A third of students are auditory learners who understand information most effectively when they hear it rather than read it. For aural learners and students struggling to read, staying motivated and engaged with books is vital to developing literacy skills.

Learning tools

Incorporating audiobooks into the classroom and at home supports print-based literacy, promoting strong vocabulary and comprehension and providing a model for pronunciation and the rhythm of language. Common Core State Standards (now adopted in 42 states) place an emphasis on listening skills, especially in grades K-5, where listening is assessed equally with reading, writing and speaking.

"'For some readers, choosing to listen to an audiobook rather than flipping through book pages will be more interesting, more rewarding and even more educational...'”

Struggling readers can listen to a book two grade levels above their reading level. This helps them keep pace with peers—especially important with older students, who may be self-conscious about their abilities. “I’ve used audiobooks in my classroom for over ten years and watched them change my students’ lives,” attests Phyllis Jacobs, Reading Chair at Atlantis Academy in Miami, FL.

Gender lines

Boys lag behind their female peers in reading. For 30 years, girls have outscored boys on U.S. Department of Education reading tests. The Brookings Institution’s 2015 Brown Center Report on American Education cites differences in cognitive development, unaccommodating school practices and cultural influences that portray reading as a female activity as key factors.

Literacy organization Guys Read advises giving boys a greater choice in what they read and expanding the definition of reading to include materials like graphic novels and audiobooks.

“For some readers, choosing to listen to an audiobook rather than flipping through book pages will be more interesting, more rewarding and even more educational,” says Dr. Rose Brock, Sam Houston State University Department of Library Science. Skeptics may say that listening isn’t really “reading,” but educators and researchers have refuted that argument, proving that audiobooks are a crucial classroom literacy tool.