Amazing Audio Books - And How They Can Help Literacy Skills

Those of us of a certain age might still remember that golden time at the end of the day when our class teachers read to us, introducing us to a whole host of magical worlds and wonderful characters. In the modern crowded curriculum there isn’t always time to have a designated reading slot, but fear not! ICT is at hand to bring books to life!
You might already know that audio books have been one of the fastest growing areas for the last couple of years when it comes to stories. If you’re lucky (?) enough to have an Alexa, or a Siri, or a Google Home, or even a Cortana in your home, then you might know that one of the apps or skills available is to ask to have a story read to you.
It’s not all fun, fun, fun though – in a recent study, the National Literacy Trust found that audio books can also help children learn. The study found that audio books are a force for good, with results including an improvement in children’s reading skills and how much they enjoy reading. Audio books help children develop their emotional intelligence, and have a positive effect on mental well-being, while widening the access of children to books.
Taking a Reading While Listening approach can also help with literacy, vocabulary, confidence, and general language acquisition. Getting a child to read along at the same time as the speaker can benefit oracy and storytelling skills.   Other studies have looked at eye movements to establish how engaged the learners are in the story and the effects on their comprehension.
In families where parents or guardians may not be confident or enthusiastic readers themselves, audio books offer an excellent way for listeners to engage. And if you add in a bilingual element, via the PENpal for example, this can be extremely helpful with language learning. This can range from pronunciation to fluency to general comprehension.
With children’s books in particular, since so many are enhanced with illustrations to help explain the text, comprehension can be dramatically improved by adding an audio track. So plug in the speakers, pop on the headphones, make sure you’re sitting comfortably, and let’s begin. But where? Mantra Lingua's Kitabu range of audio books covers over 1750 titles and are in English with 35+ languages. Children can engage with the stories also in their home language.
(All accessed 20 March 2020)
Friedland, A. et al (2017), Does Reading-While-Listening Enhance Students' Reading Fluency? Preliminary Results from School Experiments in Rural Uganda, Journal of Education and Practice 8(7) 82-95,
Lothian-McLean, M. (2019), Audiobooks Predicted to Overtake UK Ebook Sales in 2020, The Independent, 2 December 2019,
National Literacy Trust (2020), Audiobooks and literacy: a rapid review of the literature, 17 February 2020,