Monday, February 4, 2008

Strivers Row: An Attempt At a Home-Made Audio Book

I met Kevin Baker while coordinating a Teaching American History Grant about 5 years ago. I just called him out of the blue and asked him if he wanted to speak to a group of teachers about how he did his research for Paradise Alley. He did and he was great.
I found him to be a real down to earth, menschy guy. He was also a fellow Yankee fan. Since then I've stayed in touch with him and I've made it a point to read all of his books. One time I got a bunch of them as gifts for friends and met him at some upper west side spot where he autographed them for me. The last one, Strivers Row, was I felt, his best. It's hard to imagine the kind of research he puts into preparing to write his works of historical fiction, let alone hard to imagine how well he writes. It's a shame that Strivers Row and his other books, that are part of his New York‚ City of Fire trilogy, aren't put to use in our schools. I certainly think high school students could handle it. While working in a middle school in Harlem for two years I read passages to Strivers to groups of kids and they were mesmerized.
I attempted to make my own audio ebook by scanning a few pages (337-348) and matching it to audio book version I have. Above, I've only uploaded 337-341. It was incredibly tedious to do, and in this small screen format that google video uses it's very hard to see. I think, however, one gets the point and the possibilities. I don't know why its not done on an institutional basis to help struggling readers.


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