I sometimes get asked if audiobooks are a bad thing. And, my answer to that is a flat out no. For some people, this is the only way they find time to read. I know I have enjoyed some really great books on “tape.” I even recall a road trip where our family listened to Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, on audiotape and at the end of it, my entire family was in tears. So, yes, I love audiobooks.
However, I wouldn’t recommend only relying on audiobooks for your child’s form of reading. The problem with that is if they only hear the written word, they are not being exposed to those words in writing. It is when they see the words that they really get to understand what they are reading. Listening to books on “tape” is a great way to hear the text. This is especially important if their families don’t have time to read to them aloud. It is when they hear the text, they learn the nuances of the language. This is vital to their language development. I would still recommend the written text be accompanied with the audio text, but when that won’t work, listening to stories is very valuable on its own.
I have had many students who suffer from dyslexia and one thing that actually helped them to become successful in the classroom, was listening to audiobooks. I would provide them with a hard copy of the book and then they would listen to the words as they read along with the audio. It made for a rich reading experience for them. They felt supported and got much more from what we were reading.
An audiobook can give a reader a break from the text, and for some kiddos that struggle to make mental pictures of their reading, this is the best way to support their imagination as they read. Some kids take longer to develop this sense of imagery, so listening while also reading along provides the support they need to make those mental images.
The more we can expose our students to written text, the better their language skills will be supported. But, in the end, audio books are not a bad thing. They are just another tool in the toolbox to support reading and building a love for the written language.
I tutors students in elementary in math, reading, and writing. If you are looking for someone to support your child’s learning, feel free to reach out to me.
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