Thursday 12 March 2015

The Power of Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a fantastic tool for parents and teachers to use to support children.  They are excellent for motivating reluctant readers, supporting struggling readers or children with dyslexia (who can simply listen along or follow with a print copy) and children with problems comprehending meaning in their reading (being able to hear the intonation helps greatly with understanding). 
Me, enjoying an audiobook.

Saying that though, audiobooks are more than just a teaching tool.  I suffer with anxiety and obsessive thoughts and find that audiobooks are a great way for me to deal with these.  Sometimes, as much as I want to pick up a book and read, I find it hard to block out these thoughts and focus.  Hearing somebody else read the story aloud somehow distracts me from these thoughts and helps me enter the world of the text.  It’s the same for many children.  It’s not always easy to immerse yourself in story but audiobooks take away the real world to an extent- you can even close your eyes (can’t do that with a book!!) and just totally focus on the imagery and the language.  There are times (after a working day or during a particularly bad bout of anxiety) that I don’t feel I’ve even got the energy to focus my eyes but I want that comfort of narrative and the sense of wonder that I had as a child.  Basically, I want to be read to. 
The combination of book and narrator can make a great book even more engaging.  If I even think about the How To Train Your Dragon books now I can almost hear David Tennant’s amazingly nuanced narration.  Joe Jameson’s performance of Liam in Mike Revell’s Stonebird is so beautiful and moving and I absolutely adore Lucy Brown’s voicing of Ishmael in Chris Riddell’s Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse.
The audiobook market is huge and growing.  It’s not just for the elderly or those with impaired sight (even though it is great that this market is catered to by them as well).  People listen to them  on the bus on their way to work, parents stick them on to avoid the inevitable “ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET!?!” and “MUUUUM! HE’S HITTING ME!!! TELL HIM!!!” on long car journeys.  However, the availability of adult fiction on audiobooks vastly outweighs that of children’s literature.
For a form which is so perfect for growing and developing readers there is still not the range and availability that I feel that there should be.  You can get the big name players and you can get the classics but not enough brand new titles are being produced in audiobook format.  Books seem to need to prove themselves before they are recorded.  I do understand that to an extent.  These books must take a lot of time, effort and money in terms of actors, studio time etc and you don’t want to spend this on a book that won’t sell.  I understand that but I do feel that the publishers do need to take a leap of faith, trust their authors and reach a growing readership.


  1. Great post! I was so happy to find out that my debut was made into an audiobook for these reasons. My fiancé struggles to read books but he's now got Audible, and he listens on the way to work. It means I can share my favourite books with him - and now he can listen to mine as well!

    1. I love listening to audiobooks on the way to work. It's a great way to keep my mind focused at a time when I tend to get particularly anxious.

  2. I totally agree. I am a huge fan of audiobooks - I always have at least one on the go. Nowadays it's easy to download them onto your phone, and then you can listen anywhere. Often the narration really enhances what's being read - when it's done well. I listened to Skellig read by David Almond and it was magical.

  3. I'll have to give Skellig a listen. I love the book so I'm sure the audiobook will be fantastic!