by Sarah Hashimoto
As a public librarian, I often hear parents and even teachers telling kids that the only reading that “counts” is traditional reading—reading with your eyes and sounding out the words independently. And yes, it’s awesome when a child is able to read on their own. So awesome! Because now they can curl up with books and immerse themselves in stories and adventures, and they can decide where this reading adventure is going to go.
But…all kids are different, and some are bewildered and stressed by linear print. And that stress can impede their progress as they struggle to become good readers. The fact is that we all learn a little differently. Some people love typed words on pages; some need pictures and graphics; and some require an auditory component.
This is where picture book audiobooks really come into play. Picture book audiobooks are especially important for young learners because they can open up new and exciting ways of engaging with books. Combining more than one type of learning style can create powerhouse learners from the get-go. Here are just a few of the ways that picture book audiobooks can help young readers:
• Sound effects, music, oh my! Many picture books fully exploit the audio medium with well-placed sound effects and evocative music in order to provide a multi-sensory learning experience. These audio extras provide richness and depth, and honestly, they’re just so fun! Who wouldn’t want to keep reading?
• Decreasing decoding depression. Decoding words is really hard for young readers. Many times, the process of decoding is so arduous that kids forget what they were reading in the first place. They lose the thread of the story and can only remember the last word that they read. Audiobooks help kids to focus on the story’s meaning, allowing the words to decode before their eyes while they enjoy the story itself.
• Words, glorious words! Audiobooks allow young learners to access language and vocabulary that they can’t sound out for themselves. They can hear words being pronounced correctly, and they get a feel for fluent and natural language. This is a huge plus with diverse books, as parents and caretakers may not know how to pronounce certain words, but they can be confident that the narrator is there to help.
• Narrators rock! We know that storytellers can be magical, and we treasure memories of people telling bedtime stories and reading to us when we were young. These stories are special because of the connection that we feel with the storyteller, and also because they are meant to be performed. The best audiobooks are exactly the same, with talented narrators that turn words on the page into magic for the ears.
Picture book audiobooks have come a long way in recent years, and they are well worth checking out. Listening and learning along with a young reader is an amazing experience, sure to ignite a love of books that can last a lifetime. So let’s get to it…ready, set, listen!
Looking for picture books on audio? Visit the BOT Collection.
Sarah prefers to read with her ears and is a passionate advocate of audiobooks for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities. She is a public librarian and has served on many of the American Library Association’s audiobook committees, including the Odyssey Award Committee, Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, and the Listen List Council. She is also an Audies judge and is one of the co-creators of Ears on the Odyssey, a blog that focuses on audiobooks for children and teens. To read Sarah’s reviews of recent picture books on audio, including Dragons Love Tacos, Dragons Love Tacos 2, and The King of Kindergarten click HERE.