Audio Book vs. Reading

My oldest son is in 9th grade now and having to do a lot of reading for school. You should see the list of books he is going to have to consume for his literature credit this year! Not only are they some pretty tough books, “Tale of Two Cities”, “Pride & Prejudice”, but he only has two weeks to finish the majority of them. My son is a very good reader but this kind of reading is overwhelming him, and I can’t say that I blame him.

So at the very beginning of our school year, I was going to give my son the option of listening to his books via audio books. My husband objected to this, saying that he doesn’t feel it is the same as actually reading the book. I’m not sure that I share my husband’s opinion on this one.

Our son already knows how to read and teaching him to read is not the goal here. Having him comprehend and enjoy the books is the goal. I’m listening to these books as well and it would be nice to be able to have discussions with him on the content of them.

MP3 Player with ear buds

I believe there are actually some really great benefits to letting my son listen to books rather than reading them.

  • It will allow him to hear how the words should be pronounced. This will be helpful especially since there may be a lot of unfamiliar words and words from other languages. If he doesn’t know what the word means, he can always pause the recording and look it up, just like he would if he was reading it.
  • It will allow him to multi-task. My son could be doing chores while listening which would possibly make the chores fun, if that is even possible!
  • As I mentioned above, it will help him to get through some very difficult reading much more quickly.
  • I believe that he will actually comprehend the books better this way as opposed to trying to read them. Right now he is just attempting to slog through the chapters assigned for each day. I have a feeling that he is pretty much just skimming the material and not actually digesting it.
  • It will help improve his vocabulary. He will be able to understand many of the new words based on the context in which they are presented.

While I do agree that there may be times when it is preferable to have a student go through the action of decoding the words in a book, I feel that there are many times when listening to an audio book may actually be more rewarding.

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