Many people have heard about audiobooks, but very few realize how helpful they can be. Audiobooks can introduce a new world of reading for many people. Oftentimes, after work or school, people are restless or physically tired. Additionally, some people are reluctant to read, and would rather watch TV, use electronics, or do anything else. And some people, such as those with Dyslexia, find reading difficult.
Audiobooks are a fun and simple way for all people to enjoy reading, strengthen reading, or supplement their reading.
Here are some important facts about audiobooks, and how they can be good for you.
Studies show that a child’s vocabulary predicts later reading skills. Conversationally, many of us use about 10,000 words. But people who read, hear many more words, sometimes referred to as “rare words.” The strength of children’s vocabulary depends on how many rare words they know. Audiobooks, even a few minutes daily, significantly improves vocabulary (and therefore reading).
Audiobooks are a safe and easy way to introduce students to books above their reading level, particularly if the child lacks interest in harder books.
Interpretation of Text
Audiobooks can also model good interpretive reading, with good voice development and in some cases, acting by the narrator. Interpretative reading helps to increase a child’s imagination and enjoyment of what they read.
By listening to a book being read, the narrator can help highlight the humor in books, something that can be hard to do if you are reading quickly or have a hard time grasping social content. They emphasize reading as a source of pleasure rather than a skill, and make children eager to learn how to read.
Audiobooks can be done as a group or family. They can bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations. When attending a conference with a colleague a few years back, we completed a mystery novel on the way back. The novel helped bridge some awkward silence and provided relief for when we were too tired to talk after a few busy days.
Hearing a book read can help a person focus on the sounds of words read without interruption and provides a model of fluent reading. It also improves the skills of listening, understanding what is being read, and attention for verbal information. All of these skills are necessary to be an effective reader and communicator.
You Can Move
If a person is active, they can move while listening! So children who have a hard time sitting can often play quietly with blocks or dolls while listening. They may walk around the room, draw, or paint as well. Adults can cook, clean, or organize. The activity level can help the person listen for longer periods of time, but also help them retain information.
Recent research has found that by just listening, with no follow-along-in-the-book or other reading intervention added, students experienced rapid gains in reading comprehension and reading motivation. These increases came after students listened for twenty minutes three times per week in the afternoon program at school, and an additional two twenty-minute sessions at home. If you are interested in morevinformation on research of audiobooks, the wonderful Decoding Dyslexia has written an article on research on audiobooks.
What are some ways to obtain audiobooks?
Your public library
Public libraries can be an economical source with many choices. Many of these books are free to listen to for a few weeks at a time, and can be downloaded to your phone or device through the Overdrive app.
Audible is a paid service that allows you to download audiobooks to your phone or device through an app.
Learning Ally is a paid service that provides audiobooks, as well as recorded textbooks for students.
A simple google search for audiobooks can provide you the names of many audiobook services.
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