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2018 Notable Children's Recordings Annual Meeting Minutes


Notable Children’s Recordings

Annual Conference 2017

Notes from June 24-25, 2017 meeting

Members present : Allison Knight, NCR Committee Chair; Laura Bos, Annamarie Carlson, Sue Connolly, Rebecca Cowley, Hanna Lee, Michelle Ng, Cynthia Vanderbrink, Sara White

Saturday, June 24 - 8 guests in attendance

Sunday, June 25 - 3 guests in attendance

  • Initial discussion of terms, criteria & definitions to be considered while making our list - these can all be found on page 6 of the NCR Manual

    • Terms: The 2018 list will comprise of titles released between November 1, 2016 – October 31, 2017. We will only consider  recordings that are available through a U.S. distributor, are available on audiotape/cd/digital download etc & are  produced in English. This requirement does not limit the use of words or phrases in another language where appropriate in context.

    • Criteria / Definitions

      • Respects young people's intelligence and imagination : indicates either the lyrics of music or the text of an audiobook. This also indicates that recordings to be considered are those for which children (ages up to & including 14)  are a potential audience. The recording exhibits respect for young people’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations.

      • Exhibits venturesome creativity : recordings which provide an auditory experience that is appealing to children and that goes beyond the ordinary

      • In exemplary ways reflects and encourages the natural interest of children and young adolescents

      • Depicts excellence through the effective use of voices, music, sound effects, and language

      • Maintains high standards in aesthetic and technical aspects

      • Adapted materials remain true to, expand, or complement the original work

      • The committee shall consider all forms of recordings – music, storytelling, informational, audiobook, book and recording combinations. Reissues of previously recorded works are not eligible.


  • Talk with Mary Burkey on how to speak about audiobooks distinctly from the text

    • Some thoughts to keep in mind when evaluating audiobooks

      • The author writes the script which the narrator performs

      • Think about literary elements in an auditory way - what can you hear about the characters & their development, how is setting conveyed with elements of sound?

      • If music is overlaid at the start or finish of recording, does it set the time period?

      • Does the speed of the narration reflect  the plot of the book? Does speed increase in exciting, action packed parts or slow down with emotional moments?

      • Aesthetic use of voices - are stereotypes employed?  is the accent true to a culture or time period?

        • http://accent.gmu.edu - this website can be used to look up regional English accents as well as accents of non-native English speakers

    • Music is harder to evaluate & find! Many titles for children are self-recorded & thus quality can vary.

    • The boom of audiobook productions in recent years means faster outputs & often more  mistakes. If you think you hear  a mistake in the recording, you can use the “search inside a book” feature on Amazon to check the text

    • Book & CD packages - do they work as a soundscape that illustrates the physical item? We are judging the entire package.

      • Considerations:

        • ding/tone/bell to indicate a page turn - if it’s present, is the sound chosen distracting? Are there two tracks, one with ding, one without? Is there enough time to turn the page ?

        • Environmental text - does the narrator read text found in images? If so, is it seamless and/or done creatively?

    • It’s best to listen to an audiobook fresh, if you haven’t already read the book - as a  reader, you will create pre-conceived ideas of character voices, you’ll know the plot & may miss the way the narrator unveils events.

    • Odyssey award vs Notables list

      • Odyssey award is given to  a title that is as close to perfection as  possible on all fronts - technical & artistic

      • Notables list - we are not looking for perfection - our discussion will include acknowledgement of issues that are acceptable when looking at the strength of the entire work. The notable list will include more books that play with venturesome creativity.

    • If you’re in a library with both the book & the audiobook of the same  title in hand, which one would you hand to a child? Titles in which the audiobook is stronger are the ones we want for our list.

    • Chair should vet titles to ensure they are available to libraries for purchase. Sometimes a download only ‘audible original’ is available as an mp3 disc through Brilliance Audio.

    • Tips for finding titles that haven’t been submitted:

      • Audible Coming Soon section for kids or teens (Teen section has a filter that shows titles for 11-13 year olds & 13 and up) - again, these titles will need to be vetted for library availability

      • Tips for finding music recordings:

        • Sing Out, a magazine featuring folk music

        • post open calls to Facebook groups, websites, message boards frequented by musicians who create with children as an audience  - “hey musicians,are you releasing a recording this year with kids as an audience? We’d love to consider it for the Notable Children’s Recordings List used by Libraries across the country to find quality music for our collections (https://www.facebook.com/groups/childrensentertainers/  )


  • Annual Wrap Up / Looking ahead to Midwinter

    • At the midwinter meeting, we will discuss all titles on the nominated list

      • 30 titles total is what we will aim for

      • Anonymous voting - per Manual, “titles that received majority votes are then counted; if the number of titles is within the guidelines of the desired 20-30 title list, those are considered to be the list. Further rounds of voting may be needed to winnow down the titles or to round out the list.” (p25)

        • Thought: how can we look at the list as a whole? How important is it to include a range of titles vs ensuring only the top titles in terms of quality are included?

      • Each audiobook submission is listened to once by an assigned member and decided if it should be  included on our nominated discussion list. If another committee member feels strongly about listening despite  a NO vote and would like to nominate anyway, we will go ahead with that YES vote. (Further notes from the chair in a follow up email:  if we get a conflicting yes and no vote from 2 members, we move forward with the yes vote. However, I will caution you again that there is the issue of capacity – ultimately, we can’t all listen to every title and that is why we have the assigning process in place. Except in rare instances of extreme personal interest or lots of starred reviews, I would ask you to trust your committee member’s judgement and prioritize recordings that have not otherwise been listened to – whether that’s your assignments or seeking out new-to-us titles from starred reviews or your library’s new shelf.)

      • IMPORTANT : write all annotations before midwinter to ensure a timely finish! Annotations could  lead with narrator’s name & then a descriptive word to  explain how their particular style captures the  work

      • IMPORTANT: all members of the committee must arrive on time & stay for the duration of each scheduled meeting. If they miss any part of the meetings, they will no longer be able to participate.