5 Ways to Encourage a Love of Literacy with Audiobooks

girl listening intensely.jpg

The overall goal is for our students to become proficient readers. Each student takes a different journey to reach proficiency, but there are many ways educators can setup literacy instruction to support and promote a love of literacy. This post will focus on three ways in the classroom and two at home to engage students in listening to reading. 

1. In School: Whole Group

A traditional whole group read aloud includes a class of engaged listeners sitting “criss cross applesauce” on the floor while the teacher reads a book aloud- maybe a new picture book or perhaps a continuation of a chapter book from the previous read aloud session. Most kids look forward to this and often even talk to their friends and family about the book. But what makes the experience of an audiobook read aloud different than this traditional method?

  • Audiobooks provide students with diverse professional voices (male, female, young, old, different accents, etc.)
  • Professional narrators deliver expressively and fluently read text with correct pronunciations of names, cities, etc.
  • Music, sound effects and unique voices for different characters enhance the overall experience.
  • The teacher is freed up to support students with an activity they are completing.

As with a traditional read aloud, students can turn and talk to a partner when directed, draw what they are listening to or close their eyes to visualize. Each of these activities provides a different experience for students to participate in the text.

Tip: use the audiobook version as a replacement for a title you can’t find or is checked out from the school or local library. 

2. In School: Small Group

In many general education classrooms, teachers divide students up into leveled groups for part of the daily literacy instruction. The teacher goes around to each group throughout the week to check progress. Listening is simple (and important) to incorporate into these small groups.

  • Students can listen up to 2 levels higher than they can read- so challenge your lower readers to comprehend a higher level text (which is probably at their interest level.)
  • Choose the audiobook titles ahead of time for each group. Make sure students know that they must listen for a certain amount of time (usually 20 minutes.)
  • Have students complete an activity together such as a graphic organizer, a collaborative book report, or comprehension questions. 

Working with each group is a good opportunity for direct instruction, observation and note taking. You can present questions for the students to answer as well as assist with questions the students have during listening.

Tip: print out copies of graphic organizers ahead of time and keep them in one place for the students to grab when they are ready.

Small group listening

3. In School: Individual

Many classrooms have great libraries for students to choose a book from. But what if the book they want is taken, or they want to read something that's just a bit too hard?  Choose an audiobook! When you have access to such a broad range of audiobook titles, it’s easy to engage every student based on their interest level or skill they need to work on.

  • Allow listening to audiobooks as a choice during SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) or even when they have completed other work.
  • Provide an activity or white board for the students to draw on to stay engaged. 
  • Offer individual listening as a station during indoor recess, or before dismissal time.

Tip: give students a choice of 8-10 titles - providing them with options is helpful to keep them on track with such a large selection.

4. At Home: For Pleasure

Many students have the opportunity to visit the school library weekly to find one or two good books to read on their own time. Students should also listen to books outside of school for pleasure. Many struggling or discouraged readers will enjoy this new opportunity to enjoy reading in a different way.

  • As this post mentions earlier, students are able to listen at a higher level than where they are reading, so they can choose titles at their interest level and still be able to comprehend them.
  • Encourage listening with family members by sending a list of titles good for all ages (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Little Women, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, etc.)

Tip: view more ways to engage with parents and download login guides here.

listening to audiobooks for pleasure

5. At Home: Assignments

After students are comfortable with the audiobook service, you can give listening assignments for homework. This new and unique assignment will invite students to try something different - and maybe even enjoy it.

  • Audiobooks should be an option for your students to reach the common “20 minutes per night” minimum reading assignment.
  • Send home a list of age/grade appropriate titles along with a packet of graphic organizers.

Tip: show students a demo of how to search/browse for titles in school and give them some time to explore titles before using the program at home.

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Photo courtesy of @elisa_ventur

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