When I taught first grade ten years ago, I had a Listening Center in my classroom. I had a tape deck, 6 earphones, and multiple sets of first grade books in one cozy corner.
I knew that a struggling reader would benefit from listening to an audio book. As the story is read aloud, a struggling reader would be able to concentrate on making the story come to life without being bogged down with decoding words.
In a way, an audio book levels the field for all readers because struggling and advanced readers alike can listen together–something that would be impossible to do if an unskilled reader were left to read a challenging book on his own.
My children have listened to numerous audio books—Harry Potter, Percy Jackson series, Magic Tree House, The Inheritance Cycle, the list goes on. Our very first audiobook was played in the car on our way to Disneyland.
Although my children have always been confident readers, I found that listening to audiobooks made them even better readers, not to mention story writers.
My six-year old uses phrases like subtle whisper, frantically searching, and slow pace in her writing. These words I know she picked up from reading because we don’t use these words in our everyday conversation.
Not only does the audiobook help struggling readers, but also widens vocabulary. My daughter listens and engages her older brother in discussions of books that she may not necessarily read on her own. She now appreciates books that more savvy readers read.
I was worried that when they discovered audiobooks that they will stop reading on their own. On the contrary, they developed an even more insatiable appetite to read independently. Sometimes, they even choose to read books that they have already listened to because they like it so much.
The best benefit of an audiobook for me is listening with my children. Since we listen to the story in the car, we have mini book club discussions on our way to school.
I can even use the characters in the stories to stress a point when I am in my mommy-teacher moment like, “Remember, Galbatorix who made bad choices? Tell me again the consequences of his actions?”
In a nutshell, listening to audio books can:
- help improve vocabulary
- allow a child to read beyond their reading level
- help their creativity in writing
- improve the ability to read aloud with expression