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Audio Books - Is Your Child Gaining From These Benefits?

By Eliza Bush

Children's audio books on CD were something I'd always regarded with mild suspicion.

After all it's not really reading or is it? As a mother and English teacher, not to mention an avid reader myself, I was fully aware of the importance of reading and had always tried my best to instil in my children and students a love of reading but, I still wondered if I wasn't perhaps missing something and decided to investigate the matter further.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the experts agree - audio books in fact help improve a child's reading!

By listening to audio books children are presented with an opportunity to hear language thereby providing them with models for the correct use of grammar and also giving them the chance to hear the correct pronunciation of new or difficult words.

Another benefit of audio books is that they can play a vital role in bridging the gap in young children whose understanding and comprehension is greater than their reading skill. Often children who cannot yet read or who are just learning to read become frustrated by their lack of reading ability. In allowing them to "read" along with an audio book this frustration can be avoided as the child feels as though they're actually reading. This is an enormous benefit when encouraging a life-long love of books and reading in the very young.

A more obvious, but no less important benefit of listening to stories is that it improves a child's listening skills. More than half of our learning or accumulation of knowledge is achieved through just listening. Wow! Up until now I hadn't really thought about it like that. Through just listening to audio books on CD or cassette children's concentration is improved and they become better listeners and thereby better learners. Just take a moment and think about it. Not too long ago there were no televisions and radios were the centre of home entertainment. Growing up in South Africa (TV only became available there in the early 70's) I still remember looking forward to Sunday evenings at home listening to stories on the radio. Listening to stories is still a great way to spend quality time together as a family and it has been shown to improve a child's conversation skills and to encourage them to express themselves.

The narrators of audio books also often bring the stories to life through different voices, music and sound effects. Children are encouraged to use their imaginations and "paint" their own pictures of characters and places. The overall effect of this is one of entertainment and enjoyment thereby strengthening the link between books and pleasure. This is particularly important for parents struggling with reluctant or problem readers.

According to a Commission on Reading report, "Becoming a Nation of Readers", "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children." However, changes in society mean that more and more demands are being made on our time. Finding time to squeeze everything in is often not only a challenge but impossible. Audio books can give often exhausted parents a break from reading to their child. What better way to relax and end the day than to cuddle up together and just listen.

About The Author
Eliza Bush is an English teacher and mother of two. She is the Managing Director for Storytime Africa where you can find funny African animal stories for children on audio book and illustrated picture book. Please visit us at and allow your children to benefit too.

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