FROM toddlers to young adults, children of all ages enjoy listening to stories.
These stories can be read aloud to them in person, or come in the form of audiobooks. Although audiobooks have traditionally been recommended by reading experts as an excellent resource for helping nonreaders, beginning readers, reluctant readers or struggling readers access high-quality literature and enjoy books, they are a wonderful tool to use with average, avid and good readers as well.
Audiobooks offer many benefits for all students. They can be used to: improve listening and comprehension skills, increase vocabulary, teach the proper pronunciation of words, teach children how to "see" a story by using imagination instead of illustrations, get them motivated to read more books by an author they have been introduced to through an audiobook, and provide an additional enjoyable family-friendly activity. Hearing a book read on tape helps children see how the words on the page can come alive. It helps them focus on the sounds of words read without interruption and provides them with a model of fluent, expressive reading. Audiobooks also give young children an important introduction to listening – a skill that they must develop in order to learn how to read.
In most audiobooks for children, the reading is done by the authors, professional narrators or professional actors. In addition, the text is accompanied by sound effects and/or musical pieces that are a lot of fun for young children. These adaptations enhance the story and your child’s listening experience. Some audiobooks for children use several actors to recreate the full cast of characters in each story. In addition, usually page-turn signals are included on one side of the tape while the other side contains an uninterrupted recorded reading that is accompanied by a hard copy of the book.
Many of the audiobooks for teenagers and young adults are also read by the authors, professional narrators or professional actors. In addition, many of the recordings include commentary by the author. This information can provide students with a connection to the author as well as insight into the author's thoughts and the writing process.
Some parents may erroneously believe that audiobooks make their children lazy or unmotivated to read on their own. However, that is not the case. Narrators of audiobooks tend to embellish their storytelling with silly voices and dramatic enhancements. They emphasize reading as a source of pleasure rather than a skill, and make children eager to learn how to read. In addition, children go through many years of development when their reading ability is lower than their intellectual capacity. That is when it is particularly important to read aloud to your children and expose them to children's audiobooks.
Audiobooks can be taken along almost anywhere from car trips to car repair shops, or they can be used while you and your children are waiting for a dentist's or doctor’s appointment at their office. There are some terrific audiobooks for children, teens and young adults that can be found at the public library, in bookstores, and online. A variety of free audio stories can be downloaded from many sources such as Audible at www.audible.com or Storynory at www.storynory.com.
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.E., MA, is a teacher with 25 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at]yahoo.com with your questions or comments.