Audiobooks: Educational, Free, and Fun!

Date
Category
Family Time, Learning Tips
Author
Mary Lonsdale
audiobooks for children

Audiobooks offer a wonderful way for children to escape real-world stresses and delve into their imagination: perfect at the moment, when most children are being homeschooled and opportunities to explore the outside world are limited. But audiobooks shouldn’t just be confined to long car or plane journeys – here’s why you should be making time for them during the normal school week.

How Audiobooks Can Help Your Child Learn

Audiobooks are undoubtedly entertaining – but that’s not their only benefit. Research conducted by the National Literacy Trust shows that listening to an audiobook requires similar cognitive skills to traditional reading; and, better still, audiobooks nurture language and comprehension skills and improve a reader’s ability to process and retain information in the same way that reading in print does. In addition, listening to audiobooks could enhance your child’s listening skills: the ability to understand information received aurally is extremely important, and research shows that children’s listening skills are declining, which can impact academic success. Studies from the University of Memphis have demonstrated that people are more likely to stick with an audiobook story that doesn’t compel them instantly than they are a printed copy, too, meaning that if your child finds reading hard to get into or doesn’t tend to stick with stories to their conclusion, this could be a perfect solution for building stamina and enthusiasm. Win-win!

Audiobooks are also great for improving confidence when it comes to literature. If a student struggles with comprehension exercises or delving into the deeper meaning of a book, an audiobook can help remove those barriers by making the story more accessible – they’re able to get lost in the story without facing the challenges of hard-to-understand text. If attention spans are short, they’re even able to do something else whilst they listen to the book; though they might not want to, as audiobooks are becoming more and more glamorous! Once seen as a bit fuddy-duddy, a range of exciting new narrators – popular actresses like Scarlett Johansson and comics like Matt Lucas – have given audiobooks a glitzy makeover.

If your child is ready to explore more advanced themes or has an active imagination, a good audiobook offers a path into a more mature world, allowing them to tackle literature that may be too advanced in its printed form. Listening to a skilful narrator will help them pick up pacing and pronunciation tips, too, as well as expanding their vocabulary.

Finally, as an activity, listening to an audiobook is extremely soothing: as we mentioned in our recent blog about homeschooling, finding calming strategies or ways to enjoy TLC during lockdown can be difficult, but snuggling up with an audiobook is a fantastic, fun – and still educational – way to relax.

Where to find free audiobooks

The good news is that listening to high-quality audiobooks doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby. There are plenty of ways to stream or download audiobooks for free; from apps to dedicated streaming services. Here are a few of our favourites:

  1. Library apps. Local public libraries offer an excellent catalogue of free audiobooks, and many of these are available in electronic format, too! All you’ll need is your library card – simply head to your local library website to find out which provider they use (for example, many UK libraries utilise popular apps like BorrowBox or Libby, which members can download for free and then login to to start listening).
  2. Roald Dahl from Puffin. Children’s publisher Puffin offers a Roald Dahl audio app which is chock-full of Roald Dahl’s classic titles, all of which are read by celebrity narrators. The first chapter of each book is free.
  3. The Magic Door. This isn’t a typical audiobook, but we love it – and it’s perfect for parents with an Alexa device. Simply say: ‘Alexa, open The Magic Door’ and be transported on an audio adventure! This interactive game features original stories, during which you make choices, solve riddles, and explore a magical land. Educational fun for the whole family! 
  4. Lit2Go: Lit 2 Go has a brilliant, diverse catalogue of audiobooks – everything from Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson. But the thing we really love about this website is that many of the stories are accompanied by free PDFs which can be downloaded, allowing students to read along with the audiobook or refer back to the text if they wish.
  5. StoryNory. If you’re looking for superb fairy tales and fables, look no further than Story Nory.
  6. Audible Stories. In light of the recent pandemic, Audible announced the launch of their ‘Stories’ platform, which allows anyone – anywhere – to access 200+ free full-length audiobooks. This isn’t a trial and no login is required: simply click on the link and get started. You can listen to as many books as you like, as often as you like, for as long as the platform is available!
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