So in my last post, I expanded on a post by Cindy about how sometimes what could be considered "cheating" can actually be an effective learning tool. Another example of this is the use of audio books.

In my earlier post, About that Boy Thing, I talked a little bit about how we used audio books to help create a "relationship with reading."

I really feel that it has been our use of audio books combined with my valuing his choices in reading that has fostered his love of books. His use of audio books allowed him to satiate his desire for good stories and develop a wonderful relationship with reading, even as a "late" reader.

What I find fascinating is how many people do not consider audio books to be "real reading." The New York Times actually had an article called Your Cheatin' Listenin' Ways which debated the issue in regards to book clubs:

Is it acceptable, they debate within and among themselves, to listen to that month’s book rather than read it? Or is that cheating, like watching the movie instead of reading the book?

In the case of book clubs, I find the idea of “cheating” very amusing. Cheating who? If the purpose of a book club is for consenting adults to enjoy coming together to discuss and share the meaning of the book, what does it matter how it is "read"? Audio books are not Cliff Notes. They are not abridged versions that allow you to skim and not put as much time and energy into understanding or interpreting the text.

But what about for children? Is it cheating to let them listen to books? In my opinion, it most definitely is not. Audio books are merely an additional tool at our disposal. I am most definitely not arguing that learning to read is not important – listening to audio books should not replace the physical act of reading. But audio books can most definitely be used to complement and improve reading. Many of the skills that are developed through listening to audio books are indeed different than those used in reading, but they are no less important and in many ways can be used to increase reading skills.

But don't take my word for it. Here is a post which summarizes the Beyond the Book session from the International Association of School Librarian's Conference (h/t Book Moot):

Why audiobooks? Listening…
    • Increases fluency
    • Expands listening skills
    • Raises reading comprehension
    • Enlarges vocabulary
    • Boosts pronunciation skills
    • Supports struggling readers
    • Expands literature experiences for proficient readers
    • Improves test scores
Increased fluency & interpretation
    • Expert readers model fluent inflection & enunciation within the story’s narrative flow
    • Narrator’s voice reveals punctuation, accents, dialects, and cultural vocal patterns
    • Listeners hear the story through another reader’s voice, gaining deeper meaning
Audiobooks provide opportunity
    • Comprehension level when listening is often two years above reading level, allowing struggling readers, English Language Learners, and those with learning differences to join the community of readers through audiobooks alone or when paired with text.

There is much more to the post so check it out.

What it comes down to again, for me, is that everyone is different so why should we expect everyone to learn in the same manner? Some kids are more auditory (yes, even right-brained learners can be strong auditory learners) so why not let them learn in a way that makes sense to them?

I have to think a lot of the "hang-up" we have about "cheating" is a hold over from school where we were often graded and ranked based on our performance and there were "right" and "wrong" ways to learn. But with homeschooling, there is no right or wrong...you either learn or you don't. And it all counts!

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