Audio books for children under 5 years – What to consider

Along with writing and math, reading is an essential skill for your child to develop for success in school. Unfortunately, many children have no interest in reading aloud on a regular basis. Parents are discovering audiobooks, where reading aloud with music and sound effects not only offers ease of use, but often engages children in ways that simply reading a book cannot.

Why are audiobooks and audio dramas important for children’s development?

  • Audiobooks help develop your child’s imagination because your child has to picture the scenes and characters described.
  • They promote better vocabulary and understanding of words, their meanings, and how they work.
  • Your child may be encouraged to read the book on which the audio is based.
  • Audio books help children cope better with longer journeys as they can be played in the car or even on trains and buses.
  • Children who have a hard time falling asleep on their own may find it easier to listen to stories when they go to bed to relax.
  • Great for developing listening skills as they require quiet concentration.
  • Listening to books read aloud teaches appreciation of phrasing.
  • Authors write some books to be read aloud and listening to them is more authentic than reading them.
  • Audiobooks help your child understand complex language.
  • Listening to a book read helps your child learn punctuation, pronunciation, and stress, all of which emphasize the meaning of a text and improve speaking and writing skills.
  • Children who listen to audiobooks learn to understand language beyond their reading level and learn new words and advanced constructs.
  • Audiobooks are excellent tools for dyslexic children and children with other reading disabilities. If your child has an attention deficit disorder, listening is more distraction-free than reading.
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What is the difference between audio books and audio plays?

The main difference between an audio book and an audio play is that an audio book has one narrator, and an audio play has several narrators. The audio also differs, in an audiobook music can be integrated, but in a radio play, in addition to the music, sounds are inserted to allow the listener to experience deeply.

Which is better for kids and why?

The rise of audiobooks in recent years has made “reading” something that can be done while commuting, cooking, or falling asleep. At the very least, the best audiobooks can keep kids entertained on long car rides and, at best, promote advanced vocabulary and inspire a love of reading. But is it cheating? Do audiobooks help children learn to read? Will introducing audiobooks to children make reading actual books less fascinating?

When it comes to helping kids learn to read, experts say audiobooks have a twofold role: helping kids recognize words by modelling fluent reading and expanding their vocabulary and motivating new or weaker readers by giving them a taste of how much fun reading can be.

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When children first learn to read, they must decode or pronounce each word and translate it from a symbol to something with meaning. Since they are working so hard to just read each word, it can be difficult for them to retain and follow the information. This can be a really frustrating experience. Listening to an audiobook does this work for them and allows them to retain the narration.

Some children may be ready to learn at a level above what they can read, and audiobooks allow them to consume more complex information than they could read on their own.

According to a study of 20 students with reading disabilities, researchers found that students who were given audiobooks to listen to while they followed the text showed greater improvement in reading skills after eight weeks than those who were given only the text. The researchers measured progress by comparing how many correct words the students could read per minute before and after the eight-week treatment. While students who received only print books were able to read about four more words per minute than before, students who received audiobooks in addition to print books recorded an increase of 17 words per minute.

For parents interested in using audiobooks as a teaching tool, Rich recommends that parents sit with children while an audiobook is playing and run their finger over the words as they are read aloud. When teaching younger children, Rich recommends that parents give children puppets and have them act out the story so they are more actively engaged and participating.

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That’s because while audiobooks are a great supplement for parents reading to their children, they can’t replace that social-emotional aspect of learning.

What should you pay special attention to with children under 5?

For the youngest children, audio plays with a lot of repetition and concise voices make sense. With audio stories, however, a soothing voice and the experience of the audio play are of great benefit to child development. A varied audio play for toddlers can entertain a long car ride, a quiet audio book is more likely to provide during a shared snuggle time. Listening to stories together with adults creates shared experiences and bonding.

Well suited for children under the age of 5 is anything that has to do with their everyday life, as it is at this age that they discover the world and their surroundings. In stories about their everyday lives, such as brushing their teeth or going to the playground, even two-year-olds recognize parallels to themselves. Appropriate background sounds make it easier for children to follow the story.

Which topics are suitable for children?

Educationally meaningful audio plays or themes that activate and accompany children’s self-education processes.

Classics by Astrid Lindgren, such as Pippi Longstocking, or by Michael Ende Jim Knopf or The Neverending Story, as well as good old fairy tales for young children, have not gone out of fashion. Often, audio plays for the very young complete the existing picture and read-aloud books and, in addition to the sensitive narration of the actual story from the book model, integrate funny children’s songs or melodies to sing along or catchy rhymes as well. With the current variety of audio books, you can even filter by interests for older children. Just rummage around at audible.

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What should parents look for when choosing audio plays and audio books?

With audio books, parents should make sure that they are not too boring for children. Radio plays, on the other hand, should not be too action-packed. It is important that the narrators speak at an appropriate pace and in a manner appropriate for children. The music should not dominate the audio play.

When buying audiobooks, ask – preferably at the bookstore – which audio books are recommended and base your decision on your child’s interests.

If parents “listen,” they can pretty much gauge which topic the child finds particularly interesting or exciting at any given time based on the selection of audio plays. Favorite stories are often listened to over and over again for days or weeks, until the life topic dealt with in them has more or less “settled”. Use this opportunity to talk in detail not only about the story, but also about your child’s moods and needs, and let them tell you about them.

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