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Listen here: The benefits of audiobooks.

As well as knowledge, audiobooks can also help build listening, critical thinking skills and more.

Apr 12, 2022


Words: Andrea Kinsmith
Images: Phoebe Rich

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Several years ago, we had the opportunity to work with a representative from the Melbourne-based publisher and tech company Bolinda. Bolinda produces audiobooks and are the developers of the Borrow Box app used by libraries to loan out audiobooks.

The rep was super helpful, sending out a lovely page of infographics detailing the many varied benefits of listening to audiobooks. As a family, we were already lovers of audiobooks for many reasons, but when we saw the length of the list, we were blown away.

Illustration by Phoebe Rich at The View From Here.
Illustration by Phoebe Rich at The View From Here.

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The first thing that jumped out at me was how much audiobooks improve comprehension. Regularly listening to them increases comprehension by as much as 76% – that’s huge! Many children, and even adults, struggle with reading: not because they can’t decode the words, but because they don’t understand what they are reading. Hearing the words read aloud as well makes all the difference to understanding the context.

Audiobooks also expand vocabulary, especially when we’re likely to listen to books that we might struggle reading. With better comprehension and vocabulary comes better reading accuracy and fluency.

While listening to a book may not help with spelling, it does help with pronunciation, grammar and word order. When we listen regularly to well-written and well-read audiobooks we get a better sense of how to use our language.

For someone struggling with reading, audiobooks can open them up to a positive experience and invite them to explore the many benefits of reading and books. This is true for both adults and children.

The benefits don’t stop there. As well as being a good way to gain knowledge, audiobooks can help build listening and critical thinking skills.

These titles can also boost our mood and disrupt negative thinking patterns, or help pass the time for tasks that may be monotonous or lengthy.

They are also good for a quiet-time activity. Doing something that is not auditory – such as colouring or playing with blocks – while listening to a good story is a great way to relax and unwind.

Some people have shared with me that having an audiobook playing helps their autistic children to calm down and focus. I’ve had a few adults mention a similar experience, with the audiobook helping them to think more clearly.

Audiobooks don’t work for everyone. Also, they’re not a replacement for physical books, especially for those who need to see the text to remember what was said. But given the benefits, they most certainly have merit alongside physical books.

...audiobooks can open them up to a positive experience and invite them to explore the many benefits of reading...

While it is very important to have quiet time (thinking time), we find audiobooks make a huge difference. They help us enjoy a greater number of books. Sometimes, they help us to tackle much larger books like Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which is not just a large book, but is also quite complex with lots of characters to remember. We also use them on long drives and to pass the time during monotonous tasks. It can be helpful to listen to a book, as well as read or reference the physical book because we will pick up more details and remember it better – we recently did this with Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller.

I recently finished listening to The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I had some doubts about this book. It had very mixed reviews online. Thanks to the magic of Borrow Box, I was able to listen to it before I ordered it into the store. It was worth it, I think the book is great! It has some dull patches, but otherwise, it’s an interesting concept and a great aid to examine what a life without regrets might be like.

I’m currently listening to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which is fantastic. It’s a great reminder of how important books are and what it might mean if we were to not have them as a daily part of our lives. That privilege is extended by audiobooks providing us with even more opportunities to access these wonderful books.

Bolinda Audiobooks – shop.bolinda.com – or ask at your local library.

Librivox: for free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers from around the world – librivox.org.

Our dear friends at the Reader’s Emporium (readersemporium.com.au) have been supporting Gippslandia since #1. Why don’t you show them some love? Head to Shop 12 Seymour Arcade, Traralgon from 10am.

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