Friday, August 31, 2007

Free Stories and Poems at Lit2Go

I found Lit2Go today while searching iTunes for some Jane Austen. Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in MP3 (audiobook) format. You can visit the web site and browse by author or title or search the database. You can also go directly to iTunes and download from the audiobook library.

Files are available for grades K-12. You will also find a few selections in Spanish. At the primary level you will find nursery rhymes and poems. In upper elementary grades you will find Alice in Wonderland (5th), The Secret Garden (4th), plus fables and fairy tales. At the high school level you will find many of the "traditional" classics, as well as some odd titles, such as Deductive Logic, The History of Modern Mathematics and Spherical Trigonometry. Phew! I love math, but I'd need to see it when I read it. The narrators are, for the most part, pleasant and easy to listen to, though a few read a bit quickly. I listened to the beginning of Beowulf, but had a hard time following without the text in front of me.

I can see great promise for some of these files in the classroom. For example, the page for A Was An Apple Pie has links to the MP3 file, a downloadable PDF of the text, and a list of the related Sunshine State Standards. Even though these are FL curriculum standards, they do map pretty closely to the language arts/English standards in most states.

I will point out one major problem I noted in looking at the grade level audio files. In this day and age, how could developers think it was appropriate to provide resources for the nursery rhyme Ten Little Indians? Perhaps I'm naive, but I'd like to believe that teachers know better than to use this degrading piece in their classrooms. Given the fact that these materials are available on the web and likely to be used by teachers all over the country (world?), I would like to see more attention given to the inclusion of materials appropriate for ALL children, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. This means the exclusion of time-honored favorites that do nothing more than perpetuate unacceptable stereotypes.

Okay, I've shared my thoughts. Take a look at these new resources and let me know what you think.


  1. This looks great. Bookmarking it to pass on to teachers!

  2. So who decides what is appropriate for all children? Are we rewriting history by ignoring inappropriate behaviors of the past? Or should we learn from previous mistakes so we don't make them again? This material is out there and people will find it young and old. I think it is the obligation of parents as well as teachers to discuss with children how we can grow to become more inclusive than those who came before us. Without guidance kids may believe what they find on the Internet to be appropriate behaviors. Why else would it be posted to the Internet?

  3. Hi Jack,
    I agree that it's important for parents and teachers to discuss these issues with kids. That's how they'll learn. But kindergarten children can't be taught a rhyme and then told it's inappropriate. We certainly can share such rhymes with older children and discuss, but something like "Ten Little Indians" shouldn't be introduced to very young children in the first place. I would hope teachers of young children already know that, but teachers may believe that if there are no Native children in their classes that it is not a problem. It is, and its continued use perpetuates a terrible stereotype and view of Native Peoples.

    As to who decides what is appropriate, I like to think that reasonable people can look at material and determine whether or not a piece is appropriate for their kids. However, lots of folks seem to have blinders on when it comes to teaching about Native Peoples. Historical and inaccurate views are still prevalent.

    Oyate has a poster about teaching respect for Native Peoples. You can read the text of the poster at:
    Another great resource is Debbie Reese's site, American Indian's in Children's Literature.