Using Audio Books For Children Struggling with Reading
written by: Margo Dill
• edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• updated: 9/11/2012
Struggling readers can benefit from the use of children's audio books. They can help with comprehension, fluency, and overall attitude toward reading. Students can read books at a higher level with audio books.
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How to Use Children's Audio Books
Using free audio books for struggling readers is an important teaching strategy in the remedial reading classroom. Struggling readers need to hear models of good readers, and children's audio books can help with this. Here is the best way to use audio books with remedial reading students:
Introduce the book to students just like you would if they were reading it on their own. Do a "book walk," discuss the author, look at the pictures, make predictions, and so on.
**The best way to use audio books is if every child can have a copy of the book that is being read. At the very least, you should have one copy for every two children. Using children's audio books with struggling readers works best when they can follow along with the reader.
Once the book is introduced, then give each student a book and explain your expectations for students while using books on tape for struggling readers. Some children in your remedial reading classroom can become easily distracted or lose their place because the reader will read faster than they could on their own. Explain to students that they will need to follow along with a finger or a ruler. If they lose their place, they should quietly raise their hand, and you can help them locate where the reader is on the tape.
Stop the free audio books for struggling readers every once in a while to check if students are following along and understanding the story. For especially long audio books, such as chapter books, it is probably a good idea to do a comprehension check after every chapter.
Once struggling readers have listened to an audio book once or twice (or a chapter), then you should encourage them to read along with the children's audio book as well as they can. Even if the student can only read a few words or one page, they should read what they can.
The goal is for students to be able to eventually read the entire book (this pertains mostly to picture books or easy readers) on their own, imitating the fluency and intonation they heard on the audio book.
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Other Uses of Audio Books
Using books on tape for struggling readers and auditory learners exposes these students to literature above their reading levels. Auditory learners thrive with free audio books for struggling readers, and this may improve their comprehension level of a story if they can hear it read. Struggling readers in a remedial reading classroom are often reading different books than their classmates, and these books are not on grade level. Sometimes students reading below grade level want to read the same books as their classmates, but they are not able to. For example, many fourth and fifth graders will start reading the Harry Potter series. Remedial reading students probably won't be ready to tackle book one, but you could expose them to Harry Potter by using the correlating free audio book for struggling readers from the school or public library. The Harry Potter series has some of the best children's audio books. Jim Dale, the narrator, does an excellent job. Books on tape can help students to feel self-confident and improve reading skills.