At Listening Books, we often get feedback from our members about how audiobooks have enhanced their lives and helped them re-connect with the world of literature. A large proportion of comments are from the parents of our younger members who are keen to tell us what an impact listening to audiobooks has made on their child’s understanding, confidence and well-being.
We are a national charity established in 1959 (when audiobooks looked and sounded very different!), that provides both an online and postal audiobook lending service to anyone whose reading is affected by physical or mental illness, disability or learning difficulty. In total we have over 9,000 audiobooks in our catalogue including titles by best-selling authors such as Hilary Mantel, Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett, Malorie Blackman, Cecelia Ahern, Zadie Smith, Lauren Child, Philip Pullman and many, many others.
We have strong relationships with major UK publishers and purchase most of our audiobooks from them. However, we do record a small number of books in our onsite studios where we focus on producing educational titles that are not available in audio elsewhere. Our recent projects have included Lisa Williamson’s transgender teen romance, The Art of Being Normal, Michael Rosen’s and Anne Marie Young’s book exploring migration, Who Are Refugees and Migrants?, plus numerous audio adaptations of the popular Horrible Histories and Horrible Science books.
We have over 3,500 audiobooks suitable for children and young people. Many are on the national curriculum, some will help with wider reading, and some are just for fun! Using audiobooks in the classroom and at home can have many lasting benefits for students. Many young people with reading, writing and communication difficulties may find it harder to realise their full potential. It can certainly extract the enjoyment from a story if it’s a struggle to read or understand the words on the page. Not being able to access the same educational resources as their peers can create unnecessary barriers to academic achievement, which in turn could lead to undermining a student’s motivation and self-esteem.
Listening to audiobooks, however, eliminates the challenge some may have ‘decoding’ the words on the page, allowing the listener to visualise as they listen. Their understanding is also helped by the tone of voice, accent, emphasis and timing given to the text by the professional reader.
Listening to audiobooks can help children acquire a vocabulary beyond their own reading level and everyday conversation, enhancing fluency and comprehension. If they follow the text while listening, their word recognition and reading speed can improve. When the frustration of trying to understand the printed word is removed, the listener can find it much easier to absorb the structure and conventions of storytelling. This can lead to a greater confidence to communicate both orally and on paper. When they discover the excitement of books through listening, many pupils stop regarding reading as a chore and develop a genuine, passionate enthusiasm for stories.
But don’t just take our word for it! Earlier this year, the National Literacy Trust published their research which found that engagement with audiobooks can improve a child’s reading skills, mental wellbeing and emotional intelligence. Read their report here – https://literacytrust.org.uk/news/we-release-research-review-benefits-audiobooks-literacy/
We are proud to help so many young people discover that reading or listening to a book can be a joyful experience. Here are what some of our members have to say.
‘We joined Listening Books at the beginning of lockdown for my son, who has dyslexia. He is now glued to his headphones and mp3 and is belting through the books…He LOVES books and as a result of engaging with literature throughout the day in audiobook form…’Sam Tucker, mother of member.
‘As well as my dyslexic son being a great fan of Listening Books, I am a Dyslexia Specialist and recommend you to every client. It is not only the fiction books that are so good for them, but also the text books and topic books which are so useful too! It really helps learners access the curriculum.’Sarah of Bromley Dyslexia Assessment, Tuition and Consultancy
‘Listening Books are a godsend for children like Zoe, both for enjoyment but also to further her studies, vocabulary, comprehension etc. There is no doubt in my mind that A LOT of Zoe’s skills today have been honed by listening to and learning from books.’Yvonne, mother of member.
Long gone are the days where a child’s experience of audiobooks would just revolve around listening to stories on long car journeys. Now, they are a vital tool to help students connect with literature and achieve their full potential in the classroom.