The Benefits of Audio Books for Literacy Development

Having your child listen to audio books has many benefits. Learn good times for audio books, the benefits, and good follow-up questions for your kids. 

Child listening to headphones

Here is our latest guest post from Susanne. Thanks Susanne!


I am huge advocate for allowing children to listen to books on tape and CD. There are many benefits that arise from allowing your children to enjoy a book on tape.

Benefits of Audio Books

  • Exposed to vocabulary that is not regularly used at home or at school.
  • Are able to hear the intonation and dramatization of stories. This helps children to understand how one should read with expression. Reading with expression helps children to build meaning and comprehension while reading.
  • For older children who struggle to read, books on tape open a door to reading that allows them to develop vocabulary at or above their level.
  • If listening to a book on tape is accompanied with the actual book, children can follow along. This allows them to read words they cannot read on their own. It also allows your child independence to interact with a story without an adult.
  • It helps them to develop good listening skills- essential for later success in school.

Audio books literacy development benefits Pinnable image

When are good times to use a book on tape/ CD?

  • In the car: Your children are captive at this time. You can all listen to the book on tape together. Occasionally stop the tape and ask them questions about what they have heard. This creates good discussion and helps them to develop great reading skills for later in life.
  • During quite time/ structure learning time: You can rent books at the library in the children’s section that come with a book. You can let your preschooler listen and follow along on the tape. Than afterwards, have them draw a picture in a journal about what they read. If they can write, you can always have them write something they liked in the story. You can also have them dictate to you what they like or a description about their picture if they cannot write yet.
  • Before Bed: Children are most vulnerable at night. They are most often more willing to let their defenses down and talk. As a family you could listen to a part of book on take. Than have a family discussion about what you just heard. If the parent shows interest in the book, your child will learn to show interest and enter into a discussion too.

Questions to ask your child during and after listening to a book on tape/ CD

  • Predictions- before listening to the story or pause the tape and ask, “what do you think will happen next in the story” or “what do you think will happen in this story..” Make sure you model and show them how to make predictions yourself so they understand what you are asking them to do.
  • Connections- before or after reading the story, ask them if the story reminded them of anything? For instance, if the story had a dog, you could say, “the dog in the story reminded me of how our dog Max always chases cats.” Or if the story was about a boy who went to a baseball game, you could discuss the time your family went to the baseball game and how it was similar and different.
  • Why- you can ask your children why questions. For instance, you could ask a question such as, “Why do you think Henry lied to his mom?” This brings up some good discussion!
  • Did you like it?- Ask your child if he or she liked the story. Make sure to have them explain why they liked it. They should use at least one example to support their reason. For instance, “I liked this story because I like ponies” (ponies were in the story). Or, “I liked the story because the kids get to go the beach. I liked it when we went to the beach this summer.”
  • Summarize- at the end of the story have your child tell you what the story was about. There should be a beginning, a middle, and an end to the retell of the story.


6 thoughts on “The Benefits of Audio Books for Literacy Development”

  1. I think this is SO important! You can probably find books on tape at the library, but another idea is to get blank tapes and have yourself, grandparents, fathers, aunts, uncles, etc. record stories. Children love listening to stories from familiar voices! I did this when I was a teacher, and my students loved hearing the books their parents had recorded for our classroom.

  2. Great post. Here's a great Christmas special by Weekly Reader. 12 hard cover children books AND matching CD recordings for $24.95. Yep. Shipping is only $3 too. just received my order and they're very good quality books and recordings. I ordered a second set to give away as birthday gifts. Very pleased.

  3. I started doing audiobooks with my 3.5-year-old DS for quiet time. Our favorites are the Frog and Toad Collection, the Bill Martin/Eric Carle series starting with Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, and a Smithsonian Institute Oceanic Collection (Dolphin's First Day, Manatee Winter, Great White Shark, Little Walrus Warning…). We got the first two from the library and the Smithsonian Institute Collection (gorgeous, educational, and well-loved by DS) as a (pretty expensive!) gift.I need to incorporate more of the questions and discussion about them. We have acted out one of the stories together with great success. I find it hard to have question-answer discussions with DS b/c it is not his strength, but that's probably a great reason to practice having them. Thanks for this post!


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