The Notable Children’s Recordings committee wants to hear from you! We are seeking suggestions from ALSC members (current, individual) of new children’s recordings that they have enjoyed this year. But before you jump on your email and send me your suggestions, let’s review the eligibility details and criteria that we are looking for (all of this information comes from the Notable Children’s Recordings Manual, which can be found here, if you are so inclined to go seek further information http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncr/ncrslctioncomm):
a) were released in the year preceding the Midwinter meeting during which the selections are made. (Exact dates: Nov 1, 2016-Oct 31, 2017)
b) are currently available through a U. S. distributor
c) are available on audiotape and/or compact disc (new formats will be included in the evaluation based on the recommendation of the Chair and the approval of the Board)
d) are produced in English. This requirement does not limit the use of words or phrases in another language where appropriate in context.
Now, the subjective stuff! The criteria are all defined in the Manual (again, refer to the link above to access it), but I thought it would be more fun to give you examples of exemplary titles from past years.
Recordings are evaluated on the following criteria:
- respects young people’s intelligence and imagination
- exhibits venturesome creativity
- in exemplary ways reflects and encourages the natural interest of children and young adolescents
- depicts excellence through the effective use of voices, music, sound effects, and language
- maintains high standards in aesthetic and technical aspects
- adapted materials remain true to, expand, or complement the original work
For example …
- I would highly recommend Anna and the Swallow Man narrated by Alan Corduner. In this Odyssey Award winner, Corduner’s gentle narration guides the listener and is truly reassuring as Anna’s journey takes her through some dark places in WWII Poland. A more lighthearted take on this is Arriba Abajo by 1 2 3 Andres, which uses lively music to engage children and teach some complex concepts to younger children, using bilingual lyrics.
- I have to give it up for Storms, read by Dion Graham. Graham takes what is otherwise a pretty standard nonfiction reader and makes it exceptional and compelling with venturesome creativity.
- Save Me a Seat, read by Vikas Adam and Josh Hurley, really taps into the young adolescent experience of being the outcast, and humorously and sensitively depicts the natural urge to belong.
- This is the easiest criteria to point to, because it is at the heart of what makes a great audiobook fun to listen to. One of the best examples last year was 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World, read by a full cast, and employing a full range of music, sound effects, and historical recordings to create a riveting listen.
- This criteria is another one that is easy to demonstrate, because none of the titles would make the list if they didn’t meet the highest standards of technical and aesthetic aspects. Some of the things we listen for include pauses for “white space” as transitions between paragraphs or chapters, proper narration of textual cues such as punctuation, questions, exclamations, singing, or emotion, a clear and consistent voice with minimal mouth sounds or background noise, among many more. Feel free to sit in on the Midwinter meetings to hear this discussed in more detail.
- Grayling’s Song, read by Katherine Kellgren, or Mama’s Nightingale, read by Robin Miles, are two titles that really expand on the original print work. They both use beautiful singing that gives the listener a special experience that readers would not have.
Go forth and listen! And if you hear something exceptional, please be sure to let me know. (The deadline for this year’s submissions is released by and received by 10/31.)
Allison Knight is a Children’s Services Librarian at the Dayton Metro Library in Dayton, Ohio and the current chair of ALSC’s Notable Children’s Recordings committee.