Photo by Gavin Whitner
So, you are an independent author thinking about creating your own audiobook. You have spent time looking into distribution and feel that you have a solid plan and a great product. You have also recently realized that you don’t have the budget required to hire a professional service to create your audio. And finally, you think you have some killer acting skills that are going to surprise family and friends and delight potential listeners. You are ready to begin recording.
But first, check out some basic tips to consider when recording your audiobook:
Audiobooks are easy now. They are easy to listen to: just pull up an app on your phone or tablet, choose your book, and press play. They are easy to get: you can buy one with the a few clicks from an online store. Or, if you don’t want the commitment of full ownership, you can borrow one from the library. Using my phone, I can check out an audiobook from the library and download it in just a few minutes. There, I timed it. It took me exactly 7 minutes and 14 seconds to click on an app, browse my library’s catalogue, and download a David Leviathan book. And I was being choosy. I didn’t just select the first book I saw. I actually want to read this book.
We are basically living in a sci fi wonderland for book lovers. If my childhood self could have seen this future while she was carrying around a small briefcase of cassette tapes, listening to a book on her bright yellow Walkman, she would have wept actual tears of joy.
Many teachers report assigning independent reading in elementary, middle, and even high school classrooms, and having students raise their hands upon finishing their reading and shout “I’m done” enthusiastically. Some of these same students often give vague and unclear answers when asked about what they have read. In some cases, they are completely lost. They are simply reading the words on the page and not interacting with the text.
Reading is the construction of meaning — it is much more than the sum of a group of words. “Teaching children which thinking strategies are used by proficient readers and helping them use those strategies independently creates the core of teaching reading” (Keene & Zimmerman, 1997). If there is no meaning constructed in the minds of the readers, then they are not truly reading at all. Many students can read the words on the page, but are making no connections to the text. They aren’t visualizing what they are reading, they aren’t making personal connections to the text, they aren’t making predictions and updating those predictions throughout their reading, and they aren’t asking questions and attempting to answer those questions as they read.
Dr. Frank Serafini, author of Audiobooks & Literacy states that hearing the sounds of spoken language while pairing those sounds with the printed word helps struggling readers to better focus on the meaning of words, rather than simply trying to recognize words in the first place. “As developing readers listen to audiobooks and follow along with a printed version of the story, they learn to match the sounds of oral language to their written counterparts. This matching of sounds to symbols is the basis for reading instruction… [and supports] struggling readers by helping them focus on meaning rather than the decoding of text.”