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Lend Your Voice: A Community Recording of The Wizard of Oz

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During this year's annual American Library Association's June Conference, Random House Audio, in partnership with First Book and OverDrive, Inc. made a "community recording" of L. Frank Baum's beloved classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. What's a community recording? Good question.

First they set up a makeshift recording studio inside one of OverDrive's digital bookmobiles (think ice cream truck meets moveable library) and then they invited authors, librarians and passers-by to participate in reading a section, paragraph or page from L. Frank Baum's beloved classic. Everyone from Newberry Medal winner Rebecca Stead to visitors taking in the DC sights got in on the fun.

The reading took place over a three- day period and many familiar names stopped by to lend their voice -- Dennis Lehane, Ken Burns, Roy Blount, Jr., Libba Bray, Holly Black, Jon Scieszka, Christopher Paul Curtis and Cory Doctorow, to name a few.

A spokesperson for Random House Audio told me that the goal of the project was to give listeners a chance to engage in the audiobook recording process by stepping behind the mic to spread the word about digital audiobook downloads -- a fast-growing part of the audiobook industry.

The recording went live this morning and is being released online as a digital exclusive, available at www.firstbook.org/wizard for a small suggested donation.

First Book, a leading children's literacy organization, will receive the proceeds from the download. Random House Audio will also be donating 5,000 children's audiobooks to First Book to be passed along to underprivledged children, their communities and schools.

It's a delightful project with a big heart. And, yes, a brain, too.