There is frequent debate about the value of audio books as they compare to reading “real” books. We have heard the words “lazy” and “its cheating” tossed around when defending reading against listening. But, we wholeheartedly disagree that listening is “cheat reading”, and furthermore, its not a competition between the two, its simply a different way of experiencing literature.
Listening to audio books is still considered reading. And even better, it’s a lifesaver to people with low vision or learning disabilities. Plus, its an even better option for anyone learning to read or learning a new language.
Researchers have found that children exposed to reading at a young age excel faster in school, and children who listen to audio books while reading that same book simultaneously can increase their reading comprehension (plus is a great way to learn how to pronounce difficult words).
Adults often find that they don’t have time to read due to our busy schedules, or our lack of desire to keep our eyes open after a long day. Well! You can listen to audio books during your commute. I have found that it’s a great defense against road rage. But, you can also listen during lunch, while grocery shopping, at the gym, while you clean, or when going for a walk. Audio books make reading accessible no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
I admit, the biggest difference between reading and listening is that reading is active, whereas listening is passive because somebody else is reading to you. If you’re listening while letting your mind wander, the audio book continues with or without your engagement. Then again, I have worked with children who are able to read 50 pages in 20 minutes, but when prompted, they were unable to describe what they had just read. Reading is not about being able to identify the words on a page, it is about comprehension and understanding the context of the situations in the stories.
There is no significant difference in comprehension between reading, listening, or reading and listening simultaneously. Audio books provide the ability to reach learners with different abilities, and invites another way for people to connect despite differences in reading or learning abilities.
When searching for something to listen to here’s my advice to you: Figure out what works for you. Some people can read or listen to anything. Others prefer to listen to certain types of books or certain authors, others may prefer a narrator over anything else, and for me, personally, I prefer to read nonfiction books but to listen to fiction stories with a good narrator.
The South Sioux City Public Library has audio books galore! Inside the library we have books on CD that can be checked out just like a regular book. Plus, we have Libby and Overdrive, two apps you can download on your phone and check out our library’s audio books directly on your digital device. We’re always available if you need assistance with downloading or checking out digital audio books.
Visit us Monday through Thursday evenings to grab a quick listen of our audio book of the week!