Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Audiobooks for Little Ones: Reading and Listening Together

When you walk into the Children's Department, one of the first things you'll see are a bunch of hanging bags. Many people walk by without knowing what these bags contain, and they're pretty great.  Each bag contains a book, along with a CD with the audio for that book!  These book/CD combos are wonderful tools to help little ones feel more independence in their reading experiences.

We have a very wide collection of book/CD combos.  The majority of what we have are picture books, but there are a few nonfiction and easy reader selections mingled in there.  They're great for use at home or in the car, and teachers and childcare providers often check them out to use in listening stations and classrooms.  (They're located right next to the audiobooks on CD and the Playaways, which are also wonderful, and are usually for readers who are a little older.)

Additionally, the Watertown Free Public Library subscribes to a wonderful service called Tumblebooks.  Tumblebooks has a wide variety of books, ranging from picture books through chapter books, where the child can visually see the pages and hear the text read to them.  Additionally, the words change color as they're read aloud.  To explore this wonderful resource, click on the link and then enter your library card number.

All of these resources strongly support literacy development.  Reading and listening at the same time helps children learn using multiple modalities, so they're learning with both their eyes and ears simultaneously.  For kids who are a little bit reluctant to spend time reading, combining these two learning styles can often inspire more motivation and excitement about reading.  And the dual-learning model is especially helpful for English Language Learners.

Want to find out more?  Check out some of this research indicating that audiobooks strongly support literacy development:

Listening to Learn: Audiobooks Supporting Literacy by Sharon Grover and Lizette Hannegan.  This is a full-length book for anyone interested in learning a whole lot about this fascinating topic.

"Talking Books: Using Multimedia to Support Learning and Literacy," a 2008 article by Susan Bowdoin and Jonathan Brinkerhoff in the journal Learning and Leading with Technology.  The full text article is available through Academic OneFile, one of our research databases.

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