Audiobooks for Elementary Literacy Instruction: What to Know

Oct 26, 2023
Audiobooks elementary literacy Edmentum article

Unlocking your students’ love of reading is key to ensuring they can achieve academic success later in their careers. However, that experience can turn sour quickly if your students struggle with phonemic awareness and phonics skills. When students are struggling with how to pronounce sounds and words, they never have the chance to fully comprehend what they’re actually reading. Using audiobooks for elementary literacy instruction can be a great way to overcome these barriers.

Audiobooks can be a very powerful tool to support students’ fluency and comprehension skills while they’re still working on those underlying foundational elements. Below are some reasons why you should start using audiobooks for elementary literacy instruction and some tips and resources to get you started.

Why Use Audiobooks for Elementary Literacy Instruction?

The benefits of using audiobooks in the classroom are endless. Some of the most significant perks include the following:

  • Introduce students to books above their reading level or allow struggling students to access on-grade-level texts.
  • Model good, fluent reading.
  • Teach critical, active listening.
  • Highlight the humor, excitement, and adventure in books.
  • Introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider.
  • Introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales.
  • Sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, Old English, and old-fashioned literary styles.
  • Provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together when commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or vacation spots.
  • Support reading comprehension, particularly for below-level readers still struggling with phonics.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Using Audiobooks for Literacy Instruction

While audiobooks can work well in the classroom for many students, remember the following points when deciding if it’s right for your class.

Consider the supplies you might need to get started

Take an inventory of the technology in your classroom to make sure that you’re prepared to roll out the use of audiobooks. Say goodbye to using old CDs or cassette tapes—many audiobook resources you might use are free and available online.

Are you planning on listening to an audiobook and providing students with a physical copy of the book? Make sure that you have a classroom set of physical copies.

If you’re planning on playing one audiobook aloud to your entire class, an inexpensive speaker for your computer can help project the sound to your entire room. Or, if you’re at a school with 1:1 devices, make sure that your students have headphones to plug into their computers so as to not distract others.

Plan how you will implement audiobooks in the classroom

Audiobooks are mostly used in the form of literacy stations within a larger station-rotation model. Consider looking at the Daily 5™ framework for early literacy best practices and inspiration for how to organize your literacy instructional practice.

Make audiobooks meaningful

It’s not enough to put your students in front of a computer and expect them to magically learn to read—you know that! Embed audiobooks within a larger instructional activity or expectation so that there is a direct action for students to take after listening.

Ideas include pairing up students after listening to practice retelling the story and creating writing activities in which students apply comprehension skills such as summarizing the story, identifying the main idea, comparing and contrasting, or drawing conclusions about what they read.

Bring Audiobooks to Your Classroom Today

Are you looking to experiment with audiobooks for elementary literacy instruction and need resources for your classroom? Check out these articles below to get started:

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