Listening to Audiobooks Helps Children Learn Better
Audiobooks are NOT Cheating.
Lots of parents think that listening to audiobooks is not as valuable to their children as having them sit down and read the book by themselves. While reading is a skill that every child needs to learn, audiobooks are a good way to support that skill.
We all recognize the benefit from a bedtime story for small children. The reason for this is that part of learning language is learning comprehension. In fact, that skill comes long before the actual speech part of language skills.
Human history is steeped in the oral tradition. Long before books were available, important information and stories were passed down orally.
Studies Show that Audiobook Listening Helps Kids
Many studies and articles support the process of listening to books as beneficial to children.For instance, there are the significant 1985 report from the Commission on Reading; "Improving Reading Skills Through Audiobooks" by School Library Media Activities; "Listening to Learn: Audiobooks Supporting Literacy, ALA Editions; and "Audiobooks for Children: Is This Really Reading?" by Children and Libraries 5.1 among many others.
How Can Audiobooks be Helpful?
Despite the mounting evidence supporting the benefits of audiobooks for kids, many parents and educators think that audiobooks, although helpful for those with learning disabilities, are not really appropriate for other children.
Here are a few of the many reasons why they are:
- Create Pictures from Words - Listening to audiobooks help stimulate the auditory part of our brain to create pictures from the words. This skill is essential to children's development, especially in a world of picture books and TVs.
- Allow All Students to Participate in Discussions - Listening to audiobooks in the classroom helps put everyone on equal footing for class discussion of the assigned books. For instance, slower readers may fall behind and not be able to participate in important discussions in class, depriving them of the social and esteem building skills.
- Learn New Vocabulary - Listening to audiobooks allows the listener to hear new words, hear how they are pronounced properly and hear the vocabulary used in context. While reading, it's easy to skip over that difficult word and never learn a thing about it .
- Develop Active Listening - Listening to audiobooks helps children develop ACTIVE listening and critical thinking skills. TV and music tend to be passive activities to our brain. Active listening is important in all aspects of life as are critical thinking skills.
- Enjoy Literature - Reading Shakespeare is not everyone's cup of tea - the language is strange and can frustrate even the most avid reader. This frustration can make even adults give up on the book. But listening to the language allows for the mind to open up and hear the poetry in the words and concentrate on the big picture of the story instead of the minutia of each difficult word.
Children Have Different Learning Styles
It's also important to understand that people have different ways of learning and taking in information. Although there are many styles identified, the three basics are still:
- Visual, and
It's generally recognized that people are some combination of the three. I can see that I am visual and tactile - the act of writing and then seeing a name is a far more successful way for me to remember peoples' names. One of my daughters is VERY auditory, while the other is much more visual!
For kids that are auditory learners, audiobooks can be a godsend! But for others, they may not be as effective unless used in conjunction with other learning methods.
Interested in Trying Audiobooks?
There are many ways to try out audiobooks without spending a fortune.
Most libraries have physical and digital audiobooks you can borrow. There are also services like Simply Audiobooks where you just rent the audiobooks (Netflix Style.)
For discussing what you love (or dislike) about audiobooks, have a look at AudioFile Magazine's Facebook Page. Often publishers have free samples or whole audiobooks to download.
Free Audiobooks For Young Adults (and You)
SYNC is a special summer listening program for young adult listeners. Librarians and schools participate, helping their patrons and students discover the fun of modern and classic literature.
This five year old program offers a thematically paired set of audiobooks each week starting May 7th. The audiobooks are available as digital downloads and are available for a week, but once downloaded, they don't expire. Anyone can download these - though occasionally there are restrictions by the publishers for residents outside of the United States.
You can visit http://audiobooksync.com/ to try audiobooks for the first time or add to your library.