We all know that stories are a wonderful way to escape, to dream, to imagine. But when children are less interested in reading it can be difficult to share stories with them. Audiobooks offer a brilliant way to introduce stories to children, offering the same benefits as reading a book but regardless of reading ability. Plus they can be a welcome break for parents, guardians, and teachers too! Especially for those who don’t feel confident at reading but still want to share stories with children.
DID YOU KNOW…? A recent survey by the National Literacy Trust found that audiobooks “can help develop reading skills….and build on the positive outcomes reading fosters such as wellbeing and emotional intelligence.”  So that’s the science, but how can you use them and what should you try first?
How to listen
There are a wide range of places to buy or download audiobooks. If you own a smartphone or a tablet, you’ll almost certainly already have a digital audiobook player installed in the form of either Apple Books or Google Play, and Audible’s app is also available on both ios and Android. The Roald Dahl Audiobooks App also has first chapter from all the audiobooks, read by the likes of Chris O’Dowd and Kate Winslet, so you can try before you buy. You can also search your smart phone for the Podcast app. Once there, look for the free Puffin Podcast which is presented by Humza Arshad and his sidekicks and filled with fun facts, jokes and stories.
Listen anytime and anywhere
Audiobooks can be played any time. Simply download to your mobile device, computer, or via an app. Children could listen just after lights out, early in the morning or even while they’re tidying up. Or you could make it a relaxing moment for everyone to escape the real world – top recommendation would be Alice in Wonderland read by Sheridan Smith.
Create an audiobooks listening den
Comfy seats are a must and you could even theme your den around the audiobook that you’re listening to- maybe a pirate ship for Treasure Island or a dream-inspired cave for The BFG.
Find books read by familiar voices
Audiobooks often feature a well-known voice that children will know and love, with lots of actors and celebrities taking a starring role, like The Enormous Crocodile read by Stephen Fry or Happy Families read by Alexander Armstrong. These narrators help bring our favourite stories to life.
Try out 3D audiobooks
3D audio is like a surround-sound experience, played to you through your headphones so that it sounds like you’re in the middle of the action. What better book to try it with than James and the Giant Peach?Be amongst the first to listen to Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach with extra squish and squelch.
Ask children to illustrate what is happening in the story as they listen. Why not play some story games too? Pause the audiobook after each chapter ends or an exciting extract and ask children to draw or write what they think happens next.
Make your own audiobook
You could even make your own audiobook! Encourage children to read their favourite stories or even write their own, and record their audiobooks on a mobile device or laptop. And of course, every audiobook needs some great character voices and sound effects! Encourage children to use the everyday household or classroom objects around them to make stormy sea sounds or summer day in a city sounds.
Connect with stories
Like books, audiobooks are a fantastic way to connect with people. Children can share their listening and recording experiences even with those they can’t be with, providing some much needed connectivity at this time. And that is what is so great about stories – we can still explore the world, imagine far off places and share our experiences with loved ones – even if we are unable to go anywhere.
With thanks to @bookactivist1 for contributing to this article.