We have been homeschooling with audiobooks for almost a decade. At first, I treated them as extras. Now, I’ve come to see them as a valuable resource in our homeschool. Here’s why.
Last week, my son’s doctor asked him about school (always a good time for a homeschool mom).
He told her all about the current book he is reading.
“I am really getting into Edgar Allan Poe again. I studied him last year and this year, I am reading more of his short stories.”
The doctor was clearly impressed, until he mentioned something about listening. Her face contorted a bit and she responded.
“Oh, you’re not actually reading those books. You’re just listening to them”
Why Do We Treat Audiobooks As Cheating or Less Than?
When my son is working on “reading” (something that is quite difficult for him as he is profoundly dyslexic) we practice reading the written word.
When my son is discovering literature, practicing language and vocabulary, completing character studies, and discussing brilliant literary themes, why should it be considered less if he “reads” through audiobooks?
Homeschooling With Audiobooks
I am really, really proud of this kid (and I am really, really tired of responses like the doctor’s above).
So far this year, in just five weeks, he has listened to:
- Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows (one of his all time favorites)
- The Murders In The Rue Morgue
- The Purloined Letter
- The Pit and The Pendulum
- The Fall Of The House Of Usher
- The Tell-Tale Heart
- The Cask Of Amontillado
- The Invisible Man
- The Strange Case Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- The Phantom Of The Opera
- The Crucible
In what world is this list somehow substandard for a 15 year-old boy?
Yet, time and time again, my well-read child is made to feel shame over how he accesses literature, instead of supporting his intellectual accomplishment.
How We Learn With Audiobooks
The New York Times recently published an article that contradicts how we typically prioritize reading books above audiobooks.
…examining how we read and how we listen shows that each is best suited to different purposes, and neither is superior.
In fact, they overlap considerably. Once you’ve identified the words (whether by listening or reading), the same mental process comprehends the sentences and the paragraphs they form.
Indeed, research shows that adults get nearly identical scores on a reading test if they listen to the passages instead of reading them.Is Listening to a Book Just as Good as Reading It?
This has certainly proven to be true in my own home. My son’s access to and interest in listening to audiobooks has given him a college level vocabulary on standardized testing. More importantly, he is becoming more and more thoughtful, well reasoned, open to new ideas, and interested in people from different backgrounds because of his exposure to audible literature.
He is excited to listen to difficult texts and decipher their meaning, something that would virtually impossible for him to do with a the written word.
Audiobooks are essential in his education.
If You Believe Audiobooks Are Cheating
If you think his doctor had a point, I will respond to you here in the same way I did to her in the office last week.
Audiobooks make literature accessible for my son. He is one of the most well-read kids I know, because he surrounds himself with the language of books all day, everyday. Confining his access to this type of creative and intellectually stimulating content to merely what can be found on a written page is archaic and counterproductive.
And, let me add, you’re just wrong.
Homeschooling with audiobooks is one of the best decisions we’ve made.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.