I think that many parents overlook audiobooks because they may believe that listening to them is “cheating”. They believe that the child does not really read such books, but simply listens to the narrator and therefore, gets no real benefit out of them. In my opinion however, audiobooks can be an excellent addition to your children’s literary arsenal. Just as I have promoted having a variety of reading materials for your children readily available, such as comic books, I would also include audiobooks. And, when I refer to audiobooks, I am referring to books with audio, not just the audio by itself.
To get someone to understand the true benefits of audiobooks, a person simply has to observe a child engaged with one. The child is paying close attention, looking very intently at what is on each page in the book. This develops the ability to concentrate. Also, the child is learning to link words with images. As the narrator reads, the child follows along and turns pages. This develops understanding and coordination. Additionally, the child is learning how to follow a train of thought and connect with it, and then how to move on to something else.
Some parents complain about a child’s inability to keep pace with the narrator, leading to frustrations. I personally observed that with my sons when they started using audiobooks. It is very important that the parent be there when the child is listening to one. If the child has a problem, the parent can immediately assist. Of further importance is that the parent has selected an age-appropriate audiobook. Just as with regular books, a parent needs to make certain that an audiobook has the appropriate content and is of the correct age level for the child.