Audiobooks Are Not Cheating - and Actually Can be a Valuable Use of Screens - Clever Noodle

Audiobooks Are Not Cheating - and Actually Can be a Valuable Use of Screens

Jacquelyn Davis

If you’re like me, you spend too much time struggling to get your kids off screens, focused on something more creative and productive.  But, there’s a good use for screens: audiobooks.  And, you don’t even have to feel guilty about using them. 

“Reading” using an audiobook is not cheating.  While we still want children reading 20+ minutes a day of print material to continue to develop their fluency (pace and accuracy of reading) and to build their reading stamina, audiobooks can be a great complement.  

Audiobooks are a valuable resource for all children, regardless of whether they have any specific learning challenges. Here’s why listening to audiobooks should be guilt-free pleasures (and learning tools):

  1. Improves Listening Skills: Listening to audiobooks helps children develop and enhance their listening skills. They learn to focus, concentrate, and follow along with the narration, which can improve their overall listening comprehension.
  1. Enhances Vocabulary: Audiobooks expose children to a wide range of new vocabulary.  Learning words in context is the best way to build vocabulary, and audiobooks sometimes help children explore subjects and genres beyond the topics they choose to read about in print. They also can stretch a child to explore material above their current print reading level and make up-level text accessible. 
  1. Develops Syntax Understanding: Syntax is the arrangement of words to form phrases, clauses and sentences aligned to language rules.  Put simply, it’s how our language is structured. By listening to well-narrated books, children can learn syntax implicitly.  This will inform their writing structure and understanding of the English language. 
  1. Promotes Imagination and Creativity: Audiobooks engage children's imagination and creativity as they visualize the characters, settings, and events described in the story. It allows them to create mental images and immerse themselves in the narrative. 
  1. Encourages Brain Development: Audiobooks provide a multisensory learning experience by combining auditory input with visual imagery created in the mind. This can enhance comprehension and retention of the story, and boost print reading skills.
  1. Fosters a Love for Literature: Audiobooks can instill a love for literature and storytelling in children. By exposing them to a variety of genres, authors, and narratives, audiobooks can spark an interest in reading, a broader range of topics, and encourage a lifelong love of books.

Listening to audiobooks can complement traditional print reading and support literacy development in children. It can improve reading fluency, comprehension, and storytelling skills. Audiobooks offer a unique and valuable way for all children to enjoy literature, improve their listening skills, enhance their vocabulary, and foster a love for reading. Whether for entertainment, education, or relaxation, audiobooks provide a versatile and engaging platform for children to explore the world of stories and imagination.

Note: Most public libraries have the Libby system that provides free access to thousands of audiobooks.

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