Make Your Child a Reader

Audio books are a great way for young readers to obtain a stronger sense of language


When my son was small, he struggled with reading. I hired a tutor for him, but then my son fired her (he was in the third grade). An avid reader myself, I had raised my kids on books and regular trips to the library, and I’d read to them from the time they were infants. But, things weren’t really clicking for him.

Then we discovered the Captain Underpants book series, which he devoured. They were basically comic books in book form, but they were really funny. Then we stumbled upon the Akiko books, a series of sci-fi/fantasy books about the outer space adventures of a Japanese girl. My son loved the series, which had a bit more text and a bit fewer pictures than the Captain Underpants books. After Akiko, he started reading The Lord of the Rings, the thick series by J.R.R. Tolkien that has no pictures and lots of big words. I guess you could say, he went through a kind of reading growth spurt.

One thing both of my kids enjoyed doing was listening to books on tape. My son had even found a tape of a Tintin comic book, which he loved. My daughter listened to books while reading along in her own copy. Listening to books is a great way for young readers to get a feel for language.

For more insight on this subject, here’s an excerpt from the article, Listening Isn’t Cheating: How Audiobooks Can Help Us Learn:

“Audio books have surged in popularity in recent years, enabled by their ease of use and advancements in smartphones. Gone are the days of numbered cassettes and bulky players. Technology has created more opportunities to listen to good books.

But not everyone believes listening to books is a good thing—biases in favor of reading run deep, and those who listen are often accused of ‘cheating.’ There’s a common perception that listening doesn’t require the same amount of work to reach understanding, as reading does.

The debate can come to the fore of the classroom, where audio books can be a valuable tool for learning. Listening is a critical component of Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, as is reading. To help teachers and students (and perhaps audio book listeners who get pulled into these debates), professor Daniel Willingham, author of Raising Kids Who Read, explains the difference in how the brain processes listening vs. reading. In his blog post, he answers the question he gets all the time, ‘Is listening to audio books cheating?’”

Read more at MindShift.

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