In her article ‘Listen and learn: why audiobooks are great for your child’, Lucy Dimbylow talks to Irene Picton of the National Literacy Trust about the benefits of children’s audiobooks. ‘Listening to a story can be valuable for all sorts of reasons,’ says Irene ‘one benefit of audiobooks is that children have the opportunity to hear speech patterns and rhythms that they might miss in print. They teach them about voice and expression, which can help with their own speaking and articulation.’ Dr. Frank Serafini also notes in his study that ‘reading aloud is the single most important activity for developing proficient reading skills.’ He recommends that teachers and parents should be encouraged to use audiobooks because they not only expose young readers to new vocabulary and support struggling readers but they encourage all children to try and enjoy stories that may otherwise be too advanced or inaccessible.
Developing Young Readers
Audiobooks can help boost the literary skills of all children but they can be a real aid to children who otherwise struggle with reading. As Irene says, ‘If a child finds decoding or comprehension difficult, audiobooks can make literature more accessible.’ It gives them the opportunity to become absorbed in the story without the barrier of difficult text. They can also help kids who have trouble focusing on reading as they can listen whilst doing something else at the same time.
Read-along books and CD/ print book mixes can also help children link pronunciation and comprehension with text. Also, in a world of shortening attention spans with different forms of media constantly vying for our attention, audiobooks could help your child become a more focused and better listener.
Audiobooks also help your child discover stories that are beyond their current reading age. ‘Children develop literacy at different rates, but audiobooks can help them access stories that would be too advanced for them to read,’ says Laurence Howell of Audible. ‘It’s a wonderful way to open up great literature to children.’
One of the great things about audiobooks is that you can listen to them at anytime whether in the car on a long journey, at the kitchen table or in winding the kids down for bedtime. Audiobooks also can keep your kids entertained whilst you get on with other things, as Irene says listening as family can also be ‘a good bonding experience, and improve your own storytelling skills.’ Children’s audiobooks can also now be enjoyed by the whole family as many have music and special effects as well as celebrity narrators such as Stephen Fry, David Walliams and Kate Winslet.
During the holidays – whilst kids are out of school and parents and kids are spending more time together – is the perfect time to invest in some audiobooks. Why not try some of our suggestions for guided reading, to not only help maintain literacy but to entertain the whole family!