Listen Up! The Benefits of Using Audiobooks with Children


listen up header with books

I just love books. It’s a big, fat, delicious kind of love. I love the smell of them. I love the texture of the pages. I love how the feel of the pages evolves as a brand new book becomes worn from reading. I love the crispiness of pages whose edges were accidentally dipped in the water of the bathtub or the pool. I love the softness of the pages of a cherished text borrowed from a friend. I love the heft of new hardcover and the worn down lines of a paperback spine absent-mindedly folded backwards.

But, do you know what? (Don’t break up with me over this one . . . .) I also love reading on my tablet. I love having many books that easily fit in my bag and come with me wherever I go. I love hearing about a new book from a friend and ordering it immediately. I love having library books instantly delivered to me on my porch while my little one plays in the sprinklers. I love looking up a new word with the touch of a finger.

Reading — in any form — feeds my soul. It restores me and centers me, brings me back to me. And, boy, do I need it.

I desperately hope my sweet son also discovers the soul-filling pleasure of a good read. I work intentionally to develop and nurture this love of literature in him. We read together. I let him see me reading, and I talk to him about what I am reading. We go to the library and bookstores together, and I spend way too much money at the school’s book fairs.

And, now, my son and I are learning to love audiobooks. Listening to an audiobook has become an essential part of his bedtime routine. Each night, after bath, we take our vitamins, brush our teeth, and read together. This is when my son reads one (actual) book to me, and I read one to him. Then, I put him to bed and allow him to listen to an audiobook before we pray and say goodnight.

Benefits of Audiobooks — Body, Mind, and Spirit

Audiobooks are beneficial to children for many reasons.

  1. Audiobooks are calming. Listening quietly in his room with the lights dim helps my rowdy, overstimulated little boy settle in. He sleeps better. (And, we all sleep better when he sleeps better.)
  2. Audiobooks support the development of attention skills. Without the hyper-saturated, multisensory stimulation that are ever-present elements of screen time, listeners only focus on the words to follow the story and to create imagery in their minds.
  3. Audiobooks improve comprehension and critical thinking skills. As we listen, we are predicting, questioning, confirming, and wondering. All of these skills are required of us in and out of the school setting.
  4. Audiobooks provide a fluent language model. Strong models build language structures and support vocabulary development, improving reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
  5. Audiobooks are accessible and engaging. Without the pressure of actually reading and decoding, audiobooks are less threatening to pre-readers and reluctant readers, yet they include the magic of literature — capturing the hearts and the imaginations of avid readers.

Making It Work — Time and Money

In order to devote an enjoyable chunk of time to listening each night, it is important that we begin our routine early. Bathtime begins for us immediately after dinner. We like to have our little guy in bed and listening by about 7:00 p.m. during the school year, and we like to say goodnight by 7:30 p.m. This can be tricky depending on homework and after-school activities, but we set priorities and try to remain flexible.

Audiobooks are expensive! And, while nurturing my son’s love for literacy is a big priority for me, we certainly have to set limits. Utilizing the public library’s digital library loans have been a game-changer for us. We have library cards at the Fort Worth and North Richland Hills public libraries. When we are ready for a new book (audio or ebook), we check it out right from our tablets, and it is in our hands immediately. You could certainly check out physical audiobooks from your local library, as well. This option is simply more convenient for our family.

Some of Our Favorites

We have enjoyed many audiobooks, but these three have been a few of my first grader’s most favorite. They are chapter books and take several nights to complete. Each of the following is available for digital checkout from the Fort Worth Public Library, along with many more.

  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  • Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Do your children enjoy listening to reading? Have you tried listening to audiobooks with them?


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