What is the importance of reading?

It has been a well known fact for many years that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children” (Bomar, 2006).  Because reading is imperative in later appreciation for and engagement in learning, it is essential to encourage reading in whatever form children enjoy.  Audiobooks provide an exceptional opportunity for children to hone listening comprehension skills and increase interest in books and learning.  In the technologically advanced world that we live in, audiobooks coupled with technology are an invaluable tool in engaging children in the act of reading.

How has audiobook use evolved?

The practice of listening to books has evolved from children listening to adults read books, to audiotape, to compact disc, to Playaway devices, to digital downloads, to iPods, and finally to iPhones and iPads (Whittingham, Huffman, Christensen, & McAllister, 2012).  First instances of children listening to recorded audiobooks in educational settings began in the 1970’s with what was referred to as “audio-assisted reading” in schools (Whittingham, Huffman, Christensen, & McAllister, 2012).  Audio-assisted reading consisted of students listening to a text passage on a recorded device, then following along as the teacher read the passage, then reading the passage independently (Gilbert, Williams, and McLaughlin 1996; Whittingham, Huffman, Christensen, & McAllister, 2012).  This process of listening, following along with the text, and discussing is a great way to assist children in learning to read.

How do audiobooks impact readers?

The Audio-assisted reading approach was initiated following research which concluded that Audio-assisted reading was helpful for students who were struggling to read; however, research since then has proven that listening to books being read is beneficial even for the most advanced readers.  More experienced readers benefit from the opportunity to experience books that are beyond their reading level thus engaging them with vocabulary they wouldn’t normally be exposed to (Bomar, 2006).  In addition to increasing vocabulary, the modeled fluency of listening to audiobooks helps children “to integrate the rate, rhythm, and natural flow of language necessary for good comprehension” regardless of reading level (Whittingham, Huffman, Christensen, & McAllister, 2012).

“Reading comprehension and interest are essential in learning” (Whittingham, Huffman, Christensen, & McAllister, 2012).  Because audiobooks provide an opportunity to increase both comprehension and interest, they help set the stage for a lifelong love of reading thereby facilitating a lifelong love of learning.  Although it is still important for parents to read and engage with books along with their children, parents may not always have time to read to their children thus providing a great opportunity for introducing audiobooks as an alternative (Noland, 2011).  Pamela Varley posits that, “reading is not the main event, but the mechanical prelude to engaging the content . . . what matters is what the readers’ minds and imagination do with the content once they arrive” (Noland, 2011). In today’s technologically advanced world, developing children’s listening skills is even more important and challenging than in previous generations (Noland, 2011).

What are the benefits of audiobooks?

As described by Noland (2011), audiobooks help children to:

  • listen without a visual aid
  • imagine a scene or character
  • become more aware of language
  • engage with content
  • increase verbal fluency
  • hear how a fluent reader sounds
  • build long-form listening skills
  • tune in to pacing of oral language
  • learn correct pronunciation
  • pick up idiomatic expressions
  • enjoy literature beyond reading ability
  • develop active listening and critical listening skills
  • encourage a positive attitude for reading

Why is it important to make use of technology?

In the technologically advanced world that we live in, audiobooks coupled with technology are an invaluable tool in engaging children in the act of reading.  iBooks makes it possible for young children to engage with books on iPads, making the experience more exciting and enjoyable for them.  The ability to either listen to audiobooks or follow along with interactive texts makes iBooks a truly unique experience for children.  Exposing children to purposeful use apps such as iBooks gives them positive experiences with learning, creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime.


Bomar, L. (2006, May). IPods as Reading Tools. Retrieved January 14, 2017, from http://www.naesp.org/resources/2/Principal/2006/M-Jp52.pdf

Clark, R. C. (2007). Audiobooks for Children. Retrieved January 14, 2017, from http://interactivereadalouds.pbworks.com/f/Audiobooks for Children – Is this Really Reading.pdf

Noland, L. (2011, April & may). Why Listening Is Good for All Kids—Especially in the Digital Age. Retrieved January 14, 2017, from http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/content/uploaded/media/why%20listening%20is%20good%20for%20all%20kids.pdf

Whittingham, J., Huffman, S., Christensen, R., & McAllister, T. (2012, December 19). Use of Audiobooks in a School Library and Positive Effects of Struggling Readers’ Participation in a Library-Sponsored Audiobook Club. Retrieved January 14, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/vol16/SLR_Use_of_AudiobooksV16.pdf

The iBooks App can be found here.

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