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What is an Audio Book?

I highly recommend all struggling readers listen to audio books.  Audio books, also known as “talking books,” are books read aloud by a single artist or ensemble of voice artists.  A recording of the text can be listened to on almost any device with an internet connection, including Smartphones, computers, and tablets.

Many students also benefit from a combination of aural and visual reading (following the text of the story while listening to its audio version), in which case a monthly subscription to Kindle through Amazon,, or another ebook source would be beneficial.  On Kindle, after downloading the optional dictionary, a student is able to highlight an unknown word and check its definition without changing screens, making Kindle a convenient and empowering option!

Find Audio Books!

Audio books can be accessed through various means:

  • Free “Libby” library reading app with a local library card
  • Reader’s Digest provides a list of 17 Places to Get Audiobooks for Free Online
  • Accessible on through Amazon (paid subscription)
  • Accessible on (paid subscription)

Cognitive and Emotional Benefits of Audio Books

Listening to a captivating story takes less effort than reading while providing the same cognitive and emotional benefits as reading –

Audio Book Bonuses

  • Activates the imagination
  • Improves focus and attention span
  • Improves memory
  • Boosts mental health by reducing negative thinking
  • Helps develop empathy
  • Activates the areas of the brain known for processing language
  • The opportunity to hear letter sounds and hear letter patterns that form words
    • Improves oral communication skills:  pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary, concepts
    • Improves auditory processing and phonemic awareness
      • absolutely vital to reading skill development!
    • Builds critical listening skills
    • Builds critical thinking and improve comprehension skills
  • Boosts time management and reduces stress by allowing us to listen while we exercise or drive or complete mundane tasks like cleaning or doing dishes or folding laundry
  • Provides excellent entertainment value while providing relaxation for the eyes from digital screens

A word of encouragement!  I am currently working with a student in Grade 6 (since fall of 2021) who could not print the letters of the alphabet or read any words when he began being tutored.  Aside from his fascination with video games, he had (and maintains) a voracious appetite for audio books.  He listens to adventure audio books at or beyond his grade level, which gives him a social connection point with his peers who do not struggle with reading.  It is obvious from conversing with him that the audio books have had a significant positive impact on his oral communication skills and auditory processing skills.  He has a sizeable vocabulary and a strong ability to discriminate between sounds. Identifying and manipulating individual sounds in words is know as phonemic awareness and is integral to reading success. Manipulating sounds is the ability, for instance, to be able to break the sounds of the word “map” apart into its individual sounds /m/ /a/ /p/ and then correctly identify the sound that changed (was manipulated) if I were to say the words “mat, tap, tip, tin.”

Another word of encouragement!  As with piano lessons or any other skill development training, reading practice at home after school and/or between tutoring sessions has a strong impact on a student’s progress. Students will see maximum progress over time if they practice reading at home between sessions.

Speaking of Boosting Vocabulary with Audio Books …

Boosting your Child’s Vocabulary Skills is of Critical Importance!  

because — Words Matter!

 “A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing. Vocabulary is critical to a child’s success for these reasons: Vocabulary growth is directly related to school achievement. The size of a child’s vocabulary in kindergarten predicts the ability to learn to read.” 

The Importance of Vocabulary | JCFS

Why Vocabulary Matters

  • Enhances comprehension
    • strengthens one’s understanding of what is read
  • Promotes academic achievement
    • strengthens the ability to understand concepts within specific subject areas (math, science, literature, art, etc.)
  • Expands oral and written communication
    • Many students are linguistically challenged – able to communicate with fewer people than the average person in society because of their limited English skills and knowledge.  The same students are also limited in their ability to express themselves in a written piece of work.

Boost Vocabulary Skills with Audio Books and Online Activities

I have become increasingly aware that many students not only lack strong reading skills but also have weak vocabulary skills due to lack of exposure to oral and/or written English.  In addition to audiobooks, online activities are another great resource to boost vocabulary.

I build vocabulary lists for my students to practice online at home based on reading material assigned to them during our tutoring sessions and send links to parents to enable students’ to access the website Vocabulary A-Z.  A tremendous advantage of the website is that it offers auditory support through its broad range of vocabulary and spelling activities. While we do review the words in class, actual proficiency will depend on students practicing the assigned stories and vocabulary words at home.  

Vocabulary A-Z is a paid subscription site. A terrific free resource for vocabulary skill development is  For words not included in Vocabulary A-Z, I rely on for definitions of words and sentences using those words. On, learners can sign in with a personal email address, create original word lists or use existing word lists, and track their personal progress. It has an extensive database of words, including word lists relating to specific book titles at Literature Lists. Check out the extensive resource library for learners at Learner Resource Center. The only negative for younger students is that it lacks gamelike activities.