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Like most parents, I want my kids to read more, a lot more.  But that isn’t always easy. Reading time competes with sports schedules, homework, and the biggie…. electronics.

One easy way to bump up your kids’ reading time and skills is to use audio books. The average American family spends six percent of their waking hours in the car. I drive my kids a minimum of half an hour a day (often longer) and that adds up to ten thousand minutes a year of potential reading time.  Book tapes have become part of our daily commute. And with every minute we’re listening, the kids become better readers.  How?  There are eight reasons.

  • Fluency – A professional narrator demonstrates reading fluency – reading with attention to tone, accuracy, and expression.
  • Vocabulary – Not only is listening to a story a great way to introduce new words in context, it helps with learning correct pronunciation.
  • Increased reading levels – By exposing kids to books that are above their current reading levels, audio books create a bridge to even higher reader levels.
  • Reading hooks – Being read to by a talented narrator makes a story come alive with its humor and drama. This can lead a child to want to ‘read the rest’ on his or her own outside of car time – in which case getting a text copy from the library is a great idea.
  • Comprehension – By changing their tone and inflection as they read, narrators make even complex stories easier to comprehend.    
  • Conversation – By listening together, parents and kids can discuss how characters’ struggles often relate to current events and open up new conversation topics.
  • Story structure – The more stories kids hear, the more readily they identify story structure.
  • Exposure to new viewpoints – If you listened to even one book a month, you and your kids will have entered twelve ‘portals to new worlds’ and enriched and deepened your own worldview through exposure to the viewpoints of a multitude of diverse characters.   

So, before your next school run, football practice run, grocery store run or travels to the sixth-grade orchestra concert, stop by the library to check out a few audio books. Your car time will be transformed to story time and your kids will become better readers with every trip.