Are audiobooks good for kids?

Are audiobooks good for kids?

Audiobooks hold a charm distinct from traditional books, but questions arise about their impact on young readers. Are audiobooks as beneficial as reading, or do they serve a different purpose in a child's development? This article explores audiobooks' multifaceted role in children's lives, weighing their advantages and considering any potential downsides.

Benefits of Audiobooks for kids

Audiobooks as a hook

 Audiobooks can make literature more accessible and engaging, especially for reluctant readers or those with learning disabilities. This engagement can spark an interest in stories and content, potentially motivating children to explore the written versions of their favourite audiobooks.

Developing Listening and Comprehension Skills

Good listening skills are fundamental to literacy. We have another article to help you detect if your kids struggle with reading comprehension. Audiobooks can help develop these skills, which are transferable to reading. Improved comprehension through listening can encourage children to seek out the joy of understanding stories through reading as well.

Building Confidence:

For children struggling with reading, audiobooks can provide a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment in stories without the stress of decoding text. Unconfident readers might see a book and worry about getting through it. Audiobooks act as a stepping stone to traditional reading.

Growing Vocabulary

Audiobooks expose children to a rich and diverse vocabulary, often more advanced than they might encounter in day-to-day conversations. Kids can use the context to understand the words, which they might struggle to do when decoding text. Knowing the meaning of more words will make traditional reading more enjoyable.

Practicalities

Audiobooks are a good way for kids to amuse themselves on journies without cutting themselves off from the travelling experience. While listening to stories, they can still watch the world through a window. Looking at screens and even books can cause travel sickness in some kids, so audiobooks are a great solution for them.

How to use audiobooks with kids

Combine with books

Kids' reading skills will grow if they follow the text while listening to an audiobook. This isn't to suggest that audiobooks should replace shared reading with parents, as parents can also engage kids with questions and thoughts about the story.

There are many reasons why parents reading stories to kids are better than audiobooks!

Book apps are especially good for combining text and audio; many will have word highlighting that keeps pace with the narration. If you match a physical book with an audiobook, ensure they match. Sometimes, audiobooks are abridged or slightly deviate from the original text.

Share an audiobook

Some of the best audiobooks have world-class narrators who bring stories to life. Listen and enjoy the story alongside your child. This can be a good way to share your favourite childhood stories with kids who might feel they are too dated for them to enjoy.

A shared audiobook during car journies turns them into learning experiences.

Time and place

Show kids that audiobooks are another option, not a replacement for books. They make sense for learning while travelling, for example. However, they are less useful for quick reference as they can't skim them for the key information.

Show kids that audiobooks are another option, not a replacement for books. They make sense for learning while travelling, for example. However, they are less useful for quick reference as they can't skim them for the key information.

Do audiobooks have downsides for kids?

Avoiding practice

Kids can start to feel that playing an audiobook is a stand-in for other learning activities, such as reading practice. Kids might feel that listening to an audiobook means they have done their reading practice.

Be careful to ensure that using audiobooks involves active listening and not playing some background noise while doing something else.

Reduced Interaction with Text

Audiobooks eliminate the visual interaction with words and sentences. This visual interaction is crucial for learning spelling, recognising sight words, and understanding text structure, all essential literacy components.

Ensure audiobooks become additions to kids' learning activities and not replacements.

Dependency on audiobooks

One concern is that over-reliance on audiobooks might lead children to prefer listening over reading. This dependency could potentially reduce their motivation to engage with traditional text-based reading, delaying the development of reading and comprehension skills.

Ensure that you create a balanced reading routine for kids. Add traditional book apps to their devices alongside the audiobook apps and encourage their use.

While there are concerns that audiobooks might reduce the motivation to engage with traditional reading, they also offer significant benefits in developing listening skills, building confidence, and fostering a love for stories. The key lies in finding a balanced approach where audiobooks complement rather than replace traditional reading practices.

Using audiobooks won't mean you stop guiding children towards reading traditional books. Teachers won't stop supporting kids' literacy because they can listen to audiobooks.

There are many distractions that kids turn towards to avoid reading; audiobooks at least take them a step closer to the goal of reading.

There are options to control your child's use of audiobooks on their devices. You could use a screen control app to turn off certain apps simultaneously. For example, you could make audiobook apps active only at bedtime.

 

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