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Christmas Audio Books: How To Keep Struggling Readers Engaged

written by: Anne Vize•edited by: Benjamin Sell•updated: 10/26/2010
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Christmas audio books are a fun way to finish off the teaching year and keep struggling readers engaged. 'Toad Surprise' is the latest offering from well known Aussie author, Morris Gleitzman. It is available as a CD story which makes it easily accessible for learners with lower literacy skills.

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    Toad Surprise

    'Toad Surprise' is a Christmas audio book which tells the tale of a cane toad who goes on a quest to find the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. The toad, named appealingly 'Limpy', has a dream where humans and cane toads can live happily together, and share in the true meaning and festivities of Christmas. So Limpy sets out to give Santa a helping hand, and takes another cane toad along with him for the journey.

    Unfortunately, Limpy discovers that not everyone is willing to share in the joys of Christmas alongside a cane toad! Humans still sqaush cane toads with their cars, and not everyone is excited by the sight of a wart covered, slimy amphibian hopping down the path to join them!

    'Toad Surprise' is a set of three CDs published by Bolinda Audio. The CDs contain a track pause every three minutes, which allows students to find their place easily, and to book mark the story so they can restart listening at a later time. The story runs for three hours, with approximately one hour to each CD.

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    About the Author

    Morris Gleitzman is well known as an author for children in Australia. Originally from England, he has called Australia home since the 1960's. He has written many books for children, and has earned a place as one of AUstralia's best known and loved authors for young people. He has a wonderful turn of phrase, and his stories have both young children and adults laughing together at the situations and dialogue of his endearing characters.

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    Classroom links using Toad Surprise

    Toad Surprise can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom. It is useful as:

    • an introduction to Australian lifestyle and culture - learn more about Christmas in Australia here
    • a tool for exploring the impact of introduced species on eco systems
    • prompting internet or book based research on environmental issues
    • a starting point for introducing themes related to Christmas, with a non traditional focus
    • a way of teaching cultural differences

    Encourage your students to share in this and other Christmas audio books as a way of introducing them to another reading option that can be enjoyed as an individual or small group activity. Students may like to research other Christmas audio books that are available online, or perhaps experiment with writing their own short script and recording a story as a class.

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    Low Literacy Learners

    For some learners, the challenge of reading a full length novel is intimidating and is likely to turn them off the reading task altogether. The advantage of using a taped story on CD is that it is easily accessible for low literacy learners, who often have the concentration and listening skills for a lengthy story, but do not have the reading skills. Using a Christmas audio book means these learners can remain engaged with the story, and be on an equal footing with their peers when it comes to extension tasks related to the story. It also provides them with insight into a format for enjoying literature that is manageable and accessible, and can perhaps help keep some of these students engaged with the reading process rather than disengaged and frustrated.

*Please note - the author received 'review copy of CD' from a company other than Bright Hub in order to develop the content contained within this article or review.