American roots, American branches

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Wednesday, June 14, 2017


During Week 8 of AudiobookSYNC, our pair of free audiobooks features American cultural history that may be new to many listeners. Both come from insiders, rather than providing viewpoints from outside the cultures they portray.


THE RED UMBRELLA by Christina Diaz Gonzalez is historical fiction based on Operation Pedro Pan, an early 1960s project to send unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States in order to avoid what their families feared would become Fidel Castro’s denial of parental authority. Kyla Garcia’s performance for Ideal Audiobooks brings total realism to the voices of Lucia, Frankie, and their Midwestern foster parents. This audiobook is a fine example of how the audio format can enhance reader appreciation and understanding through authentic pacing and accents.

Paired with this teen novel is the classic by African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK. Rodney Gardiner’s well-executed reading for Dreamscape Media allows contemporary teens to access African American culture at a time slavery and Reconstruction were still in living memory and an intellectual, from the vantage point of a Harvard-educated black man who was a political and social scientist. Here again, the pacing and tone of the performance provide an authentic support for listeners who might struggle to read this important work on their own.

This week’s pair celebrates the power of the audiobook medium to overcome cultural stereotypes and gives listeners the opportunity to stretch beyond their own assumptions. We hope you’ll share these opportunities and take a look at the listen-alikes the audiobook publishers have suggested on AudiobookSYNC’s download pages for the week.


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