Audiobooks are underrated and underutilized as classroom resources and literacy tool. They provide a means to introduce students to literature that is unfamiliar or materials that otherwise may go overlooked. Audiobooks also help students practice listening skills that are required by Common Core. In addition, possibly the most important reason to integrate audiobooks into classroom resources; they are especially beneficial for use with reluctant readers and students with learning challenges associated with reading.
Audiobooks and Students With Reading Challenges
Students can keep up in other areas of their academics when using audiobooks to supplement or replace printed texts. A student struggling in science may not have a problem with the concepts and ideas being introduced but instead has challenges around deciphering printed, complex text. Due to this they may fall behind and becomes frustrated because they cannot keep up with assignments. In most cases providing students audiobook support for the text allows the students the ability to continue gaining grade-appropriate knowledge, even as they continue to work at improving below-level reading skills.
Using audiobooks lets reading challenged students experience text at natural reading speed. Natural reading speed is rooted in the natural rhythms of speech and helps readers slow down as they attempt to decode the script. This can be especially useful when paired with printed text.
Audiobooks also allow teachers to share books and information that is age and content appropriate but may be too difficult for students to read independently. It may even allow for introducing materials that are above level in areas such as vocabulary. In most cases, students that are reluctant readers or face reading challenges have no problem with understanding thematic and more challenging works when they are not forced to try and make sense of the text and are instead free to absorb the information or enjoy the story .
Where To Get Audiobooks
Audiobooks are still available in most libraries and bookstores. Using today's digital technology, many titles (old and new) are available for download or online listening.
Big Universe offers a large selection of "Read Along" texts available for students anywhere there is an internet connection.
How To Use Audiobooks
Here are some ideas for using audiobooks in the classroom to encourage reluctant readers and support those with reading challenges.
1) At the beginning or end of class
Take 10 to 20 minutes at the beginning or end of class to share an audiobook with students. The selection can be a book that the class is reading for a novel study or it could be purely for pleasure. This is a great time to introduce students to literary classics, popular literature, specific genres or favorite stories.
2) Lunchtime/After-school Audiobook Clubs
This is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to use audiobooks in the classroom. Audiobooks allow for book clubs that are not focused on the reading level of the members and thus provides a place where students of various reading abilities can work together. Audiobook collections like the one at Big Universe make this even easier since students can listen to the chosen book anytime/anyplace with an Internet connection and don't have to worry about checkout or return. Plus, with Big Universe students can use the "Friends" function to enhance the book club experience with online conversation.
3) Literature teases and reviews
Play short clips from selected audiobook to students. Just like a movie trailer; if done well, the audience will want more!
Common Core Links
English Language Arts Standards - Speaking and Listening: Introduction http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/SL/introduction/
English Language Arts Standards - Reading Literature: Introduction http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/introduction-for-k-5/
Other Reference and Resources
http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/v30n3/brown.html Evaluation of Audio Books: a guide for Teachers
http://dyslexia.yale.edu/DYS_bookpage_macomberaudiobooks.html Why I Love Audiobooks
http://press.etc.cmu.edu/node/203 Visual Literacy and Learning: finding online territories for the slow learner
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.118.8463&rep=rep1&type=pdf A Review of Technology-Based Approaches for Reading Instruction: Tools for Researchers and Vendors (list of challenges and how technology can help.
http://www.audiobookexpress.ca/audiobooks_literacy.pdf Audiobooks and Literacy: An Educator's Guide to Utilizing Audiobooks in the Classroom