Thursday, May 25, 2017

WAPL Session Recap: Sound Learning: Read-Alongs Enhancing Literacy Development

Post by: Dana Johnson, Youth Services Librarian, La Crosse Public Library

As a self-identifying audiobook enthusiast, I jumped at the chance to attend Sharon Grover and Jamie Swenson’s presentation on Sound Learning: Read-Alongs Enhancing Literacy Development. Sharon and Jamie kicked off this presentation by addressing how audiobooks support literacy development. Some parents and caregivers may feel that listening to an audio book is “cheating” and should not count as reading time.  In response to this, Sharon and Jamie introduced the Audio Publishers Association’s Sound Learning  website, which is an excellent resource in advocating for the benefits of audiobooks. In particular, library staff should familiarize themselves with this infographic to put those worried parents minds at ease. I printed and hung a copy next to my audio book section! 

The presentation then turned to using audiobooks with picture books together in a read—along experience. Here are some of the many benefits:
  • Picture book read-alongs give children time to follow the text and read the illustrations
  • Audiobooks can serve as a great tool for engaging distracted children in storytimes
  • The music and sound effects in these audiobooks create an emotional experience that reinforces the tone of the text and story.
  • Read-alongs promote phonological awareness
  • Audiobooks help caregivers bridge any language or skill gaps by reinforcing correct pronunciation and removing pressure from parents who may be uncomfortable reading aloud.
My favorite takeaway from the session was that audiobooks can be a tool used to promote diversity in our library. We know from the We Need Diverse Books campaign, that children need to see themselves authentically reflected in the stories they read. Sharon and Jamie took this a step further. They advocate that we also need to make sure the voices our children hear are also diverse. I love storytime, but as a White, Midwestern, native English-speaker, I cannot do justice to a Yuyi Morales book. The children in my storytimes hear my voice and voices with similar cadence and dialect often in their schools and library. By using diverse audiobook read-alongs, like Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood or Jaquline Woodson’s This is the Rope, children will get to hear diverse dialects, voices, and tones narrating these stories in authentic ways. 

I highly recommend looking at Sharon and Jamie’s slides and exploring the Sound Learning website.

Check out other WAPL youth program reports from the April 27-28 conference (links will be highlighted when published):

Stop here at the WAPL conference website for all the session handouts and slidedecks.

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