The art of storytelling has been in existence since the beginning of time. In fact, storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to develop your child’s literacy. Every child loves to listen to a good story, which is great because it teaches them several key skills associated with reading:
- Sequence. First this happened, then that happened, and finally this happened. Children need to learn that stories follow a logical pattern with a beginning, middle, and end.
- Language flow. Speech has a rhythm. We don’t talk in a monotone, but our voices go up with excitement, and down at the end of a sentence. We pause after commas and periods. Listening and learning helps children when it comes to reading.
- Vocabulary development. A great way to introduce new words (and their correct pronunciation) to your child is through storytelling. Your child learns the meaning of the words by the way it is used in the story, but if they are unclear about it, they can simply ask.
I have seen in my own children how audiobooks refine their listening skills and helps to build reading comprehension. If you have a child who is struggling to understand what he is reading, using audiobooks in conjunction with their reading practice could actually improve their ability to remember what the story is about, and help them internalize the meaning.
My husband asked me, “How do you know they’re not just memorizing it?” I don’t. Yes, they might be. And that’s okay, because when I go back and ask them to read a story again, pointing to the words as they read, they remember the story, which in turn helps them to remember word sounds and decode what is written on the page. Their eyes are seeing the word, while their brain is remembering the sounds and the meaning. Next time they run across that word, it will be easier to read.
I think audiobooks also help children learn the rhythm of a well-written story. By listening, they learn about inflection and intonation. It trains their ear, so that they will begin to look ahead as they read so that they can read aloud in a similar manner.
They are also a wonderful way to introduce young children to literature that is too difficult for them to read, for example, the Classics. I think if we wait until children are old enough to read some of the classics, then our kids will be bored. They have to learn to appreciate well-written literature while they are young, before their minds get used to the easy “candy” on the bookshelf. The garbage that doesn’t really inspire the imagination, or incite thoughtful consideration, but rather just evokes a good laugh and is written purely for entertainment’s sake. I’m not saying there’s not a time and a place for a mindless story, but I think we ought to train our children’s minds to savor the challenge and sophistication of well-written literature from the start. And a well-told audiobook of good children’s literature can capture and entertain a child’s mind as easily as the next book.
Parents looking for some great bilingual audiobooks should check out these sites:
- LoritoBooks.com - High quality, word-for-word audiobook read-alongs for young readers and second language learners. Titles are carefully chosen for their culturally relevant content and values.
- BarefootBooks.com – A beautiful line of books and audio books by a company dedicated to using the power of stories to nourish the creative spark in everyone and strengthen connections with family, the global community, and the earth. Be sure to check out their growing collection of Spanish titles.
- DelSolBooks.com – A small, independent bookseller of Spanish, English, and bilingual books & CDs by the acclaimed authors, Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, and songwriter, Suni Paz.