Sunday, April 30, 2017

Audiobooks for Summer Reading: Research + Recommendations

I have seen the power of audiobooks throughout my professional and personal life. They engage readers, help them build mental images of stories, and develop children's vocabulary. I am excited to share my experiences and recommendations, along with a survey of current research on the impact of audiobooks, in an upcoming EdWeb webinar:
Preventing the Summer Slide with Audiobooks
Monday, May 8, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT
via, sponsored by Tales2Go
Reading during the summer is essential, as the vast majority of parents and children know. Yet still, many students only read a handful of books during this 3 month break. The result is that they lose many of the gains they've made during the school year. This impacts students across the board, but has a especially significant impact on low-income students.

Listening to professionally narrated audiobooks is a great way to prevent the “summer slide.” In this edWeb webinar, I will present research findings from a 2016 study looking at the effect of adding a listening component to literacy instruction—in school and at home. I will specifically address its impact on student vocabulary, reading comprehension and motivation to read. I will put this in a broader context of reading develop, examining reasons why listening comprehension is key to developing strong readers.

I will also share my experience watching students use audiobooks on a regular basis and consider the importance of providing year-round digital access to audiobooks. Finally, I will share recommendations of some of our favorite audiobooks for summer listening.

This live, interactive session is designed for PreK-12 librarians as well as reading coaches, ELL specialists/teachers, Title I teachers and administrators, district librarians, and classroom teachers. Join us to learn how to prevent the summer slide with audiobooks!

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. As a writer, I raised two girls on audiobooks. We played them in the car, in the house. As a result, they began testing at a post high school "oral" vocabulary in elementary school. I remember, one day, a fourth grade teacher accused me of writing my daughter's homework - a short story in which she used the phrase "he stood there, transfixed." I told her to put my daughter on speakerphone. I then asked "Do you know what that word means?" My daughter replied, "Don't you? It means he was riveted!"

    The teacher said "Oh. Our kids don't use language that sophisticated." I said "They would if they listened to audiobooks. We also use the same language in the house."

    So yes - I often coach parents, especially in urban areas where students enter school with a lower than average vocabulary, to check out audiobooks in the library and play them in the car or at bathtime. Or even at bedtime if they're too tired to read to their children. Hearing advanced language in context is key.

    A few months ago, a local elementary school invited me to read to parents at an evening event. The principal reported she'd been reading my middle grade series to second graders. In one scene, the protagonist cuts his hair much to the horror of his father. He asked his father if he thought the mother would go "ballistic" over the choice. The principal said she asked the second graders to discuss with a partner the meaning of that word in the book. The kids then told her "It means his mother is going to get really mad!"

    The principal then asked parents to get the book and read it to their children. She said "This is an author who doesn't talk 'down' to our children."

    Language - in context - without pictures - can often be a useful tool. Kids are much smarter and much more absorbent sponges than we give them credit for being.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this -- yes, yes, yes. Audiobooks really make an impact.