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.
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: