Audiobooks And Literacy

A new research study confirms that listening to audiobooks can have a powerful impact on literacy development. This study joins a growing body of research on the subject. Although the study does have some limitations, a few significant takeaways are:

  • Listening to audiobooks increases reading comprehension and vocabulary.
  • Audiobooks promote a love of reading.
  • Audiobooks aren't just for ESL learners or struggling readers.  They can also help grade level and gifted students. In other words, audiobooks can positively impact the literacy development of all students.
  • The benefits happen even if the students are not reading along with the book; just listening does the trick.

This seems like a good time to remind you that we have a number of audiobooks in our library. In addition, students can stream them from the McAuliffe Library website. Also, an organization called SYNCH is offering free downloadable audiobooks to teens all summer long. Finally, the Denver Public Library offers free regular and downloadable audiobooks.

Educator Denise Johnson suggests using audiobooks to:

  • Introduce students to books above their reading level
  • Model good interpretive reading
  • Highlight the humor in books
  • Introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider
  • Introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
  • Make more accessible difficult dialects or accents, Old English, and old-fashioned literary styles
  • Provide a bridge to important but difficult topics of discussion (such as suicide and bullying) for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations
  • Recapture "the essence and the delights of hearing stories beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers" (Baskin & Harris, 1995, p. 376)

Please let me know if you would like help choosing or accessing audiobooks for yourselves or your families. For those of you planning to take road trips this summer, I highly recommend listening to audiobooks as you look out your car windows at the beautiful American landscape rolling by. Nothing promotes discussion within a family like listening to a good book together!

Thanks for listening!

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