Grades 9-12 – Common Core

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Narrator:James Frain

Imprint: Listening Library
Grades: 9-12

Release Date: August 09, 2011

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While teens may want to skip Ray Bradbury’s scholarly introduction, teachers will appreciate it’s addition for classroom discussion. Whether or not students and teachers listen to Bradbury’s literary discourse, there will be no argument about the merits of Verne’s great science fiction tale of a “sea monster” that turns out to be the fantastic submarine, Nautilus. In what may well be the original steampunk novel, Verne introduces us to the notorious Captain Nemo and his villainous revenge on civilization. Frain’s mellow baritone, stalwart pacing, and clipped British accent draw the listener in and serve the story well.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

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The Dark Deeps: The Hunchback Assignments 2
Narrator:Jayne Entwistle

Imprint: Listening Library
Grades: 9-12

Release Date: September 14, 2010

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Mirroring Verne’s iconic underwater classic, Slade takes his audience on a wild steampunk ride with the hunchbacked, shape-shifting spy Modo and his companion Octavia, first introduced in The Hunchback Assignments. Sent to investigate a “monster” terrorizing the high seas, Modo finds himself whisked aboard a mystifying underwater vessel captained and crewed by the enigmatic Icarians, while Octavia works to effect his rescue. Entwistle’s subtle voicing makes the characters easily distinguishable from one another and her stalwart pacing keeps the story moving to its exciting climax.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9 Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Narrator:Maya Angelou

Imprint: Books on Tape
Genre: Biography & Autobiography – People of Color

Release Date: January 04, 2011

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Common Core text exemplar for grades 9-10

No one could narrate the story of Maya Angelou’s difficult early years as well as the author herself.  Growing up with a variety of family members, both loved and abused, Dr. Angelou rose above racism, rape, and teenage pregnancy to become a beloved author, poet, educator, playwright, director, and the poet at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Dr. Angelou’s eloquent reading makes this staple of many high school reading lists an experience not to be missed. Pair it with the following…

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My Beloved World
Narrator:Rita Moreno

Imprint: Books on Tape
Genre: Biography & Autobiography – Personal Memoirs

Release Date: January 15, 2013

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Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor is no stranger to adversity. Her childhood was spent in Bronx housing projects, part of a large Puerto Rican family impacted by alcoholism and poverty. Through hard work and government programs, Justice Sotomayor was able to attend Princeton University and Yale Law School, eventually becoming the first Hispanic and only the fourth woman on the Supreme Court. This compelling autobiography features a preface and prologue read by the author, with the body of the memoir narrated by Rita Moreno, herself of Puerto Rican heritage. Moreno takes command of the story with her authoritative pacing and flawless Spanish.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

Students can compare and contrast the autobiographies of these two important women, noting the differences and similarities, not only in their experiences of overcoming difficult childhoods, but also in the ways in which they have chosen to unfold their stories.

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Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith
Narrator:Rosalyn Landor

Imprint: Listening Library
Grades: 9-12

Release Date: January 06, 2009

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Combining biography and scientific inquiry, the true story of the courtship and marriage of Charles and Emma Darwin features their loving courtship, their differences in belief about science and religion and their battles with ill health and the death of several children. Their diaries, letters, and other writings used in this book give an intimate look into their lives and their relationship. Landor’s performance lends an authentic Victorian-era diction and inflection that also distinguishes between the central characters.  Charles Darwin’s devotion to science was always the dominant force in the marriage, and Heiligman’s text is worthy of the 2010 Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.  Students investigating scientific inquiry, Victorian life, and the lost art of letter-writing will be richly rewarded with this audiobook.

Common Core State Standard

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

The UK web site, Online Darwin, includes biographical information, and fascinating digital reprints of both Charles and Emma Darwin’s diaries.

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Fangirl

Imprint: Listening Library
Grades: 9-12

Release Date: September 10, 2013

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Cath is a college freshman who juggles more than the usual challenges of young adulthood – she is a writer of fan fiction that has garnered a substantial following, but her family, her twin, her roommate and even her English professor add to a doubting anguish.  Her emotional turmoil about writing – a craft that envelops her and changes her life – brings her acute awareness of life’s choices and their consequences.  All this and a budding romance are proverbially “brought to life” by the performance of Rebecca Lowman and Maxwell Caulfield, who is the voice of the fan fiction hero Simon Snow.  The author writes a story about writing that will resonate with many teens.

Common Core State Standard

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3c Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone and outcome (e.g., a sense of mystery, suspense, growth, or resolution).

Anyone who is familiar with fan fiction will be interested to look at the clearinghouse web site, http://www.fanfiction.net/communities/book/  that lists the many books that have a following (who knew that Percy Jackson has over 500 writers contributing to the fan fiction canon?).

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Hitler Youth
Narrator:Kathrin Kana

Imprint: Listening Library
Grades: 9-12

Release Date: October 24, 2006

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Listening to this story is an exercise in the building tension that a powerful narrative can produce, and also demonstrates the innovation and creativity in information audiobooks.  Awarded both the 2006 Newbery Honor and Robert F. Sibert Informational Text Honor, the facts and information gradually slowly but surely gives awareness of the implications of Hitler’s plans for Germany and the Hitler Youth. That Germany’s young people were blinded to the true motives of Hitler’s quest for power is carefully described as their devotion to the Nazi cause is exploited. As World War II comes to a close, the role of the Hitler Youth, from manning flak guns and searchlights, to fighting fires from bomb raids indicates how they contributed to the war effort.  Hana’s calm voice drives the narrative to its conclusion without diminishing the brutality. A critical and effective supplement is an additional captioned photograph slideshow that provides dramatic culmination. In the audio, the listener hears the story of Hans and Sophie Scholl, how they became disaffected from the Hitler Youth and formed the White Rose Resistance group. Knowing their story and fate, it becomes even more powerful to see their faces in the slideshow. An added bonus is an introduction and epilogue spoken by the author.

Common Core State Standard

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

The Jewish Virtual Library, has a section on the history of Hitler Youth.  Students may investigate this web site and compare with the audiobook of Hitler Youth.

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A Step From Heaven
By: An Na
Narrator:Jina Oh

Imprint: Listening Library
Grades: 9-12

Release Date: March 25, 2003

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A heart-rending immigrant story, a powerful testament to individual determination, and a worthy recipient of the 2002 Michael L. Printz award, A Step from Heaven is all of these.  As Young Ju leaves her native Korea to travel to New York, she learns to speak English, assimilate into a new culture, and gain confidence.  However, her parents are forced to alter their traditional Korean way to life and the pressure and stress lead to family distress. Jina Oh’s narration highlights the struggle of the immigrant family in this, a story whose strong plot will cause the listener to grab a few tissues while listening to the final chapter.

Common Core State Standard

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

The Asian Pacific American Center of the Smithsonian Institution, gives extensive Korean American history at this link that will add to the narrative of A Step from Heaven.

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Your Own, Sylvia
Narrator:Various

Imprint: Listening Library
Grades: 9-12

Release Date: March 03, 2009

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Being told in verse intensifies this creative fictionalized biography of Sylvia Plath. The performance effectively presents the highly unstable life of Plath.  The various friends and family who give their perspectives are a cast of characters that offer affection yet clear insight into the poet’s troubled life.  The narrative is also interspersed with “footnotes” by the author, giving an additional personal touch.  The voices of Aurelia Plath and Ted Hughes are especially fine as they share their comments about Plath’s life.  This title would make a natural companion to The Bell Jar as students will learn more about the volatile life of the poet/author.

Common Core State Standard

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)

The Modern American Poetry web site has a 1962 interview with Sylvia Plath that gives students an opportunity to learn directly from her about her work.

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