Use Audiobooks As Writing Prompts

Using audiobooks as writing prompts is a fantastically easy way to effectively springboard young writers into writing.
Using Audiobooks as Writing Prompts

For many children (and adults), being asked to write a story on a blank piece of paper can be very daunting. Using audiobooks can remove the daunting aspect of the task and empower the listener to become a writer very quickly.

Here’s how we do it ...

Choose Enthralling Audiobook

First, find an audiobook which grabs the listener’s attention and imagination. This is really important! The more engaged the listener is with the story, the easier it’ll be to use the story as a writing prompt.

Start Listening to the Audiobook

Next, settle in for some listening time. Turn on the audiobook, relax and enjoy listening to the story together. A couple of comfy cushions and a delicious drink would fit in well about now! Not only does this begin to tune the listener's mind into the story, it will help the listener to relax. Writing when you're relaxed is definitely easier that when your stressed!


Now comes the sneaky bit. When the story gets to the stage where everyone is on the edge of their chairs, eager to know what’s going to happen next ... turn the story off!

Yes, you read correctly! Stop the audiobook!

Once all the protesting dies down, ask the listeners to become the writers and write the next part of the story themselves. How will the character in the story solve the problem/react to the situation? What will he/she do? Will something /someone else be introduced to the story? Will something unexpected happen?

In other words, encourage the listener to write down what they think will happen next.

Why Use Audiobooks As Writing Prompts?

Audiobooks provide scaffolding which support children's writing efforts

By using an audiobook like this, you’re allowing the author and narrator to set the scene, introduce the characters and start the plot. Everything’s been established.
However, more importantly, the imagination of the listener has been ignited and now it’s just a matter of continuing in the path that has already been started in the audiobook.

Time Limits May Help

If necessary, set a time limit. Sometimes a race against the clock will help children focus so they get their words on the paper quickly. This is especially important for reluctant writers who will find comfort in the fact that they only have to write for a limited amount of time as opposed to what might seem like an eternity!

Alternatively, extend the activity with an artistic component by encouraging the listener/writer to add an illustration to their version of the story.

Encourage the Listener/Writer to Become the Narrator

Next, encourage the listener/writer to take on another new role and become the narrator as they read their own writing. Each person will often take the story in a different!

During one of our writing sessions in which we used audiobooks as writing prompts, I was fascinated to see that our two boys both went in different directions with their writing. One of our young fellows continued the story, writing in a manner similar to the author of the audiobook. The story moved forward in a logical sequence.

The other young writer, however, decided to take a different approach. In his writing, he began conversing with the narrator about the story – pointing out difficulties that he figured needed to be addressed. He included answers he thought the narrator would use in reply. It was a humorous take on the situation.

In both cases, both boys used the audiobook as a writing prompt to set in motion words of their own.

Audiobooks are Valuable Literacy Tools

Finally, Turn the Audiobook Back On

Of course, once everyone’s finished, you can switich the audiobook on again and find out how the author continued on with the story.

For us, using audiobooks as writing prompts is an effective way of encouraging children to write. I’d love to hear about your experiences with audiobooks as writing prompts. Feel free to leave a comment on this post or on our Facebook page.

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Return to the Articles List for other children's learning activities or children's book reviews.

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