As a lifelong reader but only a recent audiobook convert, I love hearing about all the added benefits of audiobooks. My son starts Kindergarten next year and is likely to attend a school 30 minutes from our house. The prospect of two hours shuttling him back and forth to school every day is not exactly a parent’s dream, but I console myself with the thought of us listening to audiobooks together in the car and having meaningful conversations about them, a practice that will surely continue into his surly, withdrawn teenage years and bind us together over shared listening in a made-for-Lifetime-television mother-son relationship. (Please don’t spoil my idyllic image of family listening with realities of oversleeping, forgotten backpacks, traffic jams, and bad early morning attitudes.) But audiobooks have tremendous value to children beyond bonding with Mom in the car. They are a powerful literacy tool for emerging and struggling readers. The professional narration of audiobooks provides a model for fluency and correct pronunciation. Audiobooks increase reading speed and allow children to read books that are above their grade level. Teachers, parents, and librarians can all use audiobooks to promote literacy in school and at home.

The Audio Publishers Association has put together an outstanding collection of resources to help educators and librarians expand their use of audiobooks for literacy at, all free to use. With the expertise of teacher-librarian Mary Burkey, youth services librarian Sharon Grover, and librarian Lizette Hannegan, the website includes numerous, in-depth lesson plans, annotated collection lists with Common Core standards noted for each title, an impressive infographic showing the benefits of audio for literacy, videos demonstrating student testimonials and the use of audiobooks in the classroom, and much more. It is a comprehensive toolkit for adding or expanding the use of audiobooks to promote literacy for both new and older readers. Check out these stats, pulled from the Sound Learning infographic (sources available in the Sound Learning bibliography), and then head over to Sound Learning to see which tools you can use to add audiobooks to your literacy efforts.

  • Audio increases reading accuracy by 52%
  • Audio improves comprehension by 76%
  • Combining print and audio increases recall 40% over print alone
  • Test scores increased 21% when engaged in multi-modal learning versus single-mode

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