“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading, is reading aloud to children – even when they are very young.” This is an excerpt from Becoming a Nation of Readers a landmark study released by the Commission on Reading in the year 1985.
Role of Audiobooks
The research review at National Literacy Trust presented an overview as to how audiobooks play a vital role in providing support to a child’s literacy skills –
- Improves the child’s reading skills
- Increases their level of enjoyment for reading
- Improves reading comprehension
- Boosts mental well-being
- Supports their emotional intelligence
Benefits of Audiobooks
- Easy to carry
Books are heavy and it’s difficult to carry them everywhere. In addition to that, they are quite expensive and until a few years ago, the only option to get books was to borrow either from a friend or a library. Now audiobooks are available which requires zero space. All you need is a smartphone (which I’m guessing you already have) and you can access some really good audiobooks online.
- Too tired to read
After an entire day’s work, there’s a high possibility that parents will be too tired to read to their kids. Audiobooks have proven to be a good alternative. The parent can take rest and watch their children enjoy the sessions where someone else reads those words in a soothing voice.
- To keep children busy
When parents need to focus on other household chores, they often occupy their children with toys, colouring pages, puzzles, and turn on audiobooks so that they can listen to stories while playing.
- Pass time while travelling
Long journeys or driving to the gas station can be quite boring for children at times. Parents can play an audiobook to divert their children’s attention from the boring car ride to the exciting story. The time goes very swiftly thanks to that.
- Reduces stress
Listening to audiobooks can be considered more like a therapeutic experience for children. It enables them to de-stress and relaxes a child’s mind especially before a good night’s sleep.
- Relax the eyes
Children, nowadays, spend majority of their time sitting in front of the television or playing games on the tablet / smartphone. It’s no surprise that this leads to straining the eyes, blurred vision or any other vision related issues such as near-sightedness. Audiobook is a fun and educational way to keep the children engrossed in interesting stories and giving their eyes a rest from those digital screens.
- Develops listening skills
It is believed that listening to books enhances the child’s verbal abilities. They tend to teach them about the pauses, accent, rhythm, etc. Listening helps to correct and improve their pronunciation of words.
- Reduces negative thoughts
For children, who are surrounded by a not-so-good neighbourhood or they have a mentally troubled person living with them, it’s easy to get influenced by all the negativity around them. It is said that audiobooks have the potential to boost moods and get rid of negative thoughts.
Audiobooks are useful for helping children showing early signs of anxiety or depression. Listening to the narrator’s soothing, peaceful voice can affect the child’s mental peace in a positive way. It allows them to shift their focus from ill thoughts to something else.
- Transports them to another world
The stories and content available in audiobooks showcase how the author and narrator help children to visualise situations and characters. Audiobook gives the child a mental picture, an imagination through which they create a world both inside and outside of themselves. It helps them escape reality sometimes.
- Improves literacy skills
Listening to audiobooks is useful for improving vital literacy skills such as – fluency, learning new vocabulary, phonics, pronunciation of difficult or confusing words and reading comprehension. Developing and advancing these skills is important for boosting reading scores.
- Shared literary experience
While spending time with family, listening to these stories could lead to interesting conversation. Parents or other family members can entertain the children by sharing funny incidents or events they have experienced in their lives. Sharing these stories helps the child to relate to the stories they have been listening and it also gives them an opportunity to know others’ perspectives as well.
- Listening to audiobooks that are funny is considered quite useful to introduce and/or improve a child’s sense of humour.
- Make children listen to different genres to widen their vocabulary as well as get them acquainted to various subjects or topics.
Benefits of Audiobooks for Kids with Learning Disabilities
For children having learning difficulties, audiobooks can be extremely helpful. Children, who are struggling to read, stick to books which includes simple sentences and easy to understand vocabulary. Audiobook is one effective medium where a child listens to the stories being read out loud to them – helping them understand the words and improve their reading comprehension.
Introducing audiobooks to these children helps them make sense of the words or sentences they frequently come across either in books or daily life. Listening to the words being spoken while the child pays attention on the text being read aloud is a good way to associate words with its meaning, pronunciation, etc.
The lack of confidence in children experiencing difficulty while learning stems from frequently being misunderstood at home or in the classroom. Audiobooks can be useful for boosting their confidence and it assists them express their feelings and emotions better. They gain knowledge from these audiobooks which imbibes awareness regarding self-accountability – allowing themselves to focus and develop the manner in which they speak to others.
Tips for Choosing the Right Audiobook
Parents/guardians mostly know what their children are interested in or what topics would attract their attention (if you don’t know, you could simply ask them and they will be more than happy to tell you). Use this knowledge to find a good audiobook for them. Ensure that the audiobook includes genre which is to the child’s liking and not something that you want them to like and listen.
The criteria for a good audiobook –
- The recording quality should be loud and clear. It should be free of any disturbances.
- Voice of the narrator should be clear, pleasant and in an easy-to-understand accent.
- The content or stories of audiobooks should be interesting and exciting.
- Content should be positive.
In the past, audiobooks were widely used by people who were learning a second language, students having learning disabilities, or struggling readers. The audiobooks were not that popular amongst those who were avid readers. But that is not the case today. Audiobooks are now a tried and tested educational method, used by several parents and tutors, to improve the literacy skills of children. Although reading text on print has many benefits, reading aloud to children has additional advantages. The entire article demonstrates the benefits of listening to text being read out aloud – through audiobooks.
This article advocates accepting audiobooks as an entertaining yet educational alternative and not at all to discourage reading written texts. Reading books and listening to audiobooks are both equally important to enhance your child’s learning abilities.