“Chickens,” Goliath bellowed, “I’ll chop off your heads and eat you on toast!” I heard my two year old utter under his breath. Bellowed? Needless to say, I was perplexed. However, it didn’t take me long to figure out where he had heard the word – and the rest of the statement: The Jesus Storybook Bible via audiobook from Audible.com. He has listened to the audio Bible repeatedly and the phrases and vocabulary are becoming embedded in his conversations.
In our home, we spend a lot of time listening to audiobooks. Often, for a treat, I’ll let Little Man listen to audiobooks before bed or his nap (after we read a couple of books together). Additionally, we usually listen to an audiobook in the car as we drive around the island – The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Cat and the Hat and Other Stories are some of our favorites. We also have Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales, The Mercy Watson Collection, a Disney collection, A Bear Called Paddington, and even Peppa Pig: Once Upon a Time (picture an embarrassed look on this English teacher’s face).
We have invested in a monthly subscription to Audible.com and use the Audible app to download the books. The benefit of this is that both my husband and I have access to these books on our phones and they are accessible at all times. Bluetooth speakers help the kids listen to the stories in the house.
I actually first subscribed to Audible when I was teaching English and needed to spend time getting refreshed with novels my eighth graders were reading, but I didn’t have the time to read at home (think: grading, new baby, just trying to keep my head above water). I’ve also used it in my classroom when reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry with my seventh graders. The students enjoyed listening to the Audible version and I enjoyed resting my throat when I had spent what seemed, at the time, like too much time reading aloud to them in order to help them understand the text.
Today, feeling a little under the weather, my Little Man listened to The Collected Stories of Winne-the-Pooh for over an hour, sitting on the couch after waking from his afternoon nap – just listening. I was thankful to have some quiet time to get dinner prepared, and I’m pleased that he’s learning to listen (key word – ‘learning’). Unfortunately, this is a skill that is far too often lacking and one that I really want (and need) my kiddos to develop.
According to research on reading and audiobooks, listening to stories helps to develop comprehension skills and vocabulary just as effectively as reading. Reading (especially as young children are still learning to read) is also essential, of course, for necessary skills such as decoding; however, audiobooks are a great way to expose your child to narratives and to more sophisticated language. (See the article: As Far As Your Brain is Concerned, Audiobooks Are Not Cheating)
So let your child listen to audiobooks often – in the car, while playing independently, when you need a little personal time – and rest assured that your child is benefiting from the experience of listening.