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3 Reasons Audiobooks Are Worth Trying with Your Kids


I finished a 496 page book last week, you might think, well, what's the big deal about that?


Well, for one, that’s almost 500 pages! And with my busy schedule with work and family that was a huge accomplishment to finish that length of a book in a week!


Let me tell you how I did it: I finished it by listening to an audiobook! Let me be clear I am an old fashioned "I love to smell the pages of fresh pages from a book" kind of reader and I still read physical books. I haven't abandoned holding a book in my hand but I was open to trying out Audiobooks.


I signed up for the free-trial with Audible.com and absolutely loved the flexibility of reading on the go with access to read my books anytime and anywhere.


One great thing about audiobooks are how easy accessible they are for readers. Students can easily download audiobooks for free from your local library through the cloud, just as you would check out the physical copy of the book in person at your library, or access with a paid membership from Audible like I did.

As a literacy educator I am thrilled to know that Audiobooks can level the playing field with struggling readers, reluctant readers, nonreaders or students with reading disabilities such as dyslexia. 65% of American 4th and 8th graders (grades American students are tested with NAEP) are reading below grade level.


In other words, these students can not successfully read and comprehend grade level literature and content area subjects such as Science and History. There are three main reasons that school-aged students struggle with reading:

  • Lack of comprehension

  • Weak vocabulary

  • Low Engagement

Fortunately, with audiobooks, students are able to just listen to what has been read, they are not stressed about decoding and trying to figure out how to sound out a word. Students are not overwhelmed by trying to figure out the meaning of a new vocabulary word that they've never heard of before. Also, students are not focused on how slow they read and how they sound.


With Audiobooks these things are taken away and students are able to just listen and enjoy the story. As a result, comprehension scores improve and increase over time.




How Audiobooks Improves Comprehension


We know that the ultimate goal of our readers is for them to be able to understand or comprehend what they've just read.


There are two components of comprehension : reading comprehension and listening comprehension.


Now reading comprehension is when students are able to answer higher level thinking questions about what was read by reading the book themselves. Does your child struggle with this? Can they give a full, complete, and detail retell about a reading passage or book?


Researchers have found that listening comprehension surpasses reading comprehension. There are numerous studies that show children can listen and understand more complex ideas than they can actually read and decode.


In turn, reading comprehension will inevitably increase after being exposed to challenging vocabulary (more on vocabulary later) and hearing fluent reading from engaging narrators in Audiobooks.


The narrators of these audiobooks use dramatic enhancements and different tones in their voices to make the book come "alive" for children.

If you have a child who struggles with reading comprehension the listening comprehension findings are reassuring. This is one reason why I encourage my students to tap into reading Audiobooks.


In my Ivy League-Ish Online Reading Academy two of my dyslexic students have successfully completed an above grade level 240 page chapter book in one month with excellent comprehension! They are set to read their second book as a part of their monthly membership.


My students are reading roughly four to five chapters a week. How would you feel if your child read four to five chapters a week by themselves?


Chest bump, right? I know, me too! 🎉


How Audiobooks Expand Vocabulary and Word Knowledge

70% of students reading struggles can be attributed to a lack of vocabulary. Audiobooks allow students to hear explicit sounds of letters and patterns that form words. This helps students engage and gain that exposure to more vocabulary words, which ultimately improves vocabulary.


Many students are not being exposed to sophisticated language, mainly in part, because students are reading books that are below grade level.

They are overly focused on word parsing and decoding. So they're not actually been exposed to what the other students are reading. You might have a ninth grader, but they might still be reading books at a third or fourth grade level because of low vocabulary. That's frustrating for students especially when school expectations says they perform academically on grade level assignments and standardized tests despite their reading level.


The recommended “words per day” a child should hear in their early years is around 30,000. Students who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared when they see those words in print even in the older grades.


Vocabulary acquisition is one of the greatest predictors of education success.


Reading with Audiobooks are a great way to level their vocabulary game and increase their language skills with a robust vocabulary!




Engagement Changer

Do you have a child that will not finish their reading, homework, or even things around the house you've asked him to do? If they are bored or disengaged finishing a reading task is hard to do.


High engaged students are persistent when faced with reading difficulties. Audiobooks captivates the imagination through the animated voices that are doing the reading for students. The narrator is in "character" and breathes life into the character they are reading about. Kids love the varying voices heard through the narrations!


As you can see there are some many advantages to Audiobooks! If you are still wondering if the reading benefits of Audiobooks as I've mentioned here are as good as it sounds--remember listening to an audiobook is essentially the same as reading in print. The only difference is that reading text requires decoding and listening to an audiobook does not.


Just remember that when you're presenting audiobooks to your child, don't forget this is just one option to reading with your child. Reading traditionally print books and reading aloud with your child is still a must!


However, it motivates those struggling and reluctant readers who need to understand a concept to build their understanding of an idea that they might be learned in school before they are exposed to that subject matter.


So I do love this idea and encourage you to add this to your toolbox of resources to advance your child's reading. I know I did!


Happy Audiobook Reading!


About the Author

Shauntelle is a former classroom teacher turned homeschool mom and now business owner. She is a reading specialist who teaches students how to discover the joy and power of reading and learning as director of the Ahead Of The Curve Homeschool Academy that offers affordable live virtual classes that are taught by certified and experienced teachers who challenges, loves, and build stronger children prepared for higher education. Her Ph.D. research is the role of Parental Involvement and Literacy achievement. In Shauntelle's spare time she is reading, watching basketball, and laughing with her husband and daughter Author Madelyn Grace.

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