The Benefits of Audiobooks

Is listening to an audiobook really reading? While there are some differences in the skills needed to read a print book and listen to an audiobook, there are far more similarities.

Listening to audiobooks has many of the same benefits as reading a print book. In Reading Magic, author Mem Fox writes: “Reading is being able to make sense from the marks on the page. Reading is being able to make the print mean something. Reading is getting the message.” Reading is not just the process of decoding the letters on a page; reading is understanding the content. A recent study looking at brain scans of readers and listeners showed that the “subject’s brains were creating meaning from the words in the same way, regardless if they were listening or reading.”

Reading print books is essential to develop decoding skills (turning written letters into words), but audiobooks help to develop other essential skills for reading. There are many benefits to listening to audiobooks:

  • Audiobooks help with comprehension because they develop vocabulary and add to a reader’s background knowledge.
  • Listening to a story gives new readers an example of how fluent reading sounds.
  • New and struggling readers can often listen to books above their reading level. This lets them enjoy more complex stories than they are able to read on their own.
  • Sometimes the way a narrator reads a book will help with comprehension. (For example, sarcasm is usually better understood when heard than when read.)
  • Audiobooks help develop listening skills and attention spans.

Looking for audiobooks for kids? Visit the Discovery Zone on the main floor of the library to find CD audiobooks and playaways (pre-loaded mp3 players). Find read-along sets (picture books paired with a CD) in the Enchanted Forest, and find downloadable and streaming audiobooks and read-alongs through the digital content section of our website.

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