On the Importance of Audio Books
Children take immense pleasure in listening to stories. They are gateways to entirely different worlds, where monkeys talk, crows sing and crocodiles eat rose apples. Particularly for children who can’t read yet, listening to stories is one of the biggest sources of entertainment. When these stories come from parents or grandparents especially, they hold a certain emotional value for the child (who even asks the next day for a repeat of the same story, hoping to experience the same magic they did the first time they heard it).
For the same reasons, children also love audio books. Sound effects, different character voices and music make listening to them an engaging, fun and multi-dimensional experience. The simple joy of listening to an audio book while staring at nothing and visualizing the story—comparable almost to daydreaming—is unparalleled. Reading along with the book in print is especially enriching as children can then form connections between the written and spoken word, get better at reading out loud, analyse spelling patterns and internalize them.
Even listening without a physical book has its advantages. It develops the child’s listening skills, attention span and their ability to concentrate, making them better listeners in interpersonal interactions. In addition, repeated exposure to clear and proper enunciation in audio books improves the child’s pronunciation. Auditory learners—people who learn best when they receive information in the form of sound—benefit most from audio books.
Audio books that combine music with story in particular, are catalysts to language acquisition. When stories are told in the form of lyrics set to a catchy tune, they’re very likely to become stuck in people’s heads, who in turn are more likely to use phrases and words from the lyrics in their everyday speech. Songs also help learn vocabulary in context (as used in sentences—the natural way to acquire a language), as opposed to vocabulary in isolation (words by themselves), which is not as likely to remain in our memories.
All in all, audio books are a wonderful way for children to engage with their favourite stories in creative and imaginative ways. They’re often used in classrooms where children are encouraged to draw the scenes they’re visualizing or act out the story with their friends along with the audio book. They’re also game-changers with regards to language learning—even among adults—providing a natural, unstilted approach to language acquisition, similar to how someone might acquire their native language.