Thursday, May 26, 2011

Of Arnold* and Audio

*Lobel, that is.

There's a lot of debate about whether listening to an audiobook "counts" as reading. Audiobooks tell stories, sure, but how is listening to an audiobook different from the passive act of watching TV? Maybe it'll introduce you to an author, but who's to say you'll ever pick up a "real" book by that author if the audiobooks are available?

I've seen S, age 5 and a pre-reader, follow along in a physical Frog and Toad book while she listened to the audio, and I have no doubt that's helping her learn to recognize words. In fact, I suspect that with her love of stories and her long attention span, she's going to be a super-reader. But it was A, age 2 and a half, who solidified my belief that listening to an audiobook is real reading, and not just because we want to say so. When A listens to Mouse Tales, she laughs in the right places. She gets scared in the right places. After seven stories, she wants to listen again.

All this happens without any visual elements. To me, that means she's practicing the skill of imagining and comprehending characters, actions, setting, and/or whatever else makes the story meaningful to her... based on nothing but words. Really, the only part of reading she's not doing is decoding.

And if you think reading is just about sounding out words, you're missing out.


  1. Plus, the girls are getting trained to be excellent audience members.

  2. True! And the sitting-quietly aspect of that is definitely a good skill ;)