Many parents wonder if there are benefits of audiobooks for kids. The short answer is – yes, audiobooks and read to me books offer many benefits for children, no matter where they are in their reading journey.
Listening to audiobooks supports language development, helps children build relationships with others, and promotes lifelong learning. From a young age, listening plays a vital role in developing one’s ability to read. Thus, audiobooks and read to me books provide children with an educational source of entertainment while helping them develop the skills needed to become proficient readers.
So, is it good for kids to listen to audiobooks vs reading? Below, we discuss the various benefits of audiobooks and how they compare to reading.
Looking for audiobooks your kids will love? Check out our list of the top 10 best audiobooks for kids (plus 3 great family audiobooks)!
What is an audiobook, exactly?
An audiobook is a recording of a book read aloud. Therefore, audiobooks allow kids to listen to books rather than read the text. Audiobooks can be accessed through any device that supports audio streaming. This includes smartphones, computers, and tablets.
Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular around the world. This is because they can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and provide many benefits, especially for young readers.
Audiobooks vs Read to Me Books
Audiobooks and read to me books for kids are very similar. However, unlike audiobooks (which are audio-only), read to me books also include text and illustrations. Thus, with read to me books, kids can read the book, look at illustrations, and follow the words while listening to the narrator’s voice.
The benefits of audiobooks discussed below also apply to read to me books. In fact, many parents prefer read to me books over classic audiobooks. This is because read to me books allow children to follow along with the text while listening. As a result, many of the benefits below will be enhanced.
Does listening to audiobooks count as reading?
As a parent, you might wonder – is listening to an audiobook as good as reading? While there are differing views regarding audiobooks vs print books, many studies suggest that listening to audiobooks is equivalent to reading.
Audiobooks undoubtedly provide a different reading experience than physical books. However, the same level of attention is required to comprehend the narrative and build meaning. And although audiobooks may not provide children with the opportunity to practice their decoding skills, studies have found that the same part of the brain is activated when reading words vs hearing words.
In addition, by reducing the cognitive load required to decode words, audiobooks allow children to focus on building their comprehension skills and developing background knowledge. By exposing them to new vocabulary and information, children are better equipped to improve their reading skills. In fact, there have been strong connections found between listening comprehension skills and later reading achievement. Therefore, not only does listening to an audiobook count as reading, but it can also contribute to reading proficiency.
Below, we explore more benefits of audiobooks and discuss how listening to read-aloud books can help your child develop lifelong reading skills.
9 Benefits of Audiobooks vs Reading
Do audiobooks help with reading, and should children listen to audiobooks? Here are nine benefits of audiobooks for parents to consider.
Listening to Audiobooks Boosts Reading Achievement
As children listen to audiobooks, they have the opportunity to practice meaning-making. That is, to practice making sense of a story, its characters, and its settings. This prepares them to better comprehend texts when they read independently. In fact, developing listening comprehension skills with the help of audiobooks has been found to support greater achievement in reading.
Audiobooks Help Improve Vocabulary and Word-Recognition.
When children explore audiobooks, it opens up their world. Through audiobooks, children gain exposure to new and interesting words. As a result, their vocabulary strengthens. In addition, listening to audiobooks allows kids to hear how letter sounds and letter patterns create words. As they improve their vocabulary and understanding of letter sounds and patterns, children can more easily recognize words in text.
Audiobooks Allow Children to Hear What Fluent Reading Sounds Like
Reading fluency, or the ability to accurately read out loud at a reasonable pace and with expression, is an important skill. As children become more fluent readers, they can more quickly recognize words and create meaning from text.
Audiobooks are great for developing this competency. How? Well, the more often a child hears fluent reading, the more likely they are to develop reading fluency themselves. Therefore, listening to audiobooks can help them develop this skill. Audiobooks are especially helpful for students learning a second language and kids who have difficulty reading.
The Benefits of Audiobooks Include an Expanded Knowledge-Base
When children are learning to read, much of their cognitive load is focused on decoding the words on a page. This is especially true for children who struggle with reading. But, with audiobooks, children can explore text through an auditory means. As a result, they can practice comprehension and engage with stories in meaningful ways – without worrying about deciphering words or context.
Overall, by providing exposure to more complex ideas and new vocabulary via audiobooks, kids can build a deeper understanding of content they may not be exposed to through reading.
Audiobooks Make Reading Accessible
Young readers often find that they cannot access the stories they are interested in due to their reading level. Thus, audiobooks give children access to a broader selection of books – even those they may not be able to read independently.
Listening to Read-Aloud Books Helps Children Strengthen Their Imagination
Listening to audiobooks allows children to practice visualizing what is happening in a story. Not only does this support a strong imagination, but it also helps to develop creativity.
The Benefits of Audiobooks Include the Development of Reading Comprehension Skills
Audiobooks promote the development of fundamental comprehension skills. This includes asking questions, making inferences, visualizing, and making connections as children listen. Audiobooks also decrease cognitive load by minimizing the need to decode written words. Therefore, children can focus on implementing and building upon learned comprehension strategies.
Audiobooks Promote a Love of Reading
As we’ve mentioned, new readers are often limited to a selection of books they can read independently. However, audiobooks can open up a broader range of literature. As a result, children can explore their interests and continue to develop their identities.
By expanding the range of stories children have access to, you can help them explore how books create enjoyable and imaginative experiences. Thus, audiobooks offer a way to motivate children to explore different book titles and genres.
An Added Bonus to the Long List of Benefits of Audiobooks – Listening to Audiobooks Inspires Writing Skills
In addition to helping kids develop strong reading skills, audiobooks also promote writing skills. For example, audiobooks expose children to new words and ideas. As a result, their vocabulary and critical thinking improve. In addition, hearing engaging stories inspires imagination and can promote an interest in creative writing.
Benefits of Audiobooks for Struggling Readers
Does your child struggle with reading? If so, you might be asking – can audiobooks help struggling readers? The answer is yes. Here’s how.
Struggling readers are often reluctant to engage with text. In many cases, they are still building their confidence and learning to find joy in reading. By providing struggling readers with access to audiobooks, you can help them in many ways.
First and foremost, audiobooks allow struggling readers to hear what fluent reading sounds like. This helps them build the knowledge necessary to read on their own. Listening to text rather than reading it also frees children from having to decode words. Therefore, they can focus on building an understanding of the text. This fundamental skill is essential to become a successful reader.
Audiobooks also provide access to a wider range of stories and topics. Listening to stories of interest can encourage struggling readers to read the print version of audiobooks they enjoy.
Want more strategies to support a struggling reader? Check out this article – How to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties.
Now that we’ve covered the various benefits of audiobooks, you’re probably wondering where you can find audiobooks for children. Let’s take a look.
How can my child listen to audiobooks?
You will need the proper resources to allow your child to explore audiobooks. But is there an audio book app for kids? Yes, many, in fact – and Booka is one of the best!
Booka is a one-stop shop for kids’ audiobooks and more. This reading app for kids offers numerous benefits for children and parents who are engaging in at-home reading. When you choose Booka, you gain access to exclusive and unique features. This includes Booka’s read-to-me function, which allows children to listen and follow along with the text of a story. With hundreds of books for all ages, using Booka to listen to audiobooks is a no-brainer.
Provide your child with all the benefits of audiobooks and more – Download Booka Today!
*Available on iOS (iPhones and iPads).