24 Free Audiobooks to Download This Summer

Sync IconIf you like audiobooks, check out the free young adult audiobook downloads from Sync YA Audiobooks. It’s 24 books—two each week starting on May 30.

I’ve downloaded these books the past two summers, and they are excellent books each year. It’s a great way to build your audiobook library. Each week, they post one recent title, and one classic text that explores similar themes. For example, the first week, they are pairing Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, read by Rebecca Gibel (AudioGO) with The Tempest by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (AudioGO). So even if you aren’t working with teens (or don’t have teens at home), you may find the classics each week worth downloading.

Get more info on their website and check out the Tool Kit for posters, bookmarks, and other graphics that you can download to spread the word about the books.

There’s a linked version of the full schedule on the site, but to
get you excited, I’ve pasted it in below too:

May 30 – June 5, 2013
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, read by Rebecca Gibel (AudioGO)
The Tempest by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (AudioGO)

June 6 – June 12, 2013
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by
Maryrose Wood, read by Katherine Kellgren (HarperAudio)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Audio)

June 13 – June 19, 2013
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton (Scholastic
Audiobooks)
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, read by Robert Ramirez (Recorded Books)

June 20 – June 26, 2013
Once by Morris Gleitzman, read by Morris Gleitzman (Bolinda Audio)
Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr., read by Dion Graham
(christianaudio)

June 27 – July 3, 2013
Rotters by Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne (Listening Library)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, read by Jim Weiss (Listening Library)

July 4 – July 10, 2013
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, read by Nick Podehl (Brilliance
Audio)
She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, read by a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre
Works)

July 11 – July 17, 2013
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, read by Peter Altschuler (HarperAudio)
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, read by Simon Vance (Tantor Audio)

July 18 – July 24, 2013
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, read by Erin Moon (Recorded Books)
Hamlet by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

July 25 – July 31, 2013
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, read by Charlie McWade (Scholastic
Audiobooks)
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, read by Steve West (Blackstone
Audio)

Aug 1 – Aug 7, 2013
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, read by Dan Weyman (Macmillan Audio)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, read by Ralph
Cosham (Blackstone Audio)

Aug 8 – Aug 14, 2013
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, read by Katherine Kellgren (Brilliance Audio)
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, read by Miriam Margolyes
(Bolinda Audio)

Aug 15 – Aug 21, 2013
Sold by Patricia McCormick, read by Justine Eyre (Tantor Audio)
Let Me Stand Alone by Rachel Corrie, read by Tavia Gilbert (Blackstone
Audio)

30 Poems You Can Write for National Poetry Month

Magnetic Fridge PoetryApril is National Poetry Month, sponsored by Academy of American Poets and other poetry organizations. Last year, we posted thirty poetry activities, one for each day of the month of April—and the good news is that we’ve got an updated poem-a-day activity for you this year too!

Each day has a link to a different kind of poetry writing, either a specific poetic form, like sonnets or acrostics, or poetry focused on a particular topic, like seasonal haiku or color poems. The materials range in grade levels, but can usually be adapted for any age (even college students).

So here’s the challenge for you and students: I found a different poem for every day of the month. How many different poems can you write? And remember that even if you don’t have time in class to write a poem each day, these poetry activities will work any day of the year!

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1: Acrostic Poems 2: Seasonal Haiku  3: Nonsense Poems 4: Catalog Poems 5: Shape Poems 6: STEM Poems 7: Bio- Poems
8: Riddle Poems 9: Nursery Rhymes 10: Color Poems 11: Two- Voice Poetry 12: Headline Poems 13: Diamante Poems 14: Rebus Poems
15: Parody Poems 16: One-Sentence Poems 17: Name Poems 18: Magnetic Poetry 19: Letter Poems 20: Bilingual, Spoken-Word Poetry 21: 5Ws Poems
22: Free Verse 23: Alphabet Poems 24: Concrete Poems 25: Found Poems & Parallel Poems 26: Cinquain Poems 27: Limericks 28: Traditional Sonnets
29: Astronomy Poetry 30: Sports Poetry          

 

Cross-posted to the NCTE Community ReadWriteThink.org Group and the Reading and Language Arts Group on the Thinkfinity Community.

 

[Photo: Magnetic Fridge Poetry by Minimalist Photography, on Flickr]

Bits Week in Review for November 28

Catch up on your reading with this round-up of posts from last week on teaching composition and rhetoric from Bedford Bits, on teaching English language arts at the secondary level in High School Bits, and on teaching literature and creative writing from Bedford Lit Bits.

A Few Extra Links

For regular updates from Bedford Bits, be sure to sign up for the Ink’d In newsletter (and other resources), like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Bits Week in Review for November 6

Here’s the round-up of posts from last week on teaching composition and rhetoric from Bedford Bits, on teaching English language arts at the secondary level in High School Bits, and on teaching literature and creative writing from Bedford Lit Bits. I hope you find something you can use in the classroom or your research!
 

A Few Extra Links

For regular updates from Bedford Bits, be sure to sign up for the Ink’d In newsletter (and other resources), like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
 


Cross-posted as a Note on Bedford/St. Martin’s page on Facebook.

Award-Winning Sentences

Stormy nightOne day, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton sat down and wrote what have become one of the most infamous opening lines of his novel Paul Clifford (1830): “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Bulwer-Lytton wrote other memorable lines. He penned “the pen is mightier than the sword” too, but chances are that if you know his name, it’s because of “It was a dark and stormy night.” Part of that sentence’s familiarity is thanks to Snoopy, who works so hard on that first sentence of his novels. If you’ve never quite understood the problem with that sentence, it’s likely that you’ve never read the full thing:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Quite the sentence, isn’t it? Since 1983, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has honored that epic sentence with a competition to write an equally spectacular sentence. This year’s winner, Sue Fondrie, teaches at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The Guardian has more details, including the award-winning sentence which compares memories to wind turbines and sparrows and a groaner of a winner from the Fantasy category.


This post is the introduction from the Bits Flashback for July 31. Read the rest of the post on Facebook.

 

[Photo: Stormy night by Andrew J. Sutherland, on Flickr]

Reading, Writing, Eating

Lemon CakeAlyssa Rosenberg wrote about Food in Fiction and How Cooking Brings You Closer to Characters this week in The Atlantic. The article asks readers to think about how cooking and eating the same foods as fictional characters strengthens the connection between reader and the text.

Rosenberg describes some lemon cakes she made as a connection to Sansa, a character the books by George R.R. Martin that are the basis of HBO’s Game of Throne:

The cakes weren’t anything like I’d imagined from reading about them in the book—they were spongier and less sweet, and hard to imagine as a dreamed-of delicacy. But they were delicious, a powerful visceral connection to the people on screen and the world in which they live.

Such connections between reader and text reminded me of the potential writing about food has in the composition classroom. Jay Dolmage has written two entries this year that include assignments and discussion ideas. Take a look back at Writing About Food and Food Rules for ways you can connect with students just as Rosenberg connects with those fictional characters.


This post is the introduction from the Bits Flashback for June 26. Read the rest of the post on Facebook.

 

[Photo: Lemon Cake by Charles Haynes, on Flickr]

Write a Poem a Day for National Poetry Month

Magnetic Fridge PoetryApril is National Poetry Month, sponsored by Academy of American Poets and other poetry organizations. ReadWriteThink includes links to poetry lesson plans, websites, and classroom activities on the calendar entry for April 1.

I wondered, however, if we had enough resources on the site to write a different kind of poetry every day. I began with student interactives and then hit the site’s search engine to come up with the list below.

Each day has a link to a different kind of poetry writing, either a specific poetic form, like sonnets or acrostics, or poetry focused on a particular topic, like seasonal haiku or color poems. The materials range in grade levels, but could usually be adapted for any age (even college students).

So here’s the challenge for you and students: I found a different poem for every day of the month. How many different poems can you write?

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1: Acrostic Poems 2: Seasonal Haiku
3: Nonsense Poems 4: Catalog Poems 5: Bio- Poems 6: I-Am Poems 7: Shape Poems 8: Riddle Poems 9: Nursery Rhymes
10: Color Poems 11: Two- Voice Poetry 12: Headline Poems 13: Diamante Poems 14: Rebus Poems 15: Parody Poems 16: One-Sentence Poems
17: Name Poem 18: Magnetic Poetry 19: Letter Poem Creator 20: Bilingual, Spoken-Word Poetry 21: 5Ws Poems 22: Free Verse 23: Alphabet Poems
24: Concrete Poems 25: Found Poems & Parallel Poems 26: Cinquain Poems 27: Limericks 28: Traditional Sonnets 29: Astronomy Poetry 30: Sports Poetry

 

Cross-posted to the NCTE Community ReadWriteThink.org Group and the Reading and Language Arts Group on the Thinkfinity Community.

 

[Photo: Magnetic Fridge Poetry by Minimalist Photography, on Flickr]

Thanksgiving Classroom Discussion: The Meaning of Thanksgiving

TurkeysStill looking for that last-minute classroom activity to keep the class occupied before the Thanksgiving break? Mark Twain’s newly released autobiography includes a comment on the meaning of Thanksgiving that is bound to lead to a lively classroom discussion.

Begin the classroom discussion by asking students to brainstorm or freewrite about the meaning of Thanksgiving. To help focus their comments, you might first ask them to reflect on what Thanksgiving means to them by sharing some of their personal experiences.

Next, ask them the talk about the cultural and social messages related to the holiday. It’s likely you can arrange their shared responses into a handful of categories like family, tradition, patriotism, thankfulness, and shopping.

Once students have recorded their ideas on the meaning of Thanksgiving, turn to Twain. The New York Times published some Excerpts From the ‘Autobiography of Mark Twain’, (found via Chris Boese on Facebook) that included this vitriolic rant “On the Meaning of Thanksgiving”:

Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for — annually, not oftener — if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side, consequently it was proper to thank the Lord for it.

Twain’s syntax is a little complex, so you might start by breaking down that passage and unpacking the words. Ask students to look in particular at the word choice Twain is using to establish his opinion on the meaning of Thanksgiving:

  • It’s a function, rather than a holiday or celebration
  • The pilgrims are “those people.”
  • The function marks “exterminating their neighbors.”

There’s no whitewashing in Twain’s account of Thanksgiving! Those are some tough words, and Twain’s meaning is very clear.

Have students think about the religious and cultural references in the quotation, and challenge them to think about how Twain’s personal experiences may have influenced his opinion. Have students compare Twain’s comments to the ideas they brainstormed at the beginning of the activity, and encourage class discussion of the accuracy of Twain’s statement. Are there ways that Twain’s take on the meaning of Thanksgiving could be seen as accurate?

As an extension, ask students to adopt Twain’s structure and tone and apply it to Black Friday or Cyber Monday. What would Twain say was the meaning of those commercial events?

 

[Photo: Turkeys by Hey Paul, on Flickr]

Do You Remember Your High School Lit Class?

On NCTE’s Connected Community, James Wilson responded to the discussion about multicultural literature, lamenting that “the focus on multicultural literature over the last 3 decades has resulted in an inability to teach the classics of the Western tradition. Few of my college freshmen have even heard of Faulkner and Steinbeck, much less read them.”

I understand Wilson’s frustration, but I learned long ago not to believe every word students report about their exposure to authors and literature. Their reports are more likely to be based on what they remember—things that made a strong impression for some reason. Sometimes that’s because they hated every word of text that they had been forced to march through. Sometimes it’s because they loved the text.

Ask me what I read in high school, admittedly a very long time ago—but even fresh after graduation I doubt I’d recall the details. In 12th grade English lit, for instance, I could tell you that I read Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Macbeth, and “On Looking into Chapman.” Why? I remember hating Beowulf as endlessly dry and boring. I had to do a presentation on the “Wife of Bath,” where I was expected to come up with a costume out of no where. I had to use the nurse’s cape from my elementary school Halloween costume. I felt like an idiot. Macbeth I think I recall because my teacher must have liked it. I remember her reading aloud passages with a lot of theatrics, especially regarding bloody hands.

The most random thing on the list is Keats. My teacher also had a thing for precis and summaries, instilling a lifelong hatred of them in me, for what it’s worth. For some inexplicably nerdy reason, I wrote my precis of “On Looking into Chapman” in rhyming couplets. She read it to the class, without my permission, and I was made fun of for the next 2 weeks.

Bottom line: The problem isn’t “classics” versus multicultural literature. It’s that all too often students don’t have memorable experiences with literature. Frequently, that’s because they’re marched through the canon in an attempt at comprehensive coverage. Reading literature should be more than that, but many times, it isn’t.

Memorable experiences with whatever literature they read will create lifelong readers — and that’s how to get students who read widely and deeply. You can never possibly teach every great text, but you can teach in ways that make people want to read more widely.

[ I don't accept that we have to choose between multicultural and classic literature. Multicultural literature is in most cases also what I'd defend as classic literature, but that's a different topic.]

More Banned Books Week Resources

Muggles for Harry Potter PinOne of my cherished possessions is a Muggles for Harry Potter pin from 1999. Eric Crump gave it to me, having picked it up from the NCTE librarian. I hadn’t read a word of J. K. Rowling’s first book, but I was willing to join the anti-censorship campaign.

I wish all adults understood that while they are responsible for helping their family choose books, they aren’t responsible for telling the rest of us what we can read. Since the world doesn’t seem to work that way, we talk about banned books and the problems of censoring ideas in the classroom.

When I posted a list of Top 10 Things to Do with a Banned Book earlier this week, I was accused on the English Companion Ning of being biased and working to indoctrinate students. Sigh .  .  .

I guess I do have a bias: people should be allowed to choose what they read. I fundamentally believe that students and families should be allowed to reject a text that doesn’t fit with their beliefs and values. But no one should be allowed to make that decision for everyone else.

I advocate choice, and I do so by talking about banned books. I want students to know that books have been banned. I want them to know how and why they get banned so that they understand censorship. And yes, I want them to realize that individuals should be free to read what they want.

Since I posted my Top 10 Things, some additional resources have been released. Some, unfortunately, have been created in response to a sweeping call for censorship by Dr. Wesley Scroggins. If you want to learn more about censorship or to find some additional classroom resources, check out these resources: