The NC State College of Education’s Media and Education Technology Resource Center (METRC) hosted an audiobook club this summer for undergraduate and Master of Arts in Teaching students. About a dozen students participated in the summer book club.
Participants selected popular young adult and elementary chapter books from a list of free audiobooks that were available on Audible and then met virtually for 30-minute discussions every first and third Wednesday throughout the months of May, June, July and August.
“As the spring semester wrapped up, we wanted to find a way for students to earn PGUs [Professional Growth Units] over the summer and stay connected to the College of Education. We believe reading and discussion reading can be a great way to connect students to each other and to their future students, particularly when we read and discuss young adult or children’s books together,” said Kerri Brown Parker, director of METRC.
The first meeting focused on building rapport among the students and deciding on the books or short stories that would be read and discussed. They chose Squint by Chad Morris, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Talon by Julie Kagawa and Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon, which was an Audible original.
“I was interested in exploring literature through a different medium. I was an English major so reading print is always my first choice and this was something a little different,” said Mandy Reid ‘21MAT. “I wanted to find out if listening to a book makes a difference in the way I might connect to the text. Does the narrator’s reading influence my experience? The audiobook club was a good way for me to think about these questions and how audiobooks might be used in the classroom. I learned that it is easy to get distracted while listening to an audiobook; however, for students who are more attuned to listening to podcasts or who might struggle with longer texts, audiobooks might be a useful tool in the classroom.”
Students had two weeks to listen to the selections. METRC Library Technician Hunter Pinder, who led the discussions, would send out a list of discussion questions to consider before each meeting. But the goal, Pinder says, was to keep the discussions informal and free-flowing in an effort to foster an environment of comfort and safety to speak freely, while remaining respectful and thoughtful. And during the discussions, Pinder would always find ways to relate the readings back to the classroom, which led to thought-provoking and deep discussions.
“I wanted people to come away from this with a renewed appreciation for reading. In schools, we see reading as an educational necessity, and it is; so much can be learned through reading and the humanities in general, and it is so vitally important for students to learn from it,” said Pinder. “But reading is also about human connection and expanding our worldviews, putting ourselves in other people’s shoes for a couple hundred pages in an attempt to get outside of our own ways of thinking. Reading opens up a whole world that we would never otherwise be able to experience, and there’s a beauty in that.”
The book club was established to engage undergraduate students and students in the Master of Arts in Teaching program with the College of Education during the summer and to provide a place for social interaction in a time when being social is difficult.
“We specifically selected a virtual audiobook club because some publishers have made access to those materials more accessible for students as part of the response to the coronavirus and we wanted to promote those types of resources that teachers and our future teachers can put in use for their own teaching and content development,” said Brown Parker.