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La Grande Observer 11/28/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow NEW TAPES CLIMB CHARTS IN UNION

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NEW TAPES CLIMB CHARTS IN UNION

READING WITH EYES AND EARS: Union sixth-graders, from left, Caleb Harmon, Ali Anderson, Shanna Riomondo and Steven Crader read books while listening to them on tape. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
READING WITH EYES AND EARS: Union sixth-graders, from left, Caleb Harmon, Ali Anderson, Shanna Riomondo and Steven Crader read books while listening to them on tape. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

UNION — Walkman-like tape players are beginning to help Union children sprint up the reading charts.

Students at Union Elementary School can now be seen in school with portable tape players while listening to a new addition to their Hutchinson Library — a set of audio books that will eventually number 120.

The first of the audio books were introduced last week and are sizzling up the library's popularity chart faster than a new Harry Potter book. Almost all of the approximately 60 audio books available in the library have already been checked out.

The audio books are designed to help young readers tackle books that are a little above their reading skill level.

"We want to challenge them and keep their interest,'' said Sue Miller, a library aide at Hutchinson Library.

Each volume is part of a kit that consists of a book plus a version recorded on an audio cassette tape. The recordings are made by professional narrators who use different voices to portray a variety of characters. Many tapes have more than one narrator. Listeners are encouraged to follow along line by line in their books. Miller said that the narrators are so entertaining that they "bring the characters alive.''

Union sixth-grader Caleb Harmon agrees

"They help us understand who is talking and give you a good feel for the characters. You can tell if they are happy or sad,'' Caleb said. "It makes reading more fun.''

Students are encouraged to use audio books not for books than can be easily read, but instead those that are a little above their comfort level.

"We are asking them to challenge themselves,'' Miller said.

The books are for students in first grade through high school. However, most are being used by grade-school students.

The books were obtained with money from a federal Title 5 grant, which can only be used for new programs at a school.

The grant also covered the cost of purchasing portable tape players with head sets.

Miller helped order many of the volumes for the Hutchinson Library, and many are the first books of a series. For example the collection includes the first works of the Hardy Boys, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series.

Miller hopes that children's interest in these series can be sparked by reading the first volume via an audio book. She hopes that they will go on to read the rest of the books in the series.

All of the works in the audio book selection are volumes that are part of Union Elementary's Accelerated Reader Program, in which students are tested on a computer about the books they have read.

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