Whether you find audiobook listening a great way to consume books while you do chores, exercise, commute, or craft, make this the year SYNC helps you to become an active listener. There is much more to fine audiobook production than replacing your print focus with hearing the content. All of the audiobooks in this year’s SYNC collection of 32 free titles come to you through stellar performances by expert actors and narrators. There are good reasons for choosing professionally read titles for both yourself and the teens in your life.
Because an expert narrator understands where pace and tone changes are needed, hearing audiobook nonfiction can be akin to re-reading a text and already knowing which phrases you must note if you are to understand what comes next. Unlike that kind of re-reading in print, listening to the book gives you that experience the first time through.
Of course, listening to well-performed audiobooks, whether nonfiction or fiction, introduces listeners to a host of rich vocabulary correctly pronounced, making it ready to use as part of the listener’s own communication set. Instead of printed words that get skipped over by the visual reader befuddled by a word’s unfamiliarity, words heard in context make sense and can be acquired readily for future use.
Today’s audiobooks also offer a wide range of performance styles. Like styles of music or visual art, you can discover what you find to be most pleasing through exposure to different kinds. Experience single-voice performance, dual performance, duet reading, and recording of a full cast as you listen to this year’s SYNC collection and discover your own personal listening tastes. Maybe you like to hear suspense or fantasy delivered by multiple narrators and prefer autobiography read either by the author or by a narrator who fully understands the author’s world.
Plan some audiobook discussions with this year’s SYNC titles to help others discover the power of active listening as opposed to passive hearing. Such a discussion group is similar to a book discussion group and yet goes beyond concentrating on the content of book under discussion to include questions like:
- How did this narrator help you better understand the character’s culture? – Try this one especially with Week 2’s THIS BOOK BETRAYS MY BROTHER and Week 16’s TEVYE THE MILKMAN
- What words did you learn both as to meaning and pronunciation from listening to this performance? – Try this one especially with Week 4’s A BRIEF HISTORY OF FASCIST LIES and Week 12’s PARADISE LOST
- When you were listening to this book, how did the narrator or narrators help you to differentiate the characters? – Try this with Week 9’s HONESTLY BEN and Week 13’s SISTERS OF THE SNAKE
When planning an audiobook discussion with SYNC titles, be sure to let participants know the dates between which they can download the title or titles for free and allow about two to four weeks for everyone to have the chance to listen before the date of the discussion. Remind everyone to listen at the intended speed of the recording. Like music, there is little to be gained by speeding up an audiobook performance; that is a step away from active listening to simply hearing passively and missing important contextual, rhetorical, and emotional cues.
Listening to audiobooks and then talking about what you and others discovered builds better print reading as well as attention skills. Try it this summer with a class, a book club, or even within your own family.