Tuesday, June 10, 2014

YA Sync, Audio Books, and YA Literature

I recently attended and presented at an amazing conference on YA lit at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I love opportunities to meet up with other teachers, librarians, and students who LOVE YA lit, and share their interest in it by passing on information, book recommendations, and teaching strategies. Teri Lesesne provided one of the most intriguing recommendations for staying on top of YA lit this summer in her keynote address for the conference. She talked about YA Sync, a project designed to "sync YA literature into your headphones."

Basically, every week throughout the summer months, YA Sync releases two audio books a week for download: one is a YA title, and the other is an adult, canonical title. The two audio books are free to listen to, although you do have to download a (free) audio book platform on your phone, iPad, or computer. 

This week, Cristin Terrill's All Our Yesterdays is paired with an audio production of Julius Caesar. I received a copy of Terrill's book at the ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE) Conference in Boston last fall, along with a number of other books that I've been reading since then. But I haven't gotten to Terrill's book yet, but the novelty of carrying the audio for it around on my iPhone has made it so much more accessible to get to right now. 

Generally, I haven't listened to many audio books. When I was in undergrad, I would listen to M.C. Beaton's murder mysteries while I was going on long runs, but I think I only made it through about three or four books before I switched to music. When I accidentally forgot to cancel my free one-month subscription of Audible, I ended up having credits for five free audio books. I bought as many of Neil Gaiman's as I could, since his reading voice is remarkable, and I've listened to each of them once. I also bought Emma Forest's Your Voice in My Head, a memoir I devoured in one sitting, and have listened to about three times since on audio. But still, the books I purchased as audio books were all books that I had read in print form first. I had never chosen audio book format over print book. 

Cue John Green and The Fault in Our Stars. I was so excited to read Green's book when it was published in 2012, that I flew through it. I did Harry Potter-style reading, the kind where you fly through because you know the story is going to be that good. And, as a result, I missed a lot of detail, because I think Green's books are meant to be read more slowly, or at least I find I read them better when I take my time. Just months later, my friends would talk about certain parts in the book, and I would have no idea what they were talking about. I couldn't remember hardly anything about it. So three months ago, I started listening to The Fault in Our Stars as an audio book, and it completely changed my experience of the story. I couldn't speed read through - I had to follow the pace of the reader. When I went to see the movie when it came out this past weekend, I remembered so much more, and was able to anticipate all the good, important parts. I loved the experience of listening to it as audio. 

Now I've started If I Stay by Gayle Forman, a book I've been meaning to read for a while now, but have just never picked up at the library or bookstore. Now it's keeping me company on all of my commutes, and I'm flying through it - without missing anything. 

I'm anticipating so many of the YA Sync books that are going to be released this summer. Next week it's Elizabeth Wein's WWII novel Code Name Verity and a few weeks after that we're getting Matthew Quick's Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. I loved both of these books, and I'm so excited to have a reader navigate me through the structure of Quick's novel, which is almost equally composed of prose and footnotes. 

But I'm also excited for all of the books that I haven't read yet, because it means I get to encounter them for the first time through audio.You can find the summer schedule here, so you don't miss any over the next few months. 

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