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We all know – or should anyway – about the benefits of reading. As a parent, you have probably already seen first-hand how a good story has the power to captivate a child. Reading with your child is possibly one of the most enchanting pleasures of life – not only do you get to introduce them to a multiverse filled with fantastical new worlds and words, you’re helping them take the first steps toward learning and literacy.
Audiobooks boost literacy and listening skills, motivate disinterested readers and engage kids with learning disabilities
While reading with your child has its benefits, audiobooks can help in a wholly different way. As it turns out, scientists have found that listening is linked to early literacy skills. There’s a clear correlation between how well children process sound, with reading ability later on.
Audiobooks also deliver an extra advantage over reading, argue educators such as Mary Ann Scheuer, who blogs at Great Kid Books. Books require a reader to focus on decoding each word, whereas listening to a story frees up the listener to truly focus on the essentials of the story, and not the words.
This way, audiobooks can engage children who might otherwise shy away from reading. By removing the pressure to read, audiobooks appeal to children struggling with ADD or ADHD. Listening to rich, well-told stories can help these children build up their vocabulary (another predictor of later learning success). For children with already large vocabularies, listening to stories can further develop their language skills.
Many teachers say listening to audiobooks can be the hook that draws children into the world of reading. Many often go on to read the print version after listening to the audiobook. In fact, playing the audiobook while reading the text can help children gain additional fluency – not only will they learn about punctuation, enunciation and phrasing, it can also boost their listening comprehension skills as well.
If you’d like to give audiobooks a try, here are some pointers:
1. Don’t overload your child
It might be tempting to multitask while listening to an audiobook, but try to reduce the amount of stimuli in the environment at the start. Some children might be more comfortable with something to fidget with or doodle on. Or try introducing audiobooks during long drives in the car or long commutes on public transport.
2. Start simple
You want to make the experience as inviting and enjoyable as possible, so don’t overwhelm your child with a long, complicated story from the get go. Try Collins First English Words, which features themed episodes with songs and games.
3. Check out the classics
There’s a reason fairy tales and other fables have remained popular through the ages – their classic themes will forever appeal to the young, and the young at heart. Try Ladybird First Favourite Tales, which features perennial favourites such as Cinderella, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk and more.
4. Focus on what’s important
If you are using audiobooks to help your child develop specific literacy skills, look for an audiobook that has been specially developed to meet that need. For example, if your child wants to improve his listening comprehension skills in primary school, try this audiobook with exercises and activities designed to progressively develop those skills.
Audiobooks can be awesome in many way, but they aren’t a total substitute for reading to your child – it’s pretty hard to snuggle up with your child while they’re listening to an audiobook you can’t hear. So remember to find the time to sit down and read a story, even if it’s only once in a while. You won’t regret it.