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Listen Up This Year!

resolutions-3889989_1920Are you a resolution maker? Intention setter? Goal getter? However you like to start the year, we suggest adding listening to your list. These are just a few of the many great reasons you'll love listening this year:

Academic Improvement

Listening to sophisticated, spoken language improves vocabulary and fluency, by providing context. Language acquisition begins with listening. Babies begin to acquire building blocks for language, just as young children learn grammar, syntax, and pronunciation listening to the people around them. As students progress through school, providing them regular access to fluent, spoken reading gives them the exposure they need to build their vocabularies and strengthens their foundations for reading and writing. 

A Solution for Different Learners

Many students (young and old) struggle with the decoding required for reading printed text. Students with particular learning challenges (e.g. dyslexia) may have difficulty keeping up with their peers' reading level. Students with attention disorders may not find sitting to read a book enjoyable. Whatever the cause for students' struggles with reading, listening to books may be a solution. Listening allows students to hear the story and process the information without the added hurdle of decoding the letters and words on the page. Listening activities like playing with slime, coloring, or even knitting can provide just enough physical stimulation to allow people with attention difficulties to concentrate on the content. 

Audio Scaffolding

Similar to the point above, students can often understand the content of books at a higher level than they are able to independently read. Audio content serves as a ladder, or scaffold, for students to reach higher levels. In particular, students of English as a second language can benefit from listening to stories to give them the exposure and experience with hearing the different language sounds.

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Opportunities for Engagement

Families (and classrooms) who listen together, talk to each other. With everyone's busy schedules, it can be tough to squeeze in quality conversation time. Listening to a story together is a great way to include everyone. At school, you can listen during quiet time, while clearing up after a lesson, or during pack up time at the end of the day. At home, put on a story and each family member can do their own quiet activities while listening together. If you have a bluetooth speaker or home assistant device, you can pair your phone to play the story louder. Younger listeners can understand and enjoy stories at a higher reading level and will ask questions that spark conversation and engagement with older children and adults. If you have students who are reluctant to participate in group conversation, get them talking about the characters in the story first and eventually segue into comparisons between the story and their own lives.

Titles to Try

Family listening

Wings of Fire by Shannon McManus

A thrilling new series soars above the competition and redefines middle-grade fantasy fiction for a new generation! The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy -- a foretelling that calls for great sacrifice. Five dragonets are collected to fulfill the prophecy, raised in a hidden cave and enlisted, against their will, to end the terrible war. But not every dragonet wants a destiny. And when the select five escape their underground captors to look for their original homes, what has been unleashed on the dragon world may be far more than the revolutionary planners intended...

The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

What would happen if you discovered that your family was one of the most powerful in human history? What if you were told that the source of the family's power was hidden around the world, in the form of 39 Clues? What if you were given a choice – take a million dollars and walk away…or get the first Clue? If you're Amy and Dan Cahill, you take the Clue – and begin a very dangerous race.

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve

Welcome to the astounding world of Predator Cities! Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage--and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.

In the Deep Blue Sea by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone

In the Deep Blue Sea, Jack, his genius siblings Ava and Matt, and inventor Dr. Hank Witherspoon travel to the Hawaiian island home of Ashley Hawking, a technology billionaire. Hawking and engineer Rosa Morris have built a revolutionary electricity plant that harvests energy from the deep ocean, but someone has been sabotaging the project. In their search for the culprit, Jack and crew navigate an unusual world of characters and suspects, including Hawking and her obnoxiously intelligent son, Steven; a family of surfers who accuse the billionaire of trespassing on sacred land; an ex-Navy SEAL with a fondness for cat photos; and a cigar-chomping man who calls himself the Air-Conditioning King of Hawaii. Readers will learn about the mysteries of the deep ocean, the scientific process, and the potential of green energy as Jack and his brilliant siblings use all their brainpower to survive. Integrating real science facts with humor and suspense and featuring a multiethnic cast of boy and girl characters, this engaging series is an irresistible combination for middle-grade readers. With easy-to-read language presented in a fun and accessible way, these books are great for both inquisitive kids and reluctant readers.

In the Deep Blue Sea: Jack and the Geniuses Book 2 includes information about the science discussed and used to solve the mystery, as well as a cool project that kids can do at home or in the classroom.

** This guest post was written by blog contributor, Jenny Holt.

We believe children need to be good listeners before they can become great readers. We also believe that listening skills lead to better writing skills - for many of the same reasons.

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