Listen to a great book this summer

Published on: 13 July 2016 Author: Alex Strick

Jo Cord of Listening Books discusses the value of audiobooks to encourage summer holiday reading - especially for children with learning difficulties or other forms of disability.

Listening Books

We all know that 'reading for pleasure' has many proven benefits. It can help increase vocabulary, build self-confidence, boost writing and comprehension skills, and generally improve school performance.

Books can provide a wealth of general knowledge and insight into other lives and cultures, as well as simply offering relaxation and escapism. And, of course, 'reading for pleasure' means choosing to read for the joy of finding out what happens next - not only when it is a prescribed activity at school.

However, how can parents help support this over the summer holidays? Especially when faced with the inevitable competition from other forms of entertainment and technology?

This quandary can be especially challenging when a child has reading difficulties, as that can severely affect their motivation and enjoyment of books.

Audiobooks as an answer

Audiobooks provide an accessible, engaging way to bring brilliant books and stories into a child's life.

For a child struggling to read printed books, audiobooks remove the barriers of 'reading' a text by replacing the written word with a spoken voice.

During the summer, they are a great option for reading 'on the go', at home, in the park, on the bus or in the car.

The value of audio

Many children with a learning difficulty or disability can miss out on experiencing the same wonderful, inspiring books and stories as their peers.

However, research shows that the use of audiobooks to support education and as a resource to enable reading for pleasure can have significant benefits:

  • Audiobooks provide excellent reading role models and listening helps to build vocabulary.
  • Listening can introduce new characters, authors and genres beyond the reader's experience or reading level.
  • Following the text while listening helps to improve word recognition and reading speed.
  • Enabling children to read the same books as their peers boosts self-esteem and enthusiasm for books.
  • Listening engages the imagination and improves focus and listening skills.

Finding audiobooks

Listening Books

Since its beginnings in 1959, the national charity Listening Books has recognised the importance of audiobooks for adults and children who struggle to read in the usual way. We provide a postal and online audiobook library service for adults and children with a disability, illness, mental health issue or learning difficulty that makes it difficult to read or hold a book, or turn its pages.

For our members, audiobooks provide comfort, relaxation and vital access to literature and we know that for children, listening to books brought to life by engaging readers can help to inspire a lifelong love of literature - encouraging independent learning and improving confidence.

As one mother told us, her son who has dyslexia 'would have given up on books had it not been for the Listening Books audio CDs... Being able to listen to stories [in the car] has made it not only educational but enjoyable, and has opened up a world that he may never have had the motivation to look for otherwise.'

How Listening Books help

'The companionship and delight of a voice telling stories is incomparable. Listening Books distributes pure, undiluted pleasure and friendship.' Listening Books patron, Stephen Fry

The Listening Books audiobook library service is for adults and children who find it difficult to read due to a disability, illness, mental health issue or learning difficulty such as dyslexia or ADHD.

We have thousands of fantastic fiction titles from bestselling authors such as JK Rowling, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman, David Walliams, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and many more.

We also have non-fiction and educational titles supporting the National Curriculum, from Key Stage 2 to A-Level.

As well as a postal service, providing books on MP3 CD sent straight to our members' homes, we have a downloading and streaming service. This allows children to incorporate their favourite devices - such as tablets and smartphones - into the experience by browsing our online catalogue to choose titles independently.

Find out more

You can apply online to become a member of our audiobook library by visiting the Listening Books website, phoning us on 020 7407 9417, or emailing for more information.

You can also find more information about the benefits of membership to the library (with thanks to Evelyn Carpenter who was commissioned by Listening Books to evaluate our three-year Sound Learning pilot project, and subsequently wrote the report 'Sound Learning: An Evaluation').

The Listening Books membership fees range from £20 to £45 per year for individuals. We are currently able to provide a limited number of free membership places for those who would find it difficult to pay this fee. We have memberships for schools and organisations as well, starting from £50 per year.

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