Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Books on Tape : Books on Film

Recently Tim helped me put together a compilation of audio books for a friend with cancer. We sent 4000 minutes of reading over 2000 Km around the globe. This friend and I talked last night and it got me thinking about different types of literacy. For a person who is struggling with an illness this type of literacy is a great relief and an escape. The audio books accomodate a reduced level of mobility and lower concerntration levels because they require little energy from the "reader" to handle. I wonder though how this "reading" compares to the experience of picking up a book and creating a pace for the experience of reading oneself, the ability to develop characters, and visualize the happenings in a book. My experiences with audio books have been on car rides or on a lazy weekend. I do not remember the stories as well as other books I read in a traditional sense. I also did not feel they were like oral story telling because the narrative form of an audio book doesn't represent the meter and style of an oral story and less often did I listen to the same audio book again. I have been thinking about having a listening center in my classroom during practicum. I am a big advocate of "the spoken word" and oral poetry. I like attending improvised and prepared poetry slams and I like to go to author readings. I have always enjoyed stories read aloud. However, I wonder if these experiences can be captured in a listening center. I think of these auditory learning experiences as performances and I don't view audio books the same way. I wonder if my students will feel the same way?

On the otherhand I think for many students recent examples of books adapted for film like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe excite students. I think they see the representations of literature in a dramatic and performative context "reading" through the medium of film on platforms that an audio book can't reach them. I also wonder however, if this limits the possible understandings of such books to "see" them vs. read them. The Harry Potter books are another example where books and films are closely entwined. When I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I was interested to hear children in the audience comparing the movie to the book. I heard them comment on parts that were missing or elements that they liked and didn't like. I thought these conversations were valuable and meaningful. I also thought it was interesting that in this case the book was the authority vs. the movie. Its my own bias that I think of the written text as the authentic text. I wonder if I had a different background I might feel differently about accepting audio and visual "reading" experiences as equally authentic. I find it interesting though that I didn't hear the same conversations taking place between children when I watched the Narnia movie as I did during and after the Harry Potter movie. I wonder how many children accept this movie version as the authentic telling of the story.

I chose a book for a novel study this term that does not have a film or audio version. I'm looking forward to my students "performing" and "reading aloud" parts of our novel. I'm looking forward to representing parts of the book through fine arts activities. I think however maybe it is partly my bias that I didn't think to have an audio version for the classroom. I wonder if it is a personal bias and maybe if I should include it in a listening center. I still have a hard time thinking about this as "reading" though. I'm glad this topic came up in my personal life because it's making me ask myself some questions about how I can accomodate learning styles and my willingness to do so.


At 2:32 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

So, how did the novel study go? You'll have to let me know.

Interesting thoughts about the listening vs. reading process and authenticity.

I remember one summer I was at grad school and had no TV and started listening to stories being read on CBC radio in the evenings.The one I really remember is Beowolf, not something I would have chosen to read, but it was a remarkable "read aloud". I do wonder though if your comments about the suitablility to a particular style or meter is important too. That could be why Beowolf worked so well.
Something to puzzle over for a while, thanks for giving me that new and interesting idea to work through,


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