Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Audio Books and Literacy

Did you know?... One of the Common Core Anchor Standards for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade is "Speaking and Listening"?  Since teachers at Cedarhome Elementary have been teaching toward the Common Core Standards they have discovered that students need practice listening to text being read aloud to them and then be able to participate in discussions or respond to questioning.   

Two articles I've recently read online are what prompted me to mention this Anchor Standard.  The first article was on the "Reading Rockets" website titled "Listen and Learn with Audio Books", by Rachael Walker (2017).  She stated that "Audio books are a wonderful way to expose your child to complex language, expressive reading, and fantastic stories." The second article was authored by Linda Flanagan in October, 2016 (  Her article was titled "How Audiobooks Can Help Kids Who Struggle with Reading". 

Flanagan shared educator Mary Ann Scheuer's opinion that exposing kids to the spoken word through rich stories improves literacy.  Books sometimes require readers to decode every word, while stories told aloud free up the listener to connect with the story and the storyteller.  Also, for students who are not exposed to a rich array of words over their lives, well-told stories can enrich a student's vocabulary.  

Another point made was that audiobooks make a marked change in those students who hate to read. Taking away the need to decode each word, reread for meaning, and then picture the story, struggling readers listening to a story can soon "fall into the book" itself.  They will be able to participate in class discussions about plot and character.  Fluency can also improve because students can hear the narrator's pacing, tone, and expression and try to match it in their own reading.

Walker suggested when introducing audio books at home look for familiar stories your child has heard you read or tell before. Hearing a story they are familiar with can help them enjoy hearing it from a different reader and become a willing listener.  Once you've got them hooked, try something fun and new you both can enjoy. 

Audio books are available on CD's and sometimes online.  A good place to start is your public library.  Sometimes you can find a picture book or early reader that has a CD with it.  I do know that through the Sno-isle Library you can check out audio books online as well.

If you have a struggling reader at home, or just want to enjoy a book with your child in a new and exciting way try an audiobook. 
Going on a road trip this spring or during the summer? How about an audiobook to pass the time?  Don't forget to discuss the story, too!  Share your thoughts on characters and their feelings and/or actions.  Was there a problem in the story, how was it solved?  If you could write a different ending, how would you write it?  There lots of ways a family can enjoy an audiobook together!

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