Audiobooks are Fantastic Literacy Tools
We’ve discovered we LOVE audiobooks! Want to know why? Read on ...
Recently, our family went on a road trip that saw us driving in the car for many, many hours over numerous days.
During all those hours of travelling, our 8 & 10 yr old boys NEVER once asked “Are we there yet?” How is this possible considering questions such as “How much longer?” are normally asked the moment any child sits in a car?
Well I could say that we’ve got amazing children (which of course is true!) but the answer is more honestly because of audio books!
Yes ... you read correctly ... audiobooks! Audiobooks are amazing!
During the long hours of our journey, we listened to an audio series entitled “Ranger’s Apprentice”, by John Flanagan. These stories literally had the whole family enthralled!
When I say enthralled, I mean so much so that after arriving at our destination, we’d often continue to sit in the car listening to the story. The narrator had captivated us and we just had to discover what was going to happen next!!!
We have been listening to audio stories for a while, but it wasn’t really until this recent trip that I stopped to consider the real value of audio books. From experience, this is what I’ve discovered ...
Audiobooks Introduce New Vocabulary, Accents and Ideas
When my son first started listening to the Ranger’s Apprentice series, he would often ask me what different words meant. The truth is that often I didn’t know as I’d never heard of some of the terms he mentioned. For example, what exactly is a 'cowl'? This just goes to prove that everyone can learn some new through audio books!
Audiobooks Teach Pronunciation
Because audio books are by nature spoken language, new vocabulary is introduced in a way that allows listeners to hear the correct pronunciation. The guess work of trying to articulate a new word is therefore removed.
Audiobooks Extend Vocabulary
Good quality literature often incorporates words which don’t normally appear in everyday conversations. Such words make their way into family conversations through audio stories!
Audiobooks Strengthen Imagination
This is one of the main reasons I love audio books. Well written and narrated stories transport listeners into the story itself by painting vivid pictures in listeners' minds. Listeners find themselves imagining what coarse coat of the horse feels like; how the thick golden straw smells and sounds under foot as they walk into the stable; how the light filters through the cracks in the walls causing dust particles to dance on the barely stirring air. In other words, audio stories have the ability to carry the listener into the story!
Audiobooks Develop Listening Skills and Concentration
Listening skills are an important component of communication and are essential life skills. Audio books strengthen children’s listening skills and are therefore a very valuable tool.
Audiobooks Extend Language Comprehension
When listening to audio stories, children are able to listening to language that is above their normal reading ability. This is especially important for children who are struggling with reading and where reading skills are below their comprehension levels.
Audiobooks Make the Most of Time
There are many times in life when routine tasks take up time (e.g., doing chores, travelling, cooking, exercising, etc.). Often these tasks do not allow multi-tasking as you can’t read while doing them. For example, it’s impossible (and extremely dangerous ... as well as illegal) to read a book while driving! However, it is possible to drive while listening to an audio story!
We often listen to audio stories while doing art activities. What could be more relaxing that doodling while listening to an enchanting story told by a creative narrator? Audiobooks and art are the perfect combination!
Audiobooks are Fantastic for Car Sickness
One of our children often gets car sick while reading in a moving vehicle. Audio stories allow him to enjoy stories without becoming ill as he can keep his head up and look out the window which prevents car sickness from occurring. Audio stories let our son enjoy a literacy experience even when he can’t read!
Audiobooks Allow Listeners to Observe
Also, audio stories allow children to observe the passing scenery when travelling. They are free to notice changes in the landscape, see different animals/people/places/things ... all of which would have been missed if they were reading a book.
Audiobooks Bring Stories to Life
Many narrators are actors who are experts in vocalizations of characters, timing and tone.
In fact, a great narrator will enrich the story making it even more enthralling so that children experience the power of speech and drama.
Audiobooks Allow Children to Experience the Flow of Text
Written words can be misinterpreted, especially when sarcasm is used. Audio stories allow the listener to hear the phrasing, rhythm and emphasis so that the meaning of the text is made clearer.
Audiobooks Positively Influence Children’s Writing Abilities
Since we’ve been listening to audiobooks, I’ve noticed a positive influence on our children’s ability to write. Their stories have become more descriptive. The vocabulary used has been expanded. The use of adverbs and adjectives has increased. Their sentences have become more complex and ideas are beginning to be expressed with more fluency and depth.
For me, this is a very powerful reason why audio books should be part of children’s literacy development.
Audiobooks are Relaxing and Enjoyable
Finally, it is must be said that audiobooks make times that can otherwise be tedious (e.g., travel for hours in the car, doing chores, etc.) relaxing.
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