ALA Midwinter 2020

#alamw20 Let’s Hear It for Graphic Novel…Audios!

Some of you may be thinking…graphic novel audios? What in the world is that? Others, I know, are thinking…Yes! Bring it on! What I can listen to next? My personal goal is spread the word about graphic audios and make everyone a fan of this incredible type of audiobook. Full disclosure here, I served on the 2017 Odyssey Award committee, and I continue to blog about children’s and teen audiobooks through a blog that I maintain with fellow past Odyssey members, Natalie Marshall and Lizzie Nolan. So, I am certainly not unbiased when it comes to talking about the power of great audiobooks.

I have been delighted to see all of the great programs and events that highlight outstanding audiobooks: Listen Up: Tips for Growing Audiobook Circulation, Recording Graphic Novel Audiobooks: Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl and R.J. Palacio’s White Bird, Behind the Mic: Authors on Podcasting and Audiobooks. It was especially cool to hear about the recording of graphic novel audiobooks, as these types of books can present new and significant challenges. How do you convey the atmosphere of a graphic novel through audio? How do you help listeners keep track of changing characters and scenes? What about the non-textual clues—colors, lines, movement?

The good thing for listeners is that publishers have really stepped up this year. They use amazing sound effects (actual recordings of the sound of skates during a roller derby event!), songs (even using theme songs for individual characters, as in Hey, Kiddo), and full cast recordings. The best of these (and there are so many now!) make you forget that you’re missing the pictures. It was awesome to see that Hey, Kiddo, a graphic novel audiobook, won this year’s Odyssey Award. It wasn’t so long ago that a graphic novel audiobook was a huge outlier, and now, these important audios are really coming into their own. This is an exciting trend, and I’m hoping to see more graphic novel audiobooks coming up in 2020!

Sarah Hashimoto is serving a third year on ALSC’s Membership Committee. She is a Community Engagement Manager for Jackson District Library in Jackson, Michigan.

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