Using Audiobooks to Keep Summer Learning Going

We have been talking about ways to keep learning going all summer long, like setting up reading challenges to get the whole family involved in reading. This week, we want to mention a way to get the benefits of reading without even opening a book, a fun (and sort of sneaky) way to increase your children’s reading over the summer: audiobooks!

Audiobooks are the new books-on-tape. A narrator reads the book while your child listens. Sometimes, he can read along with an actual book or on the computer. Sometimes, it’s a podcast.

Audiobooks are completely mobile so you can pack them easily on trips or errands. They can be a great way for kids to be exposed to stories that are slightly above their own reading level. For kids who might be struggling with reading, audiobooks can help them become familiar with the same books that their friends might be reading. And they can be a fun way to coax reluctant readers into “picking up” a book.

One thing that parents might wonder about audiobooks is whether they have the same benefits as reading a hard copy book. Experts say that they do. The listener is still exposed to the words. She still has to follow the story and comprehend what is going on. And audiobooks require focused attention and listening skills.

The one exception is that when children listen to a story they are not decoding the sounds of the letters in the words in order to correctly pronounce the words. This is the skill that children use when they learn to read. So beginning readers will not get that benefit from audiobooks. But they get the other good stuff like following a narrative and hearing rich vocabulary words.

Audiobooks can also be a great way to keep teens reading over the summer. Studies show that by the time that kids reach their teen years, they are less likely to read for pleasure than they were when they were younger. So making it easy to connect to a good book may encourage teens to get back into the reading habit.

AND adults can listen, too. So if you are planning a car trip this summer or even hanging around town, you can listen to audiobooks as a family. Then you can all talk about what you liked about the story, your favorite characters, and what you would change if you were the author. So pick up some headphones and read a good book!

Here’s a list of FREE audiobook resources for children and teens:

Scholastic has a list of sites that offer free audiobooks.

Audiosync offers 2 free books per week over the summer for teens.

Loyal Books offers lots of children’s classic stories for free.

Storynory offers original stories as well as others.

And check out Storyline Online for storybooks read by actors. These are videos so not technically audiobooks, but a lot of fun!

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Image: © Lightfieldstudiosprod |


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