Audiobooks Are Great Tools to Support Children with Dyslexia - Clever Noodle

Audiobooks Are Great Tools to Support Children with Dyslexia

Jacquelyn Davis

By Jacquelyn Davis, national literacy expert and Founder of Clever Noodle

When my son was diagnosed with dyslexia, I was searching for ways to support him.  A professor at the University of Virginia suggested I start him on audiobooks immediately. She said audiobooks would help him keep up with his peers and learn to love stories - even though reading at the time was extremely frustrating and anxiety inducing.  

She was right!  Audiobooks are a great resource for all children, especially those with dyslexia.  

Dyslexia is a learning difference that affects a person's ability to read, write, and spell. It can make traditional reading methods challenging and frustrating for children with dyslexia. However, audiobooks provide an alternative way to access and enjoy literature.

Here’s Why Audiobooks are Great for Children with Dyslexia: 

  1. Allows for Audio Processing Audiobooks support audio processing of information instead of visual processing. This means that children with dyslexia can listen to a book being read aloud and comprehend the content without struggling to decode (sound out) words or sentences. By listening to audiobooks, children with dyslexia can focus on the story, characters, and themes of the book – and create the critical visual images mentally – without the barriers that traditional print reading presents.

  2. Improves Vocabulary: Audiobooks help children with dyslexia improve their vocabulary. Learning the meaning of words in context is the best method to build vocabulary.  But for children who struggle to read print, their vocabulary can be limited by their level of reading print text.  Audiobooks allows children to keep pace with their peers by reading more advanced texts than are accessible at that point in time – and build their vocabularies accordingly. For our son, he dove into much more advanced texts – as dyslexic children often enjoy high comprehension skills - and boosted his vocabulary well above his school grade level. 

  3. Develops Syntax Understanding:  Audiobooks help children develop their overall understanding of the structure of our language.  By listening to skilled narrators, children can learn proper pronunciation, intonation, and expression in a natural and engaging way. This can enhance their overall language development, writing skills, and make them more confident in their verbal communication skills as well.  

  4. Advances Comprehension:  Building vocabulary is critical to comprehension – as is background knowledge.  Children need to learn about the world and many topics with some depth to have enough information to make meaning of language.  For children who struggle with the mechanics of reading print, audiobooks enable them to access text on many subjects and genres.  

  5. Boosts Self-esteem and Confidence: Reading challenges can often lead to feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and low self-esteem. By providing an alternative and accessible way to enjoy literature, audiobooks can help children with dyslexia feel successful and accomplished. They can experience the joy of storytelling and expand their imagination without the limitations of their reading challenge.

  6. Most Importantly, Helps Stay on Track with Peers: Children who are strong readers often read more as they continue to move up the elementary grade levels. Children who struggle read very little.  So, those that are already ahead move farther ahead and create a bigger gap with those who struggle.  It’s called the Matthew Effect.  Audiobooks can help children with dyslexia keep up with their background knowledge, vocabulary, and syntax so as their reading skills improve they are more able to meet their peers at that point in the trajectory, rather than being left further behind.  

Overall, audiobooks are a valuable tool for all children, but are particularly helpful for children with dyslexia. By providing an accessible, engaging, and empowering way to experience literature, audiobooks can support the learning and development of children with dyslexia and help them unlock their full potential.