Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Judith Viorst - February 2

Happy Birthday Judith Viorst - February 2, 1931

I couldn't wait to celebrate Judith Viorst's birthday. Teachers and parents know her best for her Alexander books:

I remember reading Alexander Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean it!) Going to Move to my fourth grade language arts class. This particular year all of my students were boys! Many of them had the personality and attitude of Alexander, a little grumpy, not excited about change, felt like the world was out to get them, etc. Reading this book started out like all the other stories. Many of the boys were half listening, and many were not listening at all. However, these boys were quickly able to identify with Alexander by the time I got to page three when Alexander screams, "I'm not- DO YOU HEAR ME? I MEAN IT!- going to move." They all were on the edge of their seats after that. I have been out of teaching for 5 years, but I can still see their faces and hear them scream Alexander's words.

Part of me wanted to relive that moment. I had the thought of making our own audiobook for the Alexander books. I thought I could read most of the story, but I could get a little assistance for the really cool parts, like "I'm not- DO YOU HEAR ME? I MEAN IT!- going to move." from my daughter. To achieve this I downloaded a free program called Audacity. I use a Macintosh computer, but it also is available for Windows. All you have to do is download the program, then install and you should be ready to go. A little recorder will pop up with the opening of the program. It has a little record button (a red circle). You click this button and then read the book into the microphone on your computer. Convenient for me my microphone is really good and I just talk to right in front of my computer. Then, click stop (the yellow square) once you have finished and then export the recording as a .wav file. I was able to open this file in iTunes and burn a CD to use in the car or in my daughter's bedroom. Pretty cool to have your own audiobook!

Another great way to have your children or students participate in the audiobook is to make the sound effect necessary to alert the listener to turn the page. We had triangle from a preschool music instrument set that we used for our page turn signal.

Judith Viorst also has a background in psychology in addition to being a great writer . She meshed together her talents in both areas when she wrote two poetry books - If I Were in Charge of the World and Sad Underwear. She has a subtitle on both books that states, "poems for children and their parents." According to the books summary, these books "examine and celebrate life with all of its perplexing complications". I was previewing the poems while my daughter was at dance class this morning and I was quite impressed. They were real, identifiable, and funny.

I hope you make lots of audiobooks this week! One more thing on the topic of audiobooks. I first tried this about a year ago with my daughter. We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It still makes all us smile when it comes on in the van when we are listening to audiobooks on long car rides!

Check her new book Lulu and the Brontosaurus for Kindle:


1. Judith Viorst article NY Times
2. Activity Ideas
3. Judith Viorst  "Our Authors, Our Advocates" - YouTube
4. Biography from The Kennedy Center
5. "Finding Good Stuff After 65" - AARP
6. Interviews - Bookpage, Wired for Books, Goliath Business, Dream World Jam 

Note : Links and videos updated January 31, 2011.

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