They say “reading is fundamental”, and the benefits are beyond measure – especially in children. To name a few, reading exercises the mind, fuels imagination, and nurtures communication skills. It can exponentially broaden our vocabulary, and teach us all about the world in which we live.
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According to Google, almost 130 MILLION books have been published in modern history (you can read more about that here). That’s pretty incredible!
In our household, we really value reading (and education in general), so any activity that encourages reading is extremely important. Some kids learn to read quickly, and it becomes a natural and beloved part of their daily routine. For others, not so much.
Some children learn at different speeds. Sometimes the pressures of school are more than they can digest and reading becomes stressful, and sometimes a dreaded chore. We have experienced both sides of this spectrum, and in both cases found so much value and enrichment in audio books.
How it came to be: For several years I had a long – MISERABLE – commute to work. It was 1.5 hours of driving each way (public transportation and telecommuting were not options at that time). As a way to keep up my productivity, and maintain my sanity, I turned to audio books. I would crank out 2-3 books per week just sitting in the car. I used a few free apps that were connected to my public library account, but Audible by far had the best selection of great books. If you are interested in a subscription, you can try it out for free here (also a great gift idea!).
Right now Audible is having a promotion to save 53% on your membership for the first 3 months. Check it out here!
Anyway, when one of my kids was really struggling with reading (resistant and frustrated), it struck me – what about Audiobooks? I wondered if Audiobooks would supplement (or maybe even replace) his required 30 minutes of nightly reading homework. Would the teachers support this strategy? Would this help his reading comprehension and make it more enjoyable?
I did a lot of research, and to my relief the answers to all of my questions were an enthusiastic “YES!”. The teachers absolutely loved this idea and supported it 100%. Everything I researched and read supported audiobooks and raved about the benefits. As far as I’m concerned, an audio book compared to no book wins every single time. Here are some fascinating studies on this topic for your reference:
- To Your Brain, Listening to a Book Is Pretty Much the Same As Reading It
- Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading? Here’s What Experts Say
My son would frequently listen to the Audiobook while reading along with the physical book. This was the best of both worlds and his entire outlook toward reading dramatically improved right away. And as a bonus, it was easier for me to track his progress in the audio book compared to me asking him “how many pages did you read?”.
There were no more fights, meltdowns, or tears. Audiobooks transformed his frustration and torture (his word, not mine) into an enjoyable escape. He happily snuggled up in a chair – a book in one hand, headphones in the other. It was a success story for both of us, and set the stage for healthy reading habits going forward. *cue the sigh of relief*
When I was commuting and listening to my own books, I was a bit oblivious to the selection of books for kids. There are so so many wonderful options – some of which are pretty mainstream, lots are classics, a few have been made into movies, and the choices are endless. Some even have celebrity narrators – how cool is that?!
Here are a few of our family favorites to get you started (beloved by my 9 year old book worm) . All of the books below are available on Amazon / Audible, and most (maybe all) are free with an Audible Free Trial. If these options are not age appropriate for your child, check out the website where they have hunderds (maybe thousands) of options for younger and older children alike. You might enjoy listening as a family, especially on long car rides (pro parenting tip right there!).
I hope you will give this approach a try – for your reluctant reader, as well as your book worm. It’s a win win for everyone. Enjoy 🙂