The Benefits of Audiobooks for ALL Readers

Audiobooks can benefit ALL readers. This post shares our top five reasons to use them both in the classroom and at home!

5 Reasons to Use Audiobooks

1. Audiobooks Increase Comprehension Through Visualization

We live in a very visual world in which television and video games do the work of providing images.  Both activities are passive and neither require a person to visualize (create pictures in one’s mind).  The ability to visualize is necessary for reading comprehension.  Audiobooks read by professional narrators, and often enhanced with sound effects, can help a student improve her ability to create pictures in her mind.

All students can benefit from listening to audiobooks.  One type of reader who will find listening to text advantageous are those who read fluently, but demonstrate poor comprehension.  Lack of comprehension may be a result of a student’s inability to create images while reading the text.  By scaffolding reading with an audio component, students may increase their understanding of the text.

2. Audiobooks Help Students Access Text Above Their Current Reading Level

Even if a student is reading on grade level, listening to books can accelerate reading growth. This helps familiarize a student with vocabulary and book language beyond his independent reading level.  Through listening, a student will become accustomed to more complex language including vocabulary and sentence structure.  This familiarization may enable the student to read more difficult text with confidence, comprehension, and independence.

3. Audiobooks Offer Equal Access to Learning

Audiobooks should be part of independent reading time for both English language learners and students with reading disabilities.  While reading at one’s independent level is necessary and important for application of skills, listening to grade level texts provides vital exposure to grade level vocabulary and concepts.  They can help students keep pace with the curriculum.

Audiobooks don’t have to be just for English language learners or students with reading disabilities.  Giving all students equal access to such books in the classroom can help build a community of learners.  Equal access based on interest, gives English language learners and students with reading disabilities an opportunity to connect with their classmates.   A listening center can help all students meet with curricular demands by offering opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions that build comprehension.

4. Audiobooks Help Level the Playing Field for Vocabulary Acquisition

Students arrive at school with varying amounts of working vocabulary.  In order to increase vocabulary, volume of reading matters.  The more students read, the more vocabulary they are exposed to.  The chart below illustrates the powerful impact only 20 minutes of reading a day can have on vocabulary.  The use of audiobooks can help students increase their word knowledge.

This chart shows the equivalence between the number of minutes spent reading each day to the total number of words encountered over the course of a year. Source: Nagy & Herman (1987)

5. Audiobooks Allow for IEP Compliance

Students who have dyslexia or specific learning disabilities often have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that require assistive technology.  Audiobooks, read by professional narrators, are one type of assistive technology.  They are engaging, fun to listen to, and can instill or further a love of reading.  Who could ask for more?

Not convinced yet?  
For more ideas on the benefits of listening to audiobooks check out one of our favorite websites, Reading Rockets.


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