Updated: Apr 28
“That’s not really reading, is it?” Many people question if listening to audiobooks is considered reading. Listening to audiobooks and reading the hard copy are certainly different, but should listening to the audiobook be considered cheating?
There are many benefits to listening to audiobooks that only enhance a reader’s skills. Traditionally, audiobooks have been used with second language learners, students with learning disabilities, nonreaders and struggling readers. Audiobooks have been pivotal in helping these groups of students access and enjoy books. Audiobooks haven't traditionally been used with gifted students, avid readers, or typical learners. Audiobooks have benefits for all students. Read on to find out how they can help boost reading skills in students regardless of skill or ability.
Here are the top 5 reasons why listening to audiobooks can actually help your child become a better reader:
1. IMPROVES COMPREHENSION
Listening to audiobooks allows younger readers to understand text at a higher level than they might have been able to understand otherwise. The focus turns from decoding every word in order to make meaning from the text to listening to the story and using imagery to understand the story. Research suggests that listening to audiobooks improves comprehension by more than 70%! Studies have also shown that comprehension improves when we listen and read simultaneously. Encouraging your child to listen to audiobooks while following along in the hard copy can be a great way to build comprehension skills and ensure a strong understanding of the text.
2. INTRODUCES NEW VOCABULARY
When students are able to listen to audiobooks they are typically able to read books at higher levels than they would if they were reading the hard copy. For this reason, they are introduced to new vocabulary words that they would not find in a book on a lower reading level. This allows your child to form a richer vocabulary and knowledge of topics that are more technical and advanced. If you are able to have conversations with your child about the story or listen along with them and discuss the book, this can even further enhance their understanding of the vocabulary words and how the author uses language to convey meaning.
3. ENHANCES WORD RECOGNITION ABILITIES
When students listen to audiobooks and read along simultaneously they improve their word recognition skills. Recognizing words is important because when the student encounters these words in the future they will be more likely to read them correctly. There are many programs such as Prime Reading by Amazon that provide Audible narration to go along with the printed text. All you need to do is buy the Kindle edition and before checking out check the box to add audible narration. Your kiddo can read along with the text as it highlights in sync with the narration. This is a great way to enhance your child’s word recognition abilities!
4. DEVELOPS HIGHER-ORDER THINKING SKILLS
The ability to build background knowledge quickly through audiobooks cannot be underestimated. When students are given the opportunity to listen to higher level books they get access to content and information that represents their capabilities and intellect. If students are left to read books only at their reading level, they lose out on valuable learning experiences. This is especially true for struggling readers who are in the upper elementary grades. Using high/low books is another way to ensure your struggling reader can access books on their interest and intellect level. High/low books offer highly engaging age appropriate subject matter at lower reading levels for struggling readers. By encouraging your child to read high/low books and follow along in the audio version, they can access a wide variety of literature on subjects that peak their interest but do not frustrate them or leave them feeling discouraged.
5. EXPANDS READING FLUENCY
When students listen to fluent and expressive reading they hear how language is supposed to sound. This helps them to learn about pacing, intonation, and fluency which they can then work to emulate in their own reading. This fluent reading also allows the student to better understand the story and create mental images in their mind to picture the characters, setting, events in the story, etc. By taking the pressure off of decoding or sounding out every single word, the reader is able to focus on the meaning of the text instead. This is further solidified by listening to fluent reading which only enhances a reader's understanding of the text. As long as the narrator’s voice is pleasing to the ear a student can benefit greatly from hearing fluent reading.