In a world bombarded with technology, it’s easy as a parent to be overwhelmed by claims that certain digital tools can improve a child’s learning. When it comes to nurturing a love of reading, you’d be forgiven for wanting to avoid technology entirely. Surely there is no better alternative for learning to read than with a physical copy of a book? I was once very hesitant to delve into audiobooks for my child. However, the arrival of a Yoto Player into our home one Christmas opened a new world of ways to engage with books as a family. The benefits of audiobooks for children don’t replace the benefits of reading a story – but they most certainly enhance them.
Here are 5 ways I have discovered audiobooks have boosted my child’s literacy skills:
1. Expanded vocabulary
Hearing stories rich with vocabulary means children are exposed to a range of words pronounced correctly in different contexts without the extra pressure of having to decode. The descriptive language used in audiobooks is enhanced with sound effects and different tones by the narrators. I have found this feature to give richer meaning to words and so my child is more likely to remember key vocabulary. Children learn better when exposed to words repeatedly in a range of different contexts, not by dictionary definitions.
2. Increased emotional connection to texts
For many, sharing a bedtime story as a family is one of the most treasured pastimes when raising children. Listening to an audiobook is no different. We are psychologically more inclined to want to listen to a story than to read it through the written word.
I can tell through the reactions of my child when listening to an audiobook that the voices of the different characters creates a greater emotional connection than if I were to read to her. The characters come to life from the page. This in turn deepens our engagement with the story and makes the text so much more memorable.
3. Improved speaking and listening
If you were thinking that a child’s audiobook simply involves a person reading words off a page, you’d be mistaken. There are a variety of sound effects, voices, and theatric elements to make you feel like you are right there in the story. The range of accents and dialects also means children have an improved cultural awareness of the spoken word.
There is a certain cadence to how fairytales on our Yoto player are narrated which absorbs my child from the first word and her attention span for listening has improved in this way. She will often repeat her favorite lines from The Three Little Pigs with the exact intonation and delivery of how it’s read on our Yoto player.
4. Improved comprehension
A huge pressure on children when reading is having to decode the words and apply phonics knowledge. We can often forget that learning to read should promote a lifelong love of texts. I want my child to enjoy stories and language, not just to read words aloud from a page. Listening to audiobooks puts less stress on working memory for children so there are more opportunities to engage deeper with a text, such as by making inferences and predictions.
5. Develops empathy
The way that the characters are given actual voices in an audiobook means we naturally feel stronger about them and their role in the story. My child can interpret the feelings and personality of a character through not just what they say, but how they say it. Often reading from a book can miss the nuances of a character’s personality that helps shape our understanding of them. Maybe it’s the lonely princess’ sigh or the cackle of a vengeful witch – there are so many opportunities to identify and discuss emotions when listening to an audiobook.
Ultimately, sharing audiobooks as a family has become a tradition I know we will continue to maintain. It’s such an immersive experience that captures our attention with a touch of story-telling magic. If you are unsure about including electronics when it comes to your child’s reading, rest assured that audiobooks will not derail their appreciation for the written word. You’ll find that audiobooks will boost the appreciation and understanding of stories and language in your home – for the old as well as the young.
Curious about the Yoto Player? You can follow this link to read about it on Amazon or watch the video below: