Will listening to audiobooks make it harder for my kid to learn to read?

You'll be happy to hear that the answer is no. Listening to audiobooks won't slow down the development of your child's reading skills. In fact, many experts will tell you it can help make your child a better reader.

The first thing to know is that listening to audiobooks isn't "cheating." The main purpose of reading is to get information. It doesn't matter what path that information takes to reach the brain.

It's actually a good thing for your child to read with both eyes and ears at the same time. That kind of multisensory reading can help with two main aspects of reading. It can improve both decoding skills and reading comprehension.

Decoding involves learning which sounds each letter makes (phonics). Hearing words while seeing them helps your child make those sound-symbol relationships.

But reading involves more than just decoding. Your child also needs to understand the meaning of what's being read.

Right now, if decoding is hard, your child may be putting a lot of effort into sounding out the words. Your child may not be able to put them together to understand what they're saying. Audiobooks can remove the need for decoding so your child can focus on the meaning.

One of the greatest benefits of audiobooks is that they can motivate struggling readers. If your child isn't reading at grade level, he or she may not be able to read the same books as classmates and friends. That can lead to frustration.

If your child listens to those books, it can increase engagement and motivation and keep that frustration from taking over. In grade school, it's important to develop a love of books. Your child needs to be willing to become a better reader in order for skills to improve.

It's important to find books that will draw your child in and hold interest. Check out these great audiobooks and learn how to find free audiobooks.

By Jamie Martin, an assistive technology consultant and Understood.org expert.

Shared in partnership with Understood.org, a free resource and community supporting parents of the one in five kids with learning and attention issues, like dyslexia and ADHD. Common Sense Media is a founding partner of Understood.org. Copyright ⓒ Understood.org USA LLC 2018.

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