Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Playaways in the Library: A Story in Your Pocket

My library system recently got funding to invest in a starter collection of Playaways. Trying to maximize the most of our funds, we opted for the Playaways rather than the Playaway views (which I have to admit are awesome- I’ve played with them at ALA Midwinter, so if you’re going to ALA Annual go check them out- they’re under Findaway World, booth 1657). At my location, I focused on youth and young adult titles, including those that I knew were ones that were going to be required summer reading, and they have circulated like CRAZY! My kids (I always call my youth patrons my kids) are familiar with how they work as the upper elementary and middle schools have them in their libraries, and they were so excited about “their” library having them. So today, in my kids words, I present to you why they think Playways are “super better” than audiobooks (with a translation in parenthesis).

  • Cuz they don’t melt in the car (the audiobooks that we carry are all on CDs, and especially in Texas heat, if they’re left in the car they can tend to warp)
  •  I don’t have to share with anyone (Playaways are self contained audiobooks that use headphones, so one person can listen at a time if you choose. If you want more than one, you can use an audio cord to plug it into a radio or your car, or a headphone splitter to use for multiple headphones).
  • Don’t need iTunes to listen to it (a lot of my kids and teens do not have CD players save on their computers, just a variety of MP3 players, so in order to listen to the audiobooks they were having to download them onto their devices)
  • It plays in order (when they did download the audiobooks onto their devices, they were having trouble with the chapters staying in order)
  • I can slip it into my pocket and no one knows I’m doing homework (the Playaways are about the size of my iPod touch, and much smaller than my cell, so they can put them in a backpack or pocket and just have the headphones or earbuds out and pretend to listen to music instead of actually doing homework)
  • It helps with my English (I recently did a display where I paired up the Playaways we had with the physical books, thinking that the kids would want to read along with the audio version. Turns out that it wasn’t the kids who were checking them out the most from that display, it was our ESL adult who were trying to improve their reading and comprehension skills- by listening and reading along, they could pair up the words and practice, and since they were young adult books, they could talk along with their teens and share the experience)
  • Easy to work (the buttons are really easy for smaller fingers to use, and the cases that we have contain the instructions to use as well, so even the youngest kids can listen to the picture book ones that we purchased)
  • It’s a storytime when you’re not in the library 

Do you have Playways in your library? What has been your experience? Share with us in the comments!

Karen’s Note: I checked out a Playaway from Christie’s library and I have this handy old iPod device that allowed me to listen to the Playaway on my car stereo. You simply plug the device into the earphone jack and put it on the correct radio station.  Mine is seriously old, there are newer versions if you look around online.  Also, I had Playaways at my old library system and they are popular because a lot of teens no longer have CD players for audio books because, you know, everything is on their phone.  Actually, I don’t even own a CD player, though I do have one in my car which is where I listen to my audio books, which I now adore.  For me the biggest issue for Playaways versus Books on CD is that I didn’t have to worry about the batteries running out and then I didn’t have to buy my own battery to replace in the unit (most libraries do not provide replacement batteries due to cost).

June is Audio Book Month.  Learn more and enter our Audio Book Giveaway.

Friday Finds – June 14, 2013

The Friday Finds is your spot for a summary of topics we’ve covered this week. We will have a list of things you may have missed here on TLT, as well as an item or two from the archives you may want to revisit. Each week’s recap will conclude with some links to interesting reading from the web.

This Week at TLT:

Karen writes about damaging stereotypes and the lack of diversity in YA literature.

Robin writes about her (rather disastrous) experience with this year’s World Book Night. 

Mermaids get the Teen Program in a Box treatment.

Karen reviews Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown and goes behind the scenes of reality TV with a look at two compelling reads.

Keeping track of sequels is an endless job. We have a list of popular YA sequels coming out soon.

Kicky (Karen’s tweenage daughter) recommends 5 audiobooktitles you should try. And June is Audio Book Month! Enter our audio book giveaway!

Everyone loves Top Ten lists! We have a chance for you to win a whole book of them.

Previously on TLT:

Summer is a time when teens have traditionally had more time to get involved in their communities. Teens can often feel disconnected and at loose ends (or have an excess of energy looking for an outlet.) Why not steer them towards one of these opportunities to get involved and make a difference?

Around the web:

Wondering where all the good teen female role models are? The Mary Sue has an awesome (and convenient) list of “9 Female Characters We Wish We’d Been More Like In High School” including some of my favorites!

Chuck Wendig runs down the basics of “25 Things You Should Know About Young Adult Fiction” over on his blog Terrible Minds.  The next time someone astounds you with a mindbogglingly incorrect assumption or a false claim to know ‘just what YA is,’ send them here.

Over at The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss discusses the biggest scandal in America – childhood poverty. She presents the current statistics and discusses poverty’s impact on student success in education and the failure of federal policy to address the problem.

Got a tip for some great Friday Finds? Email RobinReads at Bellsouth dot net or Tweet her @RobinReads

5 Audio Books My Tween Says You Should Listen To Right Now

If you follow me on Twitter (@tlt16), you know that the Tween and I are now audio book obsessed.  Even if we are just in the car for a five minute drive she asks me to turn on whatever book we are currently listening to.  We have gotten home and sat in the car for a few extra minutes to finish whatever scene or book we are listening to.  I don’t forget to turn on the book because she won’t let me, “Mom, turn the book on” she cries from the backseat of the car.  Here are 5 of her recent faves.

1.  Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

I won’t talk a lot about this one, because I mentioned it in yesterday’s post about reality TV. The tween wasn’t interested in it though for the inside look at all the behind the scenes happenings of reality TV.  No, she just liked that it was funny, charming, and at times kept you on the edge of your seat.  She is also a huge animal lover and there is plenty of fun wildlife present.

2.  The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks

In The Paradise Trap, Marcus’s mom buys a trailer for them to vacation at the beach.  One day they discover that the trailer has a basement, which if you know anything about trailers is physically impossible.  Inside the basement your wildest dreams – and most fearful nightmares – come true.  This story is an interesting twist on the legend of the Sirens.  It definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat as you travel through the maze of a basement and try to find a way out.  It also led to some fun discussions about what our dream vacation and nightmare vacations would look like.  I think it would be a fun book club book and you can do an activity where your tweens create their own dream or nightmare vacation brochures.  You can listen to an excerpt at the Random House Audio page.

Audio Book Fact: Most listeners use audiobooks in the car (whether they are commuting or on driving vacations) but an increasing number of people also report using audiobooks while they are exercising, cooking, gardening — and even at work. (from the Audio Publishers Association)

3.  Divergent by Veronica Roth
Okay, I don’t always make awesome parenting decisions.  I am the mother who took the Tween to see The Hunger Games movie when she was 8.  Anyhow, I was listening to Divergent when she got in the car with me one day and I hadn’t turned it off.  She started protesting so we kept listening.  There is a lot of violence, obviously.  And there is one scene where Tris is attacked and basically sexually assaulted.  I was surprised, because she did really like it.  And of course now she is closer to being a teen then she was when I took her to see The Hunger Games movie (which she did like by the way).  So, the moral of my story is this: definitely read or listen to the book first, but it is a good audio, a good book, and with the movie coming out soon there will be high demand.

Audio Book Fact: Audiobook listeners are avid readers who use audiobooks as a way of enjoying an author’s work when they are not able to read. 94% of audiobook listeners had read a book in the past year vs. 70% of non-audiobook listeners. (from the Audio Publishers Association)

4.  I’d Tell You That I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Because I am the mom to two girls, I am always looking for good representations of females in my books.  Ally Carter is one of my favorite authors because of the characters she writes.  And, her books are charming, fun, and entertaining while being empowering.  ITYTILOVBTIHTKY is book #1 in the Gallagher Girls series.  I think everyone should read these books.  They are about girls in spy school and they do a good job of presenting a wide variety of girls, their interests and personalities, and have some pretty kick-ass role models.  There is a touch of romance, geeky spy science, and really intelligent women.  What’s not to love?  We were introduced to the series by listening to the audio and have bought every book since then for our home library.  Last night the Tween started reading the series again I noticed.

Audio Book Fact: In a recent consumer survey, the Audio Publishers Association learned that 25% of Americans had listened to an audiobook in the last year.

5.  The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

This was a really interesting listening experience because we did it backwards.  I started reading the book out loud as our family read along, but somewhere along the way I picked up a new book before we finished this one.  We both really liked this book and wanted to finish it, so we listened to the audio.  The Mysterious Benedict Society is such a clever book about genius children and there are lots of fun mysteries and puzzles to solve inside.  Just listening to it made us feel like we were getting smarter by the day.  And one of my favorite childhood books is The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, which this series reminds me a lot of in tone and personality.  You can listen to an excerpt to get a feel for the series at the Random House Audio page.

I recently had a discussion with the Tween, asking her what she liked about audio books.  She said she liked how they drew you into the story and it was kind of like watching TV or a movie, but the picture forms in your head.  Plus, it made car rides more fun.  The only thing she said she liked better about reading a book is that she could do it at “her own pace.”  I will say that I have noticed that she often doesn’t finish reading a book, but she always finishes the audio which means she is getting the whole story.

Exploring Audio Books Inside and Out with Mike Paine (guest post)

I want to shed some light on what it takes to create an audio book production from a narrator’s first hand perspective and also examine what makes an audio book character come to life. When I audition for a prospective audio book production, I choose a project that has a story that needs to not only be told..but heard as well. I then read an audition script and try a few different takes on my own before submitting one that I believe fits the storyline. If I’m selected to narrate an audio book, I really try to grab the attention of the listener immediately and add a dimension to a story that can only be achieved in an audio book. What does that mean? 
For works of fiction I carefully examine the entire script to see what each character is doing, saying and feeling. That’s key to making a story come to life through sound and for the listener wanting to know more about the characters involved. I never try to make a work of fiction too “perfect” with a flawless narration. I want the listener to believe the character is realistic by stammering when nervous or raising their voice when angered. It’s much harder to do, but the end result is a vibrant story waiting to be heard! 
As for works of poetry, I like to use a soothing approach to stir emotions in each listener. Beautiful thoughts meshed together make an enjoyable experience for the narrator as well as the listener.
Autobiographical pieces require being in tune with what the author wants to convey in their message to you by having the narration serve as a compliment to their story. It’s almost as if I’m saying “listen to this; you really need to know what I’m going to tell you!”.  
A humorous or satirical audio book approach calls for emphasizing those times when thelistener should laugh out loud as well as leave enough pause to let them absorb what they heard before moving on.
Each book is entirely different in the way I approach a narration. Once I get on a “roll” I want to narrate the whole book that moment and I have to stop myself from beingover-anxious! I prefer narrating shorter stories because it allows the listener to really embrace the story and/or characters in a way that captures the imagination. It leaves you wanting more!  In this ever-changing fast paced society, it’s refreshing to know that people from all walks of life love to listen to an audio book to learn, to be inspired or simply as an escape. 
Exploring an audio adventure can open up a whole new world to those who don’t like to read a book in the traditional way or even with a device. It almost channels that inner desire to hear a story told from someone else’s point of view! Since June is Audio Book month, look into an audio book as a new way of hearing a story told or even as a compliment to hear your favorite book come to life! 
A little about me: I first got into voice over work back in 1987 because I thought it would be a fun thing to do. My first job was for a cable television provider in Dallas, Texas when a producer took a chance on a kid. I did cable television voice overs for a restaurant and a printing shop. I have been doing voice overs, audio book narrations and radio broadcasting work ever since! My credits include narrating 21 audio books which you can find on audible.com.  (You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikePaineShow)
My voice over work has been heard worldwide and ranges from the voice of Santa for a children’s app, the voice of Socrates for an animated training course and even a movie trailer as an Italian mob don (in English AND Italian!). I do all of my narrating and voice work from my home studio which allows me to create without the confines of a 9 to 5 environment. 
I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the audiobook world!

Karen’s note: I have never used Audible.  I check audio books out from my library – it’s pretty convenient because I go there several times a week. Plus, I don’t have to spend money on I book I may not like.  But I know someone who does use Audible, and she has been very happy with the service.  If I like a book, I don’t usually go out and buy the audio but buy the actual book to keep in my collection.  Listening to an audio book is how we ended up buying the complete Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter at my house.

Do you listen to audio books?  Where do you get yours?  Tell us in the comments.