When teachers and parents recoil

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, November 1, 2018


Whether or not you're a fan of audiobook listening for your own narrative enjoyment or learning, if you read our SYNC blog even in the off-season, you recognize both the appeal of the format and its role in encouraging youth to engage with well constructed and well performed literature. What do you do when that recognition you have becomes the doormat for someone else's heavy-booted rejection of this combined literary-performance art form?


Last week at a regional library conference, there were plenty of audiobook aficionados exploring the exhibits and attending the readers' advisory discussions. And there was the librarian who walked over to our display table with a tentative smile, began to pick up one of the cards there displaying Sound Learning's infographic , and so we engaged her--or tried to engage her--in friendly conversation. When she found out that both the infographic and our presence related to audiobooks, she dropped the card as though it had burned her hand. Her remarks about audiobooks as existing to sully her world were so scorching that I caught my breath.

While we all read about and have casual conversations with audiobook naysayers, this was one of the most dramatic expressions of rejection of the format I'd witnessed in several years. What road of communication do we take to talk about an expressive form when met by such a shut down--in a location that is, at base, about opening the world of ideas and expression, a library conference?

In this case, I wished her well and turned away to someone else who had just approached. In the week since, I've remembered all the discussions to which I was party as my library creaked--two decades ago--toward supporting efforts to establish and build a teen audiobook collection. I also remember the warm welcome the audiobooks received from English teachers at the nearby high school and the audiobook workshops the high school librarian arranged for non language arts faculty. In short, most of the negativity about audiobooks I've met has been in professional development settings or casual conversations in my personal life.

What roads do you take in the library workplace--or, if you're a teacher, when a parent beomes confrontational about audiobooks? Asking for a friend.

Category : audiobooks

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