When audiobooks are suggested to students, the first thing that is often asked is: But isn’t that cheating? Audiobooks are not cheating. They are a wonderful, multi-sensory avenue for children to access reading material, particularly when the audio is paired with the written word.
Early audiobooks were created for those who could not read written words, such as people who were blind or visually impaired. Though Thomas Edison envisioned recorded books when he created the phonograph in 1877, it wasn’t until the early 1930’s that books of length were recorded. WWI veterans who had lost their sight were one of the first groups to use recorded books.
As recorded books evolved, they became widely used by not only the visually impaired, but by those who found reading challenging as well. Audiobooks gave dyslexic individuals access to books that they could understand, but not successfully read on their own. In the late 1980’s, audiobooks went mainstream and became a popular item for any member of a family to use. Public libraries stocked them for borrowing as cassette tapes, then later, as CD’s.
Various research studies show that audiobooks can have a positive impact on a child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension. While audiobooks do not take the place of reading instruction, they are a great supplement to it. Audiobooks model fluency, they help with pacing, they decode the “undecodable” word, and they often retain attention. The most valuable audio experience for developing readers is the multi-sensory one: where text and audio are paired.
At DCD, we have started using audiobooks available through Learning Ally in the classroom. Through our school membership, students who could benefit are given free access to audiobooks and digital audiobooks to supplement their learning.
Want to find out more about the benefits of audiobooks? You can visit the learningally.org website, or check out one of the links below: