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, Scribd.com, 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 with a local library card
- Reader’s Digest provides a list of 17 Places to Get Audiobooks for Free Online
- Accessible on audible.com through Amazon (paid subscription)
- Accessible on scribd.com (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 –
plus it offers a few 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 …
Why should you be concerned with boosting your child’s vocabulary skills?
— because —
“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
- 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.
Do not underestimate the critical importance of expanding a student’s vocabulary!
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 am currently developing vocabulary lists for my students to practice online at home and will be sending a link to parents to access the learning website Vocabulary A-Z. A tremendous advantage of the website is that it offers auditory support throughout its broad range of vocabulary and spelling activities (based on the assigned vocabulary lists). While we will review the words in class, actual proficiency will depend on students practicing the words at home.
Vocabulary A-Z is a paid subscription site. A terrific free resource for vocabulary skill development is Vocabulary.com. For words not included in Vocabulary A-Z I rely on vocab.com for definitions of words and sentences using those words in context. On Vocabulary.com, 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 Vocab.com Literature Lists. While you are at it check out the extensive resource library for learners at Vocab.com Learner Resource Center. The only negative for younger students is that it lacks gamelike activities.
Cheers to reading skill development,
an expanding vocabulary,
and a future ignited with mined potential!
Let’s keep digging!