bought it! Check out the book description on Amazon because the audio is sure to woo you!