Several months ago, I loaded all 40 Magic Tree House books on an ipod for my son (6). At the back of my mind I was a little worried that it will put him off actual reading because he is able to get the stories in a format that is easy. I mean, why work to learn to read when you can just listen to all the books you want, right?
Well, I went ahead anyway. Over many months, he enjoyed listening to them over and over. In fact, he still listens to them now. In some ways, it is like having the radio on for him. In the afternoons, he hangs out with the stories on via speaker and just does other stuff.
The side effect of spending so much time listening to the same 40 stories again and again, it turns out, is the desire to read the books. Ha!
Magic Tree House books have a lot of difficult to read (for my son) vocabulary. But because he had spent hours upon hours listening to the stories, when he reads the books now, he is better able to decode words because the vocabulary is in the forefront of his brain. He spent the last week trying to read the books and he is excited. He is reading at least at a 90 percent accuracy. The best part, he knows how to read the conversations in a slightly dramatized way (just like the storyteller!)
I am beyond impressed (and pleasantly surprised) with how this ended up working out. To be sure, my son did quite a bit on Reading Eggs and had pretty good phonics skills. However, the audio books seemed to have played an invaluable role in propelling his desire to read more challenging (for him) chapter books. In a few short weeks, he seems to be transitioning from the Henry and Mudge books to the MT series with a relative ease. Here at the Learning at Home forum, we have had many discussions about how kids learn to read. I thought I'd share my experience with you guys
Just want to say that that's been exactly our experience also. High quality audiobooks has without a doubt made my kids want to learn to read.
I strongly, strongly believe what we call "reading" is actually a host of skills. One of these, the thing everyone finds it easy to get hung up on, is phonics/whole word decoding. But actually a lot of other skills are important. Especially in English, its necessary to know how sentence order tends to work, what words tend to be found where. A lot of English words are homonyms-same spelling, different meaning/pronounciation-and we largely know what the word actually is - whether its "read" (red) or "read" (reed) say, by context.
Also, a lot of English just doesn't follow any kind of logical phonics order and you don't necessarily see a lot of the more uncommon words enough times to make an educated guess at them even if you're a whole word reader. So a lot comes down to knowing that in a certain context you might encounter particular words.
So I think there is enormous benefit to exposing kids to as much reading as possible, and audiobooks I think are incredibly important in this. Of course we should read to our kids as much as possible but I think, offered in addition to this, audiobooks are really valuable.
Just remembered something else my son is particular does. If he has a book he really loves, he will read it, but if possible he'll listen on audio as well. Sometimes he'll play the same short passage again and again. He's in a phase of doing this with the Lord of the Rings, but he's done it with other books. My best guess is that he's trying to get a sense of how the language is actually working and obviously hearing different recordings of how its worked (we have a couple of different versions on audio) is pretty interesting to him-I think in exactly the same way as, when I was learning violin,I'd listen to as many different versions of a piece as I could.
I love audiobooks! I think that listening to books on CD is no different than mom or dad reading to the child. The child isn't actually reading, someone is reading to them. It is very important for children to hear how sentences are structured, a wide vocabulary, expression, grammar, and syntax. Reading is much more, as PP said, than simply decoding words. It is comprehension of content, understanding sentence structure and correct word choice, and to a certain degree, prediction. Listening to stories read aloud helps children develop these skills before they are expected to use them. Plus, it is a lazy/busy mom's lifesaver! I have found that my children have enjoyed a lot of chapter books as audiobooks well before they were actually ready to read the books. It hasn't yet dissuaded any of them from reading the book themselves.
I completely agree! I have three that are interested in the stories (my oldest doesn't care at all, and my youngest is too little to really pay attention). Of those three, the older two are 29 months apart, but there is a HUGE difference in their reading levels.
So, I kind of blew it this year when packing my son's materials. We live part of the year in the States and the majority abroad, but we start the school year in the States. Ds is in online school, and I get all the materials in the US and pack and take what we need for the year. Well, he had a play by Shakespeare on his Lit syllabus, and I saw it was available free as an ebook and left the paperback stateside. Well of course the paperback was a special "for young people" edition. Ds freaked a little. So I went online and pulled, along with the ebook, free audio of the play. That made it so much easier for him to follow the work. Plus, I figured, the play was intended for performance, so maybe he was even getting a better experience of the work.
Regardless, having the audio (and the live links in the text for definitions) turned out to be a real plus. He's even enjoying the play. And if a sixth-grade boy is enjoying Shakespeare, I win.
We love audiobooks as well. We use them primarily in the van while driving. Love love love. I find myself drawn into the Magic TreeHouse stories.
I think a couple of the posters said it well when they mentioned reading is a whole host of skills and enjoying literature can be done in many forms.
BTW- did you buy all the MT audios?