15 Great Audiobooks for Helping Kids Read Better

November 7, 2014
The puzzling question that is often posed when talking about audiobooks' integration in the teaching and learning of literacy is whether they have the same cognitive benefits as the actual reading. In other words , can listening to  audiobooks be considered reading? Well, the answer does require a rigorous scientific study; however,  what is certain here is that listening to audiobooks and reading both require serious engagement with the content for deep and critical understanding to take place.

There are  actually several myths around audiobooks such as that they are a form of cheating or that they are for those with reading disabilities or those who don't like to read. But these are unverifiable myths and do not stand to the evidence of reason. In fact, such a discussion on the uncertainties related to audiobooks does a big disservice to their actual merit. As a learning tool, audiobooks have a number of important educational benefits to students and can be used in a variety of ways. Reading Rockets lists 10 interesting things you can do with audiobooks in class:

  • Introduce students to books above their reading level
  • Model good interpretive reading
  • Teach critical listening
  • Highlight the humor in books
  • Introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider
  • Introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
  • Sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, Old English, and old-fashioned literary styles
  • Provide a read-aloud model
  • Provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations
  • Recapture "the essence and the delights of hearing stories beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers" (Baskin & Harris, 1995, p. 376)
Here is an excellent visual from We Are Teachers that features some of the best audiobooks for k-12.